Located in historic downtown Perry, GA, just off Interstate 75, Cossart Design sits among the boutiques and restaurants on the town’s main drag.
Trish Cossart, the company’s founder and principal designer, started her career making slipcovers and window treatments, eventually growing that business into a workroom. Later, she teamed up with a design firm and in 2007 opened her first retail space. The retail space came from a need to streamline and personalize the client experience.
“Like most designers that end up with the retail space, part of your motivation is sourcing fabrics and furniture,” Cossart says. “And if the client actually gets to sit and see those things, it makes it a little more realistic and a little bit easier to understand the scheme of the plan. So the retail business really grew out of a desire to be able to showcase primarily the furniture that we source.”
Cossart describes the shop as a “retail destination,” offering a unique mix of furniture, home decor, gifts and jewelry. With other businesses on the street, Cossart is discerning about the products she stocks, being careful to not overlap with nearby shops so her customers know they can always find something unique.
The shop also serves as a natural advertisement for the design business. Staff greets every customer, and often the subject of design services arises naturally in their rapport with the public. The layout of the store also lends itself to promoting the design business.
“Our designer space is adjacent to the retail space,” says Haley Bryant, Marketing and Communications Manager for Cossart Design. “So you walk a few feet behind our back wall and you see our whole vision board come to life. That draws out a lot of questions too. It’s also just really fun to be able to offer that design side in adjacent to retail, because a lot of people come in asking, ‘How can we style this? How can we do that?’ And it turns in to a full design client oftentimes, which is great.”
Keeping It Personal
Cossart has recently been working with design business coach Melissa Galt. The most valuable lesson Galt has taught her so far?
“Market, market, market,” Cossart says.
For years, Cossart Design’s primary form of marketing has been word of mouth, but Cossart wanted to bring her efforts to the next level. Galt’s training is what led Cossart to bring on Bryant as part of the team.
Prior to the mandated COVID-19 closures, Cossart Design held a cocktail party, throwing open their doors and inviting all of their clients to mingle and shop.
“Since then we haven’t been able to do anything that big, but we’ve done a lot of Instagram marketing, Facebook marketing,” Cossart says. “Through the spring and summer, we did a lot of our appointments virtually and we advertised we were doing that.”
The Cossart Design team also made a push to get more of their retail online during the pandemic. Bryant says previously there were a few items available, but now 80 percent of the store’s inventory is on the website.
“If you come to a small town like historic downtown Perry, there are a lot of the shops that are unique, destination retail spaces,” she says. “So the online marketing and shopping game hasn’t always been fluid throughout the whole downtown. We’ve definitely made a push to make sure that we are capturing that market. Digital has been very big for us in the past six months, just pivoting the way that we market and sell product off the floor.”
Digital marketing has also been key to staying in touch with customers and keeping that personal connection alive. During the spring and summer months, Cossart Design implemented a local pickup option during the pandemic, allowing customers to contact the store and pick up their products out front to limit in-person contact. Customers responded well, so they’ve kept the curbside pickup option.
“If that kind of thing does stick, how do we make sure that we are still being personal, especially for clients or future clients?” Bryant says. “We’ve always been transparent, but we’re making sure that we’re articulating that we love our clients, we miss them and we love that human interaction. So how can we do
One way they’ve aimed to reconnect with clients is by relaunching their blog. The blog has been a venue for the team to offer their expertise on a personal level, especially as the firm continues to grow.
“[The blog] is a one-stop shop to say, this is the Cossart team,” Bryant says. “These are the things that they’re doing, and this is how it can articulate to you and your personal home as well. It also gives them an option of taking some of those things back to their own space and allowing us to kind of help them with that too.”
As retail gears back up to normal levels, the Cossart Design team is ready to provide their trademark personalized service and unique retail selection so it retains its spot as a true destination in downtown Perry.