When Tracey Smith first applied at HK Sales six years ago, she thought it would be a part-time job. She had previously been in the design and decorating world for years. Shortly after she was hired to work two days a week for the established showroom in Dallas’ World Trade Center, the owner announced he was retiring—and that she was his choice for a replacement.
“Mr. Hall brought me lunch every day for a year, trying to convince me to accept,” says Smith. “I wasn’t sure that I was ready to make that kind of commitment, but now I put the Halls in my prayers each night. I wake up every morning and think, ‘I get to go to work today,’ instead of, ‘I have to go to work today.’ It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Smith purchased Design Gallery Dallas (DGD) and, today, the wholesale showroom is busier than ever. And, there are recent changes afoot, most notably the business’ new location. It hasn’t moved far—just three doors down from its original spot—but Smith says the new site is one she’d dreamed about for years.
“Now we’re smack-dab in the middle of the atrium; the elevator doors open and we’re the first thing you see when you look across the atrium,” she says. “We get wonderful pedestrian traffic. I’ve always loved this space, and when we got the opportunity to move last November, I jumped at the opportunity.”
Although the new showroom is a different square footage, the biggest challenge was working in the larger displays DGD previously enjoyed, but Smith viewed the move as a chance to reevaluate, restock and refocus. Artwork, lighting, accessories, case goods, upholstery pieces and fabrics—it’s all here, at price points that appeal to all budgets.
You’ll still find more than 30 respected manufacturers, including Bassett, Highland House, Belle Meade, King Hickory, Rowe, Robin Bruce, Clayton Marcus and A.R.T., just to name a few.
The classic upholstery and case goods company, Highland House, became part of DGD’s lineup last year, and many of the brand’s pieces decorate the vignettes that Smith delights in assembling for the showroom floor. Highland House is known for its “hundreds and hundreds” of options, Smith explains, becoming even more animated as she describes the levels of customization that designers can achieve with their pieces.
And, helping her shoppers get exactly what they want is what Smith aims to do each day. She has visited the factories and facilities of most of the brands she stocks, seeing how the products go from step one to final assembly, and is relentless when it comes to tracking down answers.
“For me to be successful, I have to believe in a product,” she says. “It should be something I would purchase, something that I would want in my own home.”
Part of what gives Smith joy is working with designers and building relationships with them. She’s careful to not overstep boundaries, but anytime someone asks for her opinion or advice, she’s happy to give it.
“Being in the industry for years, I would come to Market and see the same people over and over,” she says. “Building those relationships and that trust made me feel good about supporting them—basically, I was buying from someone like me. Now I consider my customer base my friends, and it makes me happy when they want to sit and visit. It’s funny that it’s come full circle like that, but I couldn’t be happier about it.”
Lindsey Wilson is a Dallas-based freelance writer who has a penchant for reclaimed wood and vintage barware.