The RTA Store
‘Making the difficult, easy’
Business View Magazine interviews The RTA Store CEO Tyler Ackerman and co-owner Samantha Rougeux for our focus on the U.S. Retail Sector
For The RTA Store, the COVID-19 pandemic was a whirlwind that started out with a lot of uncertainty and transformed into the ability to employ more individuals and service a whole new group of online consumers. While the online cabinetry retailer had to shut down operations at the start of the pandemic in March of 2020, they were able to resume within a few weeks and with that came a large influx in customers.
“Not a day goes by that we don’t understand the real impact that COVID-19 had and still has on real people and real businesses around the world. We were one of the fortunate ones to come out unscathed,” says The RTA Store Co-CEO Tyler Ackerman.
When the pandemic hit, the Hopewell Junction, New York company quickly moved its staff remote, while Ackerman and Co-CEO/co-founder Samantha Rougeux (also siblings) kept in contact through virtual meetings to create contingency plans for every possible scenario. “In those first few weeks of lockdown, everything just kind of froze – sales included – and traffic on the site dropped significantly,” says Ackerman. “There was so much uncertainty and fear. Samantha and I were both in survival mode and fully focused on ways to ensure the business would survive.”
The pair went into heavy negotiations with The RTA Store’s suppliers and finance partners to obtain larger than average discounts, which were passed directly to the consumer to help increase potential revenue for the coming months. After a few weeks, website traffic began to pick back up and then it started to snowball.
The RTA Store was well-positioned to weather the pandemic as a trusted online cabinetry retailer open 24/7, with many customers looking to DIY products to improve their home spaces. “It’s a big purchase and one of the most important remodels a homeowner will complete – the kitchen is the heart of any home, and while customers want to ensure it’s done correctly, there was a very quick realization that purchasing your kitchen does not have to be done in a physical store,” Rougeux explains. “COVID nudged people to shop more online than they ever have. It’s always been an uphill battle to educate consumers that you can buy a kitchen online, COVID moved that needle for the online cabinetry space quite a bit.”
The RTA store was founded in 2009 by Ackerman and Rougeux shortly after Ackerman graduated college. Seeing the rise in eCommerce, he did his research, and with the help of some family contacts, he and Rougeux decided to take the leap together. They launched The RTA Store in April of 2009, selling affordable, ready-to-assemble furniture and cabinetry.
The cabinetry side of the business took off so they decided to refocus all efforts to finding new cabinet suppliers and removing furniture from their eCommerce website. Since then, they’ve grown to include cabinets for the entire home, not only the kitchen.
The RTA Store specializes in ‘making the difficult, easy. While it may seem daunting to order an entire kitchen online, they have many resources available to help customers feel confident in their purchase. As Rougeux attests, “There is this stigma of ‘how am I going to begin to measure my cabinets?’ or ‘where do I even begin this process?’ and honestly, once we start speaking with a customer, we’re able to convey and show them exactly how easy this process really is. We have so many resources for customers that they can use to make the process easier, on their own timeline, and in the comfort of their own home. They don’t need to worry about leaving the house and going back and forth to do measurements that they forgot to take. It’s a lot more convenient for the customer.”
A large segment of The RTA Store customers are DIYers, but the store also has a Professional Partner department that works with their brick and mortar dealers, contractors, designers, and multi-family home builders. They have also partnered with a national installation company that helps customers to build and install their cabinetry. “They are a vetted professional network of contractors that are available in most major markets,” Ackerman says. “If a customer needs assistance with the whole project or a portion of the project, they can work with them to assemble and install it correctly.”
The RTA Store also has an experienced team of designers on staff to help customers make their dreams come to life, free of charge. “We always encourage our customers to work with our designers,” says Ackerman. “They can walk you through every step of the process and show them life-like 3D renderings of what their space will look like prior to purchasing.”
In addition to the ease of purchase, much of The RTA Store’s appeal comes from their competitive pricing, while still delivering quality products. Ackerman admits, “When customers get price quotes $10,000 to $40,000, or more, above what they anticipated their cost to be, they naturally get a little sticker shock. They are saying ‘Ok, well, there’s got to be some solution,’ and then they find us. We can save customers between 10% – 40% and when talking about purchases in the thousands of dollars, that is a huge savings.”
The RTA Store’s recent success has allowed them to grow the business even more over the last few years. They started the company with only two people on staff and had increased to 50 by 2018. Today, there are over 100 full-time employees. Two years ago they had two main departments – office and design – and today their office department has morphed into many specialized departments, each with its own managers and assistant managers, and the design team has seen much growth as well. Rougeux shares, “All these teams are working cohesively together, which is great to see. Our managers are really stepping up. We are able to promote 99% from within our organization, which is awesome. It’s really gratifying to see our teams continue to grow.”
“We don’t have a very high turnover,” says Ackerman. “We treat our team members as extended family and know, without a doubt in our mind, that we would not be able to succeed in this business if it were not for all of them. We want our team to be happy, so we invest a lot back into them and it’s a really good atmosphere.”
Click The Cover To View Or Download The Brochure
AT A GLANCE
The RTA Store
What: An online retailer of ready-to-assemble cabinets
Where: Hopewell Junction, New York