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PSS Winter '12

A Bright Idea

by Dominic Moore ’05

David Brooks

David Brooks ’76 in front of his store Just Bulbs in New York City

Sometimes you just have to see things in a new light. Whether he’s illuminating an art gallery, brightening up a Broadway set or adding glamour to a boutique clothing store, David Brooks ’76 has built a world-wide reputation doing exactly that: helping his customers find exactly the right light for the job.

An attorney by training, Brooks left a management consulting career in St. Louis to take the reins of Manhattan-based store Just Bulbs in 1984. Already a well-known resource for specialized lighting, Brooks streamlined and expanded the business while applying his own management savvy and his experiences in theater and set design at Hobart.

Just Bulbs now stocks a mind-boggling 35,000 styles of lighting, from replica Edison filaments to the latest energy-efficient LEDs and from specialized film and theater hardware to hip, new interior design concepts.

But the real resource of Just Bulbs isn’t found on the store shelves; it’s in the expertise that Brooks offers to every customer. “With the right lighting, stores can sell more clothes,” he says. “Hair salons can offer better services. Wallpaper and paint stores can be more successful. It’s important to get the right light for the right space.”

Brooks is passionate about the details of proper lighting. For example, his store doesn’t stock one Edison bulb – instead, it stocks 25, each one representing a different era and style. “Do you want a bulb that’s accurate to 1893 or one that’s accurate to 1910?” Brooks asks. “We’ve got them all.”

These details matter to his customers, too. Gracie Mansion, the official residence of New York City’s mayor, called on Brooks to install authentic lighting throughout the residence and foreign diplomats frequently consult with Just Bulbs to special order obscure European light fixtures that will work with American voltages.

“All the embassies in New York have our number,” Brooks quips. And when they come into the store, asking for an alarmingly specific European-style fixture, Brooks just smiles and says, “I’ve got it!”