Invista is a global company, but it keeps its eye on what happens at Star Lumber in Wichita.
Star has sold Invista’s Stainmaster Carpet for 10 years. So when Invista, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, decided to bring out three major new product lines, it called Star Lumber CEO Patrick Goebel to see if it could launch its new products as part of the store’s big remodel.
Among the new lines is a value-oriented carpet line called Essentials.
The down economy has been hard on carpet sales, with the drop off in new-home sales and consumers’ general reticence to spend, said Steve Griffith, Invista’s chief marketing officer, who was at Star Lumber on West Street on Thursday.
“It’s been particularly bad in floor coverings because it’s expensive,” he said of the slow economy.
“And discretionary,” added Goebel.
Invista is also introducing a carpet line that is woven to feel extra soft and another that doesn’t fade in sunlight.
Star incorporated the new lines into a complete remodel of its store’s carpet-selling area, which was finished this week.
Griffith said market research shows that 19 percent of customers who come to a carpet store leave without buying. That’s because buying a carpet – and it’s almost always women who buy carpet – wasn’t easy. Customers come in seeking a solution and confront dozens of styles, brands and colors of carpet.
“We spent two years and millions of dollars to make sure it connects with consumers and make sure she understands,” Griffith said.
Invista and Star have created a showroom and carpet that present solutions rather than products, said Griffith and Goebel.
“In this economy, we can’t afford to let 19 percent of the people walk out of here,” Griffith said.