Flooring retailer inspired others to compete Print
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 01:39 PM America/New_York

Big-box stores didn’t scare Central Florida’s Bob Campbell out of the market

ChristineDJohnson_121813While reading the Orlando Sentinel at the end of 2013, I came across an obituary of someone I didn’t know but whose life’s headline grabbed my attention. No doubt it would’ve drawn the eye of anyone committed to making it in retail.

The headline for Bob Campbell’s obituary read: “Flooring retailer held his own vs. big-box stores.” First of all, I was intrigued that such a statement would be what rises to the top when the paper’s staff writer considered the whole of Campbell’s life—not to say that competing as a small chain in a big-box world is not an accomplishment, as it surely is. It just made me wonder if Bob was all business.

I don’t know if Campbell was a man of faith or not, but his wife and longtime business partner, Nancy, at least hinted of the presence of a higher power in their business decisions.

“We put everything that we had and invested into the business,” she said. “We didn’t take out any loans. We started with a wing and a prayer, but we knew we could do it.”

The Campbells’ Creative Floors suffered some downsizing during the recession, but the owners made it their aim to compete with such giants as Home Depot and Lowe’s and to serve their customers well. Bob used to tell shoppers, “You know, we aren’t the cheapest game in town,” but he would be proud that the writer of his obituary honored him with the following statement:

“From the toe-engulfing plush carpets of the 1990s to the heel-clicking laminates of more recent times, Campbell’s small empire of flooring stores helped transform thousands of Orlando-area homes.”

And that’s certainly nothing to sneeze at. Kudos, Bob! Your life is an inspiration to smaller retailers in a big-box world.