MADISON, NJ – “Choices have grown exponentially,” during the last 35 years, says Brad Cramer, owner of Cramer’s Carpet One in Madison, who recently celebrated the store’s 35th Anniversary. “Consumers have choices like never before,” he added.
The flooring industry has seen a dramatic change in the products now available to consumers. “Thirty-five years ago, we had a handful of samples to show people. Today, there are 10,000,” Cramer told TAP into Madison. Today, people can choose from carpet to hardwood, from solid vinyl tiles to laminates, and more.
The quality of the products has also significantly improved. Some laminates are now waterproof. Sheet vinyl, which used to register complaints regarding its construction and wear and tear, is now heralded by consumers and nearly complaint-free.
The products also look much nicer. Vinyl tiles look like real tiles. Sheet vinyl looks like ceramic tile. The materials are constantly changing and getting better at a much faster rate, as well, he said.
Retail has also changed significantly during the last 35 years, Cramer said. “Most street retailers lose out to the big box stores unless they have affiliations that help you with marketing, product, pricing, and enable bulk pricing,” he added. Cramer’s is part of Carpet One, a nationwide affiliation for flooring retailers that provides these necessary services so that Cramer can focus on customer service and delivering high quality product for the end user.
Marketing has also seen a seismic shift, particularly the last five years. “The biggest learning factor for me is where marketing and advertising dollars are being spent. Today, 80 percent is being spent electronically rather than on paper. It’s gone from paper to computer and now to mobile,” Cramer said.
As for the future, Cramer believes the retail market will come back to pre-Recession highs. “There is pent up demand out there for tangible goods for the home. In the near future, retail will improve dramatically.” Cramer says that the recent drop in gas prices, should it continue, will improve the bottom line of many small business owners by lowering fuel costs and keeping increases in material costs to a minimum.
Reflecting on his thirty five years in business, Cramer told TAP into Madison, “It has been a learning experience. I wish my father could see me now. I started as a one truck operation when I was 19. I’ve been in the business ever since. We’re not McDonald’s but we’re respected in my industry.”
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