Posted on 1 Comment

Lighting as inspiration

Is lighting inspirational? 

Apparently, for at least one of our customers at Tesco Lighting and Design Center, the answer is unequivocally yes! 

Lighting purchases are often a process rather than an event

Often times we see people in the store who come in for a familiar “transactional” experience – sometimes comparing us to some of the big-box retailers in the area.  What many of them learn is that quite often, making decisions about how you light the spaces you live in can be more of a process than an event.  Certainly there are event purchases that make sense too, but often measurements, light color, photos and some good, old fashioned hard-thinking come into play.  

This was the case with the mirror in question – a Ryame round lighted mirror from the elan collection by Kichler Lighting

Ryame™ Round Lighted Mirror by Elan (Kichler Lighting)
Photo from Kichler Lighting’s product detail page for the Ryame Round Lighted LED Mirror

The customer – I’ll call her Jill since I did not know to ask permission to tell “her story” when we spoke last – had come into the store multiple times to look at some of the amazing LED Lighted Mirrors we sell.  She did some homework, too, taking measurements, pictures and thinking about how the mirror would fit with existing decor.  Eventually, Jill phoned in to tell us she believed she had made a selection, but really wanted to see the mirror in a darker room than our 3,200 sq. foot lighting showroom.  This series of events really brings into focus one of our main competitive advantages versus taking your chances at a big-box retailer.  More on that in a minute. 

We obliged Jill’s request, taking a new mirror out of the box, wiring it up and setting it up in a break room.  The customer was given the opportunity to see the mirror in the environment she had requested.  Isolating the mirror for Jill confirmed what Jill already believed – she loved it!  So she asked us to box it up, and said she would be back to take the mirror home in the next day or two. It’s when she came in to purchase and pick up the mirror that I heard the words that led to this post.

“Anything that inspires me to create does not have to be justified”

When Jill did return to pay for and take delivery of her new mirror, we got into a bit of a conversation.  Jill apologized for taking so long to make a decision, apologized for asking so much of us during her decision making process, and apologized for taking so long to come pick up the mirror after making the decision to buy it.  At some point during her apologies I remarked; quite often lighting purchases are not as trivial as they seem at first and, sometimes, for larger expense type lighting such as her mirror, more time and thought had to be taken to justify the purchase.  And that’s when she said it:

Jill let me know that the mirror would be going into her studio, where she does her creative work.  And then said that “nothing that inspires me to create has to be justified.”  What a focused and freeing remark!  I was glad to have had the opportunity to play some small role in helping Jill march boldly forward in her creative journey.

Us versus “them”

Is there really a difference between smaller local shops and big-box stores?

Service as a service

Jill’s experience (and dozens more like hers every week) confirmed once again that there are competitive advantages a place like Tesco Lighting and Design Center have over other lighting stores in Fairbanks – particularly over big-box retailers. The primary two are service and expertise


Service (in my estimation) is not rapidly scanning items a customer has selected and getting them out the door as fast as possible. It is not simply keeping the store neat and clean, nor having “the biggest selection”. Some of that is helpful, but service, at least in lighting, is much more about understanding your customer – what they have now, what they would like to be different, and how they envision their space. Sometimes this involves lots of questions. Sometimes this involves multiple trips to and from the store, emails, phone calls, coordination with electricians and other designers, emails and calls to vendors and shipping companies, and more. a 3,200 square foot showroom of high quality, reasonable priced options is nice – really nice – and unique in Fairbanks, but Tesco’s willingness to walk the journey with our customers as they think about the highest and best use of lighting in their space is truly much more valuable.


While I am definitely a newcomer to lighting, I work for someone who has been at this for over two decades. From nuances in specific bulb and fixture (lamp and luminaire) details to whole-house / facility blueprint and specification interpretation and design services – we offer it all. There is so much specific expertise at Tesco Lighting and Design Center in Fairbanks that it is hard to even put into words. To be sure, I am still easily stumped, but it is quite comforting knowing I work with people who not only know the answer (or where to get it), but are as eager to help our customers as I am.

With all of that said, if your are in Fairbanks (or don’t mind a long-distance phone and email relationship) I hope to have the opportunity to learn what aspect of lighting may inspire you, too.