Talking Transitions and Changes within a Small WRJ Business
When Ken Blaisdell
first came to Gates Street with his unique lamp store, there were other shops and
businesses on the strip. A bookstore occupied the storefront next to Ken’s
original center bay. The Hotel Coolidge was undergoing renovation. The Upper
Valley Food Co-op had recently moved to its current location from a much
smaller space on South Main Street.
Ken notes local businesses making a huge acceleration in the last handful of years. How has Lampscapes evolved and how will it navigate the notoriously tricky path of scaling up?
Back when I started out I had money to spend at auction. I
was buying antiques and refurbishing. People would come in and buy side tables.
They brought in their own lamps and I made custom shades for them. Surprised how
it’s changed. Slowly I became known as a painter of shades. Not sure what
happened. That kind of business is not so frequent now.
Should I just focus on shades? Decoupage is the most recent innovation in my lampshades. Paper, fabric…let’s explore some more materials. Let’s not get hung up on the lamps. It’s like a connection to the past of machining, the whole idea of still being in touch with all these shops and regional businesses that machine and coat the parts. I keep coming back to the lamp. Is that the machinist/industrial engineer in me? The lamps are the great product. People come in knowing about the lamp! 20 years in business…word of mouth works.
Brattleboro Rest Area signage with the map of the Connecticut River labeling all the trades where things are being made and assembled. This is regional, recycled manufacturing.
The lateral swivel joint feature is costly but it is a slick design. The rotors that weight the base are recycled parts. All the machining is done regionally. Ken imagines if he could find local folks to machine the parts, he could potentially reduce some costs while adding the locally made value.
Then there’s the number of people who walk in, who come in to replace a shade or are just looking, they end up walking out with a lamp on a whim. The product is that good!