For small, mom-and-pop shops that produce goods for the home but don’t have big advertising budgets, the Internet helps level the playing field, bringing customers who are looking for something different.
Many small design shops rely on word of mouth, or websites like Fab, which feature smaller collections.
“I don’t think the old models of distribution are the only ways to play anymore,” says Tracey Reinberg, whose year-and-a-half-old company, Kismet Tile, provides Moroccan-made cement tiles. She works directly with customers, she says, instead of trying to get showrooms to carry her goods.
More traditional methods also help get the word out: Vahallan Papers, a purveyor of hand-painted wallpaper based in Lincoln, Neb., swears by trade shows.