Specialty paints are some of the most versatile products independent paint and decorating retailers sell, helping customers add a truly individualized final touch to every project they undertake. But keeping your inventory fresh and helping customers realize specialty paints’ true potential is a constant challenge.
Though specialty paints may not account for a majority of your sales, many retailers are finding demand is steady and higher product prices can make up for lower sales volumes. As supply chain issues constrict more home improvement products, retailers are finding premium products like specialty paints are often immune from shortages.
Rainbow Paint & Decorating owner James Pace knows how important keeping specialty paints top of mind for customers can be. That’s why he stays up to date with the latest trends and advancements in this category. Learn how he uses those insights to boost sales and inspire customers when they visit his business in Birmingham, Alabama.
A Specialty Business
James Pace bought Rainbow Paints in November 2002, becoming the third owner of the 44-year-old business. He says he loves to help people and has always wanted to be a small business owner. When the opportunity to buy the business became available, he jumped at the chance.
As he closes in on 20 years of ownership, he says the past 18 months have been some of the most exciting—and challenging—he’s seen as owner.
Though sales rose steadily throughout 2020 and into the first quarter of 2021, he now reports seeing supply chain volatility and is having trouble keeping some of his most popular products on the shelves.
One of his strategies to combat supply chain woes is to source products from a variety of suppliers.
“I think we’ve been fortunate because I’ve been able to source from multiple vendors—that doesn’t mean we haven’t had challenges—but we’re not beholden to a single supplier,” Pace says. “We’re buying from many vendors and while that may not be a popular standpoint, it’s what we need to do.”
One of the other ways Pace and his team have kept sales strong is by leaning into products that haven’t faced logistical uncertainties, like specialty paints.
“Specialty paints are usually super-premium paint products that aren’t sold in the big boxes or company stores because they require a certain level of expertise to sell them correctly to a unique client,” Pace says.
Helping customers see the benefits of investing in high-quality specialty paints is critical to maintaining steady sales, Pace says.
“Specialty paints are a category where customers are willing to pay more as long as they’re being educated on the value of these specific products,”
he says. “Even if the market for specialty paints is relatively small, we want 100 percent of that market.”
Specialty paints are an exciting category for Pace, who says after nearly two decades in the paint and decorating business, the possibilities specialty paints bring motivate him.
“People’s color choices, especially for specialty paints, are growing bolder, which I like,” he says. “It’s hard to get excited about the perfect white.”
Pace says many customers use specialty paints as accents, but more customers are incorporating them into central parts of their homes, including the kitchen and master bedroom.
“Formal living rooms are another popular spot,” he says. “Anywhere a homeowner can invite guests, they want to impress them and specialty paints can do that.”
Big boxes don’t have the ability to compete with highly educated paint and decorating employees, giving Rainbow Paint & Decorating and other independents a distinct advantage in the category.
“Training for specialty paints is critical,” he says. “Even the least-tenured person on my team has 13 years of experience. Creating longevity in our team is part of keeping everyone informed on the products.”
Pace says it may take a customer several weeks, even months, to finish a specialty paint project, and the continuity of having long-serving team members on staff helps create trust and ensure projects run smoothly from beginning to end.
Pace says that a few years ago, he installed a spraybooth in the back of his store to complete small projects for customers. But the new addition also enabled his team to try out specialty paints themselves to learn best practices and offer insider tips to Rainbow Paint & Decorating customers.
“One of the reasons we installed the spraybooth was to be able to grab products off the shelves and test them out ourselves,” Pace says.
“We intentionally put effort into being experts in our industry and in our market.”
Specialty Paint Sensations
Specialty paints can be used to achieve countless looks and feels. As more customers are spending time at home and rethinking what they want from those areas, use these pointers to help them see new potential in old spaces.
Spaces for kids to explore art and do schoolwork at home will always be in demand. Advertise chalkboard paint to DIY customers to boost sales. Merchandise chalkboard paint with impulse items like colorful chalk, erasers and cleaners to increase add-on sales.
Shimmer paints can help customers find new potential in living rooms and bedrooms, adding depth to bookcases, bedside tables and coffee tables. Display shimmer paint on a refurbished table in your store to demonstrate
the end result.
This segment of specialty paint can help at-home office workers refresh their home offices without breaking the budget. Explain the effect metallic paints offer for old furniture, like desks, bedside tables or hutches.
These eye-catching paints can truly transform children’s bedrooms. If you notice customers shopping with children, suggest your glitter paint options. Advertise the products on your social media for guaranteed customer clicks.