Becoming a New Downtown Destination
Photography by Jon Keeling
If a single spot on the map can represent Cincinnati’s downtown transformation, it might be an art deco storefront at West Fourth and Plum Streets. That’s where Bertie Ray III and Drew Dearwester have just opened Switch on Fourth, the newest location of their growing business, Switch Lighting & Design.
The original Switch at 1207 Vine Street was a key building block in the redo of Over-the-Rhine almost a decade ago. “We were one of the very first retailers in the revitalization of OTR,” Ray says. “When we opened in 2008, there were only a handful of shops that were part of that renaissance.”
Now they’ve done it again, going bigger and bolder in a beautiful and neglected old brick beauty in the downtown historic business district. “We’ve deepened our long-term commitment to Cincinnati by purchasing a building downtown,” Ray says. “We are eager to participate in the overall development of the city.”
The need for increased space drove the expansion. Switch on Fourth includes a two-story showroom with room to expand. “We needed space to show more product and to expand into furniture,” Dearwester says.
Switch offers lighting and design consultation and works with designers, architects, builders and contractors… and of course, with delighted homeowners. “We definitely work with the industry, but the other half of our business is working directly with clients,” Dearwester says. “We are customer-service driven,” Ray adds. “That’s why clients come back.” He estimates that two-thirds of their business is repeat customers and referrals.
In addition to fine modern furniture, Switch carries colorful and fashion-forward modern lighting brands from Italy, Spain, England and the United States. “We offer premium lighting lines that you don’t see anywhere else,” Ray says. Along with those modern lines, Switch offers many unique pieces that appeal to traditional or transitional clients as well. Because they enjoy introducing and educating customers to modern lighting and furniture, Dearwester encourages customers to come in and look around.
“Clients may be curious, but afraid, to take that first step in introducing a modern piece,” he says. “We reinforce that it’s OK to mix.”
Because they see lighting and furniture as art, both take satisfaction in helping customers find pieces they connect with and that bring them joy. “Lighting inspires,” Ray says. “I feel good having participated in elevating a client’s spirit.”
“I enjoy being a part of a transformation, both spatial and psychological,” Dearwester says. “One little switch in your space can totally transform everything.”
When the first Switch opened on Vine Street, OTR was still transforming. “People had to intentionally come to us,” Ray says. “We became a destination.” That original store, now known as Switch on Vine, holds surprises of its own with a remodel and winter ‘17 reopening. The OTR store is geared more toward the urban dweller with more accessible pricing that is suited for first-time homebuyers and apartment renters.
With expanded showroom space for lighting and furniture, Switch on Fourth is well on its way to becoming a destination as well.
“We will be growing with the neighborhood,” Dearwester says.
Switch Lighting & Design is located at 312 West Fourth Street (513.421.1901) and 1207 Vine Street (513.721.8100), Cincinnati, OH 45202. To talk with Drew and Bertie, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.switchcollection.com.