Our Story – St Louis Window Treatment Company
Sandy and I met in 2009 at a Christmas party. One thing led to another and we began dating. As I got to know Sandy, I could see that she was an immensely talented lady. She had an extraordinary talent for decorating and design. At the time, I was in the real estate business, and although I enjoyed it, it was a tough market.
As our relationship grew, I began to develop a respect and envy of Sandy’s career path. I could see how much her customers loved her and the satisfaction she felt.
As the real estate business continued to be unyielding, I began assisting Sandy with her clients’ needs. It began as painting (a former career) and blossomed into the installation of home décor. I found I enjoyed working closely with each client.
Fast forward to the day Sandy heard of a sales position for a window treatment company, which we both thought might be a good fit for me. Three days later I was employed and selling window treatments. I was burning the candle from both ends, still involved with real estate, painting and now a salesperson for window treatments.
As the weeks went by, I developed a passion for selling window treatments – it is truly something that I enjoy.
As we continued to grow our careers, we realized that we began passing a lot of business back and forth to one another. I continued to work. Sandy would go on an appointment and come home and say I have a client that needs window treatments. I would do the same and come home and say I met a customer today that needs decorating help. As we went on, we began discussing the possibility of opening our own business.
Not long after, our discussion began in earnest. What would it be like if we had our own store? What would we call it? Where would it be located? What vendors would we use? What does a lease cost? What window treatment manufacturer would we use? What are the risks? And hundreds of more questions…
So I said, why don’t we get in the car and drive to town and see what’s available for rent. I just thought, hey let’s see what some of these vacant commercial places look like. I mean we didn’t know anything about a lease, triple net lease, insurance, down payments, nothing. We were as green as could be.
So, we hopped in the car and drove 2 blocks to town, as we rounded the corner at Kehrs Mill Rd and Holloway Rd Sandy saw a place that looked vacant so she said drive over there – let’s look in that building. As we were peeking through the window a lady who owned the business next door came outside and said are you interested in that storefront? We mentioned that we were just looking and thinking of opening our own business. The lady asked if we would like her to call the owner and see if he can come let you in to see it. Sandy and I looked at each other thinking, we have no accounts set up with any vendors or window treatment manufacturers and I was also thinking I hadn’t even installed a window treatment, only sold them. So, were we really ready to meet with a landlord to discuss a commercial lease?? But, we said, sure give him a call. Sure enough, he came right up and met with us.
When we went into the building for the first time it was pretty rough – lime green walls with polka dots, dirty drop ceiling, questionable flooring. It was a real mess. As we were looking around, we were trying to get a vision for what our business would look like. Sandy and I started talking about the possibilities and how we thought the store might look. After talking to the landlord and negotiating a fair lease we decided to go for it so we signed a 2.5-year lease 3 days later. Unbelievable!!
Now it was time to get to work, but we still had no idea what was in store for us.
I went to work immediately demolishing the inside of the store. I took out everything until we had bare steel beams and drywall and we started with a clean slate. Meanwhile, Sandy was busy getting us ready to go to market in Atlanta to contract with vendors. The challenge of going to market and staying organized with your products and vendor selection was discouraging at times but after a few trips to the market and learning how the buying business works we had some accounts set up.
Back at the store, I was learning to drywall and mud, lay tile, build framing, cut and hang crown molding, build a pallet floor and many more things. Thank God for YouTube! I worked on the building whenever I had time mostly in the morning and evening as I was still selling window treatments for the company I worked for and also doing some real estate.
Sandy was busy designing our logo, ordering stock, setting up accounts, ordering a POS system, and many more things.
After months of hard work, sweat and tears House In Style opened on September 17th, 2013. I immediately went to work trying to drum up business. I made flyers on my computer and walk parking lots handing them out. I marketed our company on FB, our website, Houzz, and Google Plus. I asked for reviews from customers and posted pictures of the store and before and after pictures of window treatment jobs.
It was slow in the beginning, many sleepless nights and thoughts of if we would make it through the next month. We worked hard, we didn’t give up and we still work just as hard today. We tried a few print ad publications that produced 6-7 calls a week and FB ads to help build our audience. Sandy’s customers were very supportive of us and also referred us business. We advertised with St. Louis Homes Magazine as well as others.
Slowly but steadily our business grew, people started to find us through word of mouth, the small publications we did and just stumbling upon us.
For the first 3.5 years, Don & Sandy did everything in the business, Sales, Administration, Installs, Inventory, Marketing, Technology, just to name a few. Whatever needed to be done we just figured out a way to get it done.
As our business grew, we could see that in order for our window treatment business to grow, we needed a different name. I mean people really aren’t looking for window treatments using a search word House In Style. So, we took a chance on the name St. Louis Blinds and Shutters. And then BAM!! We knocked it out of the park!! The name and domain name was available!!
We had a website built solely for the St. Louis Blinds and Shutters part of the business and began filling it with content. After about 6 months the website began producing leads. We were now doing about 30 jobs a month and the back office of our business was constantly full of boxes. There were days when we could barely move in there. I remember having to go on appointments, do installs, checking in inventory, fix computer problems, hang things in the showroom, and many more things, all in the same day… It was a lot of crazy days but I got to tell you we never lost energy or drive.
As the days went on we got used to what we were doing and then we were presented with an unbelievable opportunity. We were offered a chance to become the premier dealership for all 3 Costco Warehouses in St. Louis handling all the sales and installations of window treatments for all the members. Again, at that time it was still just Sandy and me so here we are with the unknown. Who do we hire to help? How do we hire? How do we train them? Where do we keep our inventory? We were already out of space. Who’s going to do installs? I was already stretched thin. And lots more questions and unknowns.
We told Costco we would love the opportunity and we went for it!
We went through a long interview process and after a month or so we got the contract.
We hired a salesperson and trained her, then we hired another one, then we hired an installer and trained him. We had to develop systems to run the business so we knew what was coming in and what was due to be installed. It was quite an undertaking and one that we try to improve on daily. We now have 6 employees. We went from doing 10 jobs a month to 50.
We are still focused on our #1 priority, CUSTOMER SATISFACTION!
Our business is a very personal business and that’s how we’ve built it. It’s about working with people to help them achieve their goals! It’s about enjoying the day to day interaction with people. It’s about creating a personalized business where the customer knows they will be taken care of.
It’s about family and friends.
It is our sincere hope that you will choose St. Louis Blinds and Shutters for all your window treatment needs – where customer satisfaction is our #1 priority.
If you are looking for St Louis Window Treatment Company then please call 314-574-6035 or complete our online request form.