Merra Cordier Of The Purple Chandelier On How To Create A Fantastic Retail Experience That Keeps Bringing Customers Back For More

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine
Published in
12 min readDec 23, 2023

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Authenticity: At The Purple Chandelier, authenticity is at the core of our brand. Customers seek unique and genuine pieces, and our commitment to authenticity extends beyond the products to the entire shopping experience. We curate our collections meticulously, ensuring that each item tells a story.

As a part of our series about “How To Create A Fantastic Retail Experience That Keeps Bringing Customers Back For More”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Merra Cordier.

At the heart of Las Vegas’ design scene stands The Purple Chandelier, a unique retail gem. Owner and Interior Designer, Merra Cordier, alongside her partner Ted, has cultivated a haven that transcends the conventional shopping experience. The Purple Chandelier is not merely a consignment furniture store; it’s an immersive journey into artistry, craftsmanship, and sustainable luxury. Merra’s distinctive approach to interior design has shaped a carefully curated space spanning 30,000 square feet, where customers discover treasures that resonate with uniqueness. Her dedication to providing high-end furniture, exquisite home decor, and distinctive clothing and jewelry has earned The Purple Chandelier its status as a go-to destination for those seeking the extraordinary beyond the casinos in Las Vegas.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

After transitioning from Corporate Design, primarily focused on medical facilities, I decided to pursue a more personal path by delving into real estate staging in Las Vegas. The shift was prompted by a desire for a more intimate connection with my work. Following an unexpected divorce while navigating the challenges of single parenthood, I staged my initial property using furniture from my own home. On a particular day, my kids returned from school to find an empty house. Turning the situation into a positive experience, we built a fort in the vacant living room and made the best of the circumstances. Remarkably, the house I staged entered a cash bidding war at the open house, resulting in the sale of all the furniture along with the property. This unexpected turn of events allowed us to acquire a new set of furniture for our home. Serendipitously, during this furniture shopping journey, I encountered a furniture consignment store, where I crossed paths with my now-husband, Ted Anzell.

In 2008, Ted’s career as a mortgage banker faced a downturn, prompting a significant shift. Ted transitioned by delving into the lucrative market of gold, leveraging the booming demand for this precious commodity at Lynn’s World, a local consignment store. Taking a bold step, he later acquired the business from its retiring owner, marking the genesis of our journey together.

Following our meeting, we breathed new life into the enterprise, rebranding it as “The Purple Chandelier.” Since then, our focus has been on perfecting the art of curating “previously owned fine furnishings.” Ted’s venture into the realm of gold buying persisted and evolved into a full-service jewelry store. Moreover, we’ve expanded our offerings to include a diverse range of boutique items, encompassing high-end bags, shoes, and clothing.

United in our vision, we are committed to a shared ethos — “repurposing the past for a future that lasts,” epitomizing our dedication to luxury consignment and innovative design.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

Some of the funniest mistakes were not so funny at the time. One that comes to mind, I once purchased $1700 worth of “White Gold Teeth,” mistakenly assuming they were genuine gold fillings. It turns out, gold fillings are exclusively crafted in yellow gold, a fact I learned the hard way. Fortunately, Ted, with his own collection of “funny” mistakes, offered understanding and support during this learning curve. I’ve come to realize that the art of buying gold is indeed a unique skill, and each misstep is an opportunity for growth.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I am especially grateful to my assistants and our employees who tolerate our craziness. It isn’t easy working with and living with your life partner. I especially appreciate Malia & Sandra who have always been very supportive, fair and loyal to both Ted and myself, even when it didn’t benefit them to do so.

I am big on implementing processes in order to make things operate as efficiently and effectively as possible. Ted is all about exceptions and customer experience. In the end, both are equally as important, but when we butt heads, our employees have a way of supporting and sustaining both of us equally until the dust settles and we can figure out how to move forward.

In the end, we are a people business, not a furniture business. We get to interact with thousands of people and have the opportunity to change their day in a positive way. We use furniture as an excuse to be able to interact with them. People shop with us because they need furniture, they come back to us and remain loyal because of their positive experience and understanding of why we do what we do.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

We love Simon Sinek. He has made a huge impact on the kind of culture we embrace and wish to foster in our store. Not only for our customers, but for our employees and everyone with whom we come into contact. I also grew up with the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Franklin Covey Co. My dad was the President of Franklin Covey Co. so I’m sure those teachings creep into the methods we use to lead and inspire our staff.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Authenticity. From Chanel bags to diamond rings, solid wood furnishings to the heart of our owners, everything about The Purple Chandelier is authentic. A recent podcast we listened to on “The Law of Attraction” resonated deeply with us, emphasizing the magnetic appeal of authenticity. In a study, individuals in a magnetic field-blocking box emitted the highest measurements when in a state of authenticity. I swear that’s why so many people love Ted. He is the real deal. One minute he can turn on the southern charm and the next minute he’ll yell something like, “I’d rather throw that table in the street and hit it with my truck than sell it to you for that price!!!,” but no matter what comes out of his mouth, It’s legit. And even the people he yells at, keep coming back to experience more of the customer experience, offered uniquely by The Purple Chandelier.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I’m pretty burned out right now, so maybe someone else has some advice for me? If I could give myself advice I’d say, put systems in place that allow your business to thrive without you. Read “The E-Myth.” Ted says, “Don’t own it too long.”

Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. The so-called “Retail Apocalypse” has been going on for about a decade. The Pandemic only made things much worse for retailers in general. While many retailers are struggling, some retailers, like Lululemon, Kroger, and Costco are quite profitable. Can you share a few lessons that other retailers can learn from the success of profitable retailers?

In the age of online shopping, where almost anything is just a click away, the true differentiator is the customer experience that draws people out of their homes. At The Purple Chandelier, we recognize the value of that in-person connection, offering more than just a place to shop. For many, it’s a haven — a place to find solace and comfort, especially for those who have experienced loss. Our dedicated sales staff goes beyond transactional interactions; we know our customers by name, remember their preferences, favorite colors, and even the names of their furry companions who are always welcome in our store. We take pride in creating a welcoming atmosphere, and our resident dog whisperer, Gerald, is happy to extend the hospitality by dog-sitting when needed. Whether you’re here to shop or simply appreciate the art of fine furnishing, we ensure that every visit is a unique experience, much like a great movie with a different ending every time.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a retail business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

In our journey, we’ve learned the importance of not making yourself indispensable to the day-to-day operations. It’s crucial to establish effective systems that can seamlessly carry out the tasks you handle. This approach allows for breaks without compromising the business’s continuity. Moreover, when the time comes for retirement, having comprehensive systems in place ensures a smooth transition and continuity for the enterprise.

This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business in general and for retail in particular?

Beyond providing unparalleled quality and a rich history of stylish offerings with real-time inventory accessibility, the paramount element for success is the customer experience. At The Purple Chandelier, we don’t just consider ourselves in the “furniture business”; we recognize that we are in the people business. Every interaction is an opportunity to positively impact lives. Our commitment to exceptional customer experiences is not just about remarkable furniture but serves as a means to connect and uplift those we engage with.

We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?

At some point, we recognized the diminishing significance of human connection in many businesses as they undergo streamlining and mainstreaming processes. It’s crucial to always keep in mind the fundamental reason people choose to walk through our doors. In our continuous effort to implement efficient systems, my husband and I engage in discussions about preserving the cherished “Mom & Pop” feel of our store that our customers deeply value. Balancing efficiency with the warm, personalized touch is a constant consideration as we navigate the evolution of our business.

Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?

One day a visitor in our store took a moment to express gratitude to Ted. He acknowledged that while he might not be one of our most significant customers, he truly values what we contribute — not just to our customers but to the broader world. Our commitment to creating a sustainable, high-end shopping experience resonates with individuals, regardless of their purchasing capacity.

It’s a sentiment we frequently encounter, with many customers expressing surprise and delight, saying things like, “I can’t believe we didn’t know this was here!” or “What a treasure!” The feedback often includes plans to spread the word to friends, family, or other connections, emphasizing the uniqueness and unmatched quality of our furniture offerings.

Did that “Wow! Experience” have any long-term ripple effects? Can you share the story?

One of our cherished customers, a realtor who frequently furnishes her rental properties with us, recently extended the ripple effect of our store’s appeal. She shared the news with a friend living in Hawaii, who, despite the distance, engaged in a virtual shopping experience over FaceTime to furnish an investment property. This positive chain reaction has led to numerous referrals — each referral, in turn, sparking new connections as they share their experiences with friends and family.

Beyond the joy of furnishing homes, we take pride in minimizing the “consumer footprint” by discouraging excessive buying and disposing of subpar furniture and decor. Discovering old tags from previous consignors on newly welcomed pieces reinforces our belief that well-made furniture should endure, mirroring the enduring life of the tree it originated from. The immeasurable ripple effect of sustainability is an accomplishment we hold dear.

A fantastic retail experience isn’t just one specific thing. It can be a composite of many different subtle elements fused together. Can you help us break down and identify the different ingredients that come together to create a “fantastic retail experience”?

1. Exquisite Ambiance: The ambiance of the store sets the stage for the entire shopping experience. At The Purple Chandelier,, creating a sophisticated and inviting atmosphere was crucial to us.

2. Well-Curated Merchandise: The heart of any retail store is its inventory. Every item on display should be meticulously curated to ensure quality, authenticity, and relevance to the brand’s aesthetic. A thoughtfully curated collection reflects the brand’s commitment to offering unique and high-end pieces.

3. Exceptional Customer Service: Customer service is a cornerstone of a fantastic retail experience. Staff should be knowledgeable, approachable, and ready to assist customers. Providing personalized attention, answering queries, and offering styling advice contribute to a positive and memorable shopping experience.

4. Transparent and Fair Pricing: Transparency in pricing is vital. Customers appreciate clear and fair pricing, particularly for luxury items. Providing information about the original retail prices, condition of the items, and any special features or history adds value and builds trust.

5. Engaging Visual Merchandising: Visual merchandising is an art form in retail but specifically where luxury consignment is concerned. The way items are displayed, the use of props, and the overall presentation contribute to the overall aesthetic appeal. Often figuring out how to style certain items in their own homes can be a roadblock for customers, showing them how pieces work together by displaying them in the store can assist them in putting together a vision for their own interior design updates.

Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a fantastic retail experience that keeps bringing customers back for more?

1 . Authenticity: At The Purple Chandelier, authenticity is at the core of our brand. Customers seek unique and genuine pieces, and our commitment to authenticity extends beyond the products to the entire shopping experience. We curate our collections meticulously, ensuring that each item tells a story.

2 . Consistency: Consistency is key in the luxury consignment world. Our store maintains a consistent standard of excellence in the quality of items, customer service, and overall shopping experience. This reliability is reflected in our store’s interior design, online presence, and the way we interact with customers. Whether someone walks into our physical store or browses our website, they experience the same level of sophistication and attention to detail. This consistent approach builds brand loyalty and keeps customers returning for a reliably exceptional shopping experience.

3 . Quality: Fast fashion has taken the confidence out of shopping. These days, purchasing something with a high price tag doesn’t always guarantee that you’re making a true investment. When people shop at The Purple Chandelier, however, they can feel confident in the quality of the items they are purchasing. Let’s just say, this isn’t IKEA and we’re proud of that fact.

4 . Real-Time Availability: In the fast-paced world of fashion, real-time availability is crucial. Our consignment store leverages technology to provide customers with up-to-date information on our inventory. Real-time availability enhances the customer experience by providing convenience and transparency.

5 . Human Interaction: Despite the rise of online shopping, the human touch remains invaluable. Our staff at The Purple Chandelier is trained to offer personalized assistance, creating a welcoming and engaging environment, elevating the shopping experience.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Repurpose the past for a future that lasts. As a society, we have become so fixated on what is new that we have forgotten to place stock in things like quality and craftsmanship. I would love to start a movement that helps to shine a spotlight on the many wonderful aspects of shopping consignment. Let’s shift away from the fast-paced, disposable nature of the industry and begin curating collections of pre-loved, high-quality items, extending their lifespan and reducing the environmental impact associated with mass production.

How can our readers further follow your work?

People can visit us and shop online at www.thepurplechandelier.com, as well as on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok @ThePurpleChandelier. We also highly recommend that the next time you are in Vegas, you take an hour or two to stop by the store and experience your own personal treasure hunt!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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