With a back ground in commercial real estate leasing for large developers of multi-family residential around the U.S., my design skills came into focus when I realized that in most cases the design element of the public spaces of most of the developments including the “model” apartments and condos were much too generic.
It was apparent to me thru the poor sales reports the bottom line was being negatively affected by this lack of understand of what the ideal client in each circumstance was looking for.
With “boots on the ground” in the sales and leasing offices, I was able to observe the habits of our prey, including clothing, jewelry, shoes, choice of automobile and how we were missing our target.
I took these observations along with current design trends easily obtained in viewing a few key popular design magazine pertaining to the level of income of our target audience and started designing these spaces myself. The results were incredible, the developers starting receiving very different reports on closing ratios and the properties were attracting the right tenant for the right property. And as an added bonus, I found that I loved creating the spaces. A few years later on burn out from real-estate, an opportunity to jump in to the furniture world and I grabbed it. It was a little like a headfirst off the high dive.
Kenny, who is still my life and business partner joined me and we formed our own rep group. Within two years we had showrooms in High Point, N.C. at the international home furnishings market and another in San Francisco’s design district, 2500 and 10k respectively.
The showrooms were in the “temporary exhibitors” area and you haven’t lived until you’ve until you’ve set up several thousand sq. ft. of showroom with 25-30 exhibitors ( some unfortunately on hand) in 48 hours. With rugs, chandeliers, drapery, beds and linens, sofas, chairs, ottomans, candles, picture frames, art, lamps and anything else you can think of to create basically a pop-up store, a term that didn’t exist back then.
But, again, the “professional” showrooms, were for the most part boring with no “cross merchandising”. We, not know any better, accidentally showed “lifestyle” retailers, how all of these diverse products fit together in an exciting and complimentary way.
By hand selecting the manufacturers, we were able to integrate the products in a way to tell a story that made sense. Buyers would literally spend hours in our showrooms placing orders with each of our vendors.
The benefit of having hundreds of beautiful things to artfully design a space in one and a half to two days and make it not just appealing to the educated eye but making sure that there was “flow” was a crash course in space planning. Hundreds of buyers were able to navigate the showroom, stop, place orders and have conversations without ever encountering a roadblock or dead-end.
One of our longer manufacturers of upholstered furniture, his company experiencing runaway growth, offered us the opportunity to move to the east coast from L.A. to better represent him on the eastern seaboard. We decided to once again take a leap off of the high dive and leave Los Angeles.
And that’s how we wound up in a sleepy little village called The Plains, Va. population 200.
A couple of years after that we saw an opportunity to open a retail showroom in a hundred year old building in the middle of this one block long town. We called it Peyton’s Place, a play on my first name and the famous book, movie and TV show about a sleepy little town in New England whose residents were anything but sleepy.
That was 18 years ago and how things have changed.
As we take yet another leap into the unknown, we are currently expanding into ecommerce with a new website. I’m excited and curious about where the world of retailing is going, especially “mom and Pop” businesses such as ours.
I guess time will tell. In the meantime welcome to our site. Enjoy and peruse and be sure to sign up to receive our newsletters and blog. I’ll do my best to entertain and inform you.
The accidental designer.