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The One With The Hand Rolled Dominican On The Table.
Act Two - Scene One
So. The how-to window-it textbooks. Here are some basics. Remember you are the decorator.
1. Develop and maintain a personality for your store. Show how futons accommodate guests, yet double as small-office-home-office centerpieces, and are stylish too.
2. Create a color scheme. Select a dominant color, then use other colors to soften the look. Here are some color basics:
Red: stimulating and cheery, encourages conversation and activity (not good for a bedroom).
Blue: intellectual, cool and calming.
Yellow: warmth, relaxation, use where room is dark.
Orange: got a fast food restaurant? The color of "yes, double fries with that cheeseburger." And yet, Beyond Futons sells lots of futon covers in orange: "Go figure!" says Pat Dortch.
Green: cooling, soothing, serenity, hopefulness.
Black, grey and white: intensifies the other colors you are showcasing.
3. Consider what you are selling and to whom. Use unmatched items for a less formal look. Use futon covers with receding colors on large pieces. Bold and brights work well in a sparsely appointed window presentation. Futons are unpretentious and informal. Beyond Futons shows them casual-style as well as formal-style. "Charlotte is a banking town," Pat Dortch points out, "so we show customers options that fit their home, no matter the decor."
4. Have it on file. Make a system of paint chips, wallpaper, floor treatments you like, fabrics and stains for each of the rooms you show. Take some pictures and be ready one year later when the customer drives up and wants it just like last year's showcase (the one you've since dismantled and forgotten).
5. Start small. You say, "I am not a decorator." Neither were Pat and Rachel when they began. She came from the restaurant side, he was a carpenter. Start by trying a small, inexpensive window display. Listen to feedback. Friends. Family. Customers. In time, the Dortch's got to a point where they had to write down the ideas flying around. These informal focus groups got them fired up, and ideas shot off like Carolina fireworks. Through it all they have become the unacknowledged sales window display champion. How? By going through a process, we suspect, that they are in love with, and which is no longer perceived as work.
"We never sit down and say 'Let's get ready for the next window'," Pat Dortch notes.
"We don't work that way at all. One of us has an idea, the other jumps in, and the energy revs up - we've learned we have to take notes," he says.
"At first I was worried that $100 in props and plants and so on would be a waste of money. But after we started to do our windows, we realized how many people would see them and take notice. We do image print ads as well as TV and radio, but our windows really do stop traffic," he says.
Window displays, once they need to be replaced, are rotated inside their store. Winners are rotated to Beyond Futons' second location in the northern part of the city.
Beyond Futons, A Thumbnail
Mike Dortch and a partner opened the business in 1988, and moved to a store front a year later. His brother Pat became the store's business manager two years later.
"Beyond Futons" is now a two-store, family-owned Charlotte, NC success story that continues to unfold. All three (Mike, who began the business in the basement of his home, Pat and Rachel Dortch) have arrived at an enthusiastic appreciation of the importance of extraordinary futon furniture product window displays.
Pat and Rachel bought out Mike's original partner in 1994, adding accessories and casegoods and changing the name to Beyond Futons, reflecting the store's new merchandising mix.
A second location opened in 1995. At present, the company employs nine, including staff and owners. Mike is the financial and business manager; Pat is responsible for purchasing and operations, and Rachel handles merchandising and purchasing.
Drive by day or night, the windows will lure you Beyond Futons.