With almost a century of service in the paint industry, Rossi Paint Stores has found a way to honor its storied tradition while adapting to a changing industry. The operation recently underwent an overhaul of its brand, updating the look, feel and offerings of Rossi Paint Stores without losing the history of customer service, fair prices and ethical business practices that made it successful, says creative manager Carl Lombardi. He has been with the company since 2021 and handles the company’s digital presence, including its website, social media and e commerce.
Growing Through the Years
In 1906, Luigi Rossi, a talented painter, emigrated to the United States from Italy with his family, including his brother Alfred Rossi, who also had a passion for paint. Alfred opened the first Rossi Paint Stores location in the 1930s on Holbert Street in Orange, New Jersey.
About a decade later, Alfred retired from the business, and Luigi went from purchasing his paint from the family paint store to running the operation with his daughter Emma. Luigi and Emma expanded the store beyond paint and sundries, stocking hardware and assorted home goods, but still held true to the family values the store was founded on years before.
After returning from serving in World War II, Luigi’s son Joseph Rossi took over the business and brought the store back to its original roots, focusing on paint and sundries. When Joseph’s sons, Louis and Bernard, joined the business, Rossi Paint Stores opened additional stores and became incorporated.
In 2007, Louis’ son Matthew took over as managing director, the fourth generation of the Rossi family to manage the day-to-day operations.
Adding to the Legacy
Rossi Paint Stores currently has stores in Orange, Ridgewood and Wyckoff, New Jersey, and two locations in Staten Island, New York. The Orange location recently moved into a new building on Main Street in Orange, which continues to serve as the operation’s flagship location. The company also offers full delivery service to the entire metro New York City area.
At the flagship location, the company serves mostly contractors with a mix of DIYers. The other locations serve a more even customer mix.
“We enjoy having the capability of catering to both segments,” Lombardi says. “If you are a paint contractor and need to fulfill larger orders consistently, we can fill that need. If you are a DIY weekend type painter, we provide a welcoming retail experience with personalized service to help you meet the goals of any weekend project.”
To further meet customers’ needs, the Ridgewood and Wyckoff locations employ a full-time design and color consultant, and the company started expanding into selling custom shelving, Lombardi says.
“While we are mainly a paint-focused store, we believe in the design of the entire living and working space and can provide our customers with much more than just paint,” he says.
Building a Brand
Enhancing the Rossi Paint Stores brand has been a focus for Lombardi, and he has found ways to create a consistent image across brick-and-mortar and digital spaces through big and small changes. Even the new flagship location reflects the company’s brand; it is flooded with natural light, well-designed spaces and a modern feel.
Another piece of the rebrand, the company’s website underwent a complete overhaul, including adding e-commerce capabilities. Lombardi says he was focused on creating a digital presence that would add value to the brand and its DIY and professional customers.
He also wanted to take any intimidation out of shopping at specialty paint retailers.
“We wanted to create a website that was more helpful and consumer-friendly and that led people to learn more to make them experts,” Lombardi says. “Parts of the new website, like the Product Selector, make it easy for customers to shop with us, walking them through the process step by step.”
During the website revamp, the company also added an internal website for employees to use for training and companywide communications.
Along with the new website, Rossi Paint Stores added digital price tags to replace paper tags in every store. The tags allow for instant updates of inventory, pricing and product availability and simplify inventory management processes with price changes done at the management level instead of the store level.
“The tags are beautiful and also provide a branding opportunity for Rossi’s and our business partners,” Lombardi says. “If there is an area where we can be forward-thinking with technology, we relish the opportunity to incorporate it into our business model.”
Looking to the Future
The new changes continue to enhance the Rossi Paint Stores brand and honor the legacy of the company, but Lombardi says the company won’t rest on what it has accomplished so far.
“Stagnation is the death knell for any company; companies that rest on the laurels of their past success find that future success is no guarantee,” Lombardi says. “We spend every day improving, evolving and trying to find new ways to provide value in the paint retail space.”
That commitment to improvement comes from setting goals, which Lombardi says are the same whether they are looking at the next day, next month or years down the road.
“We strive to provide the best service to our customers at a fair price while also being ethical in our practices with our commercial partners,” he says. “If your goal stays on the customer and finding new innovative solutions to their needs and wants, the next year or five will take care of itself.”
Carl Lombardi on Keeping Your Inventory Fresh
“We have our core offerings, which will always be in stock for our customers. To keep product inventory fresh, we use analytics to see what products are selling to what customers and base our ordering on those stats. If we see an increase in a specific product or line, we know there is demand and expand our offerings. Conversely, if the market makes it clear a product lacks demand, we replace it with something better suited to our consumer base. Our inventory is always evolving based on market demands, and if our customers make it known they need a specific product in stock, then it is stocked.”