Vineyard Decorators lures Islanders to shop at home
Vineyard Decorators recently unveiled a newly expanded design center and wide-ranging array of home furnishings, suitable for cottage or trophy house, aimed at keeping Islanders shopping locally.
Although Vineyard Decorators has been in business for 33 years, with the increasing lure of off-Island competition, owners John and Birgitta Parker said they recognized the importance of periodically analyzing their market and products in order to be responsive to their customers' needs. They also check prices on the mainland to keep theirs competitive.
"We want people on Martha's Vineyard to stay shopping on the Vineyard," said Ms. Parker. "We want them to come to us first, and see that we have affordable products, as well as high-end ones."
Mr. Parker said he started Vineyard Decorators at its airport location as an upholstery shop in 1973, expanding the business over the years to include indoor and outdoor furniture, window treatments, rugs, bath accessories, lingerie, giftware, and bedding.
The second floor features more affordable furniture, Ms. Parker said, perhaps for couples starting out or people furnishing second homes or rentals. The store also is adding an affordable line of bed linens, mattress pads, and pillows. Vineyard Decorators continues to offer custom upholstery, draperies, and furniture repair in a separate building behind the store, managed by James Meyst, an employee since 1984.
Jana Burvikovs, vice president of design for Wesley Hall, displays one of the many fabrics her company offers. Photo by Charlie Utz
The Parkers pride themselves on providing jobs for 12 year-round and three seasonal employees. They recently hired Lisa Da Silva as their general manager, who brings her expertise as a business consultant and her experience as the owner of two Island businesses, Let Me Do That and Home Clean Home.
"My goal was to round them out, and make sure people remember they're out here," Ms. Da Silva said. "So many people don't realize we have thousands of square feet of store." Last fall, she went to the furniture industry's market shows, researching different vendors to add to the Vineyard Decorators showroom.
"The Parkers feel strongly about standing behind what they sell," Ms. Da Silva said. "We tried to find a lot of items manufactured in America, including more affordable mattresses and furnishings, so Island families can afford to shop here. Also, with the huge rental industry here, if something gets broken, owners can replace it."
In addition to expanding their affordable furniture inventory, the Parkers recently added a new vendor for customized orders. About three and a half years ago, they discovered a line of upper-end upholstered furniture made by Wesley Hall, a North Carolina-based manufacturer. Impressed by the quality of the company's furniture and looking to replace a vendor, the Parkers pursued a partnership, which they viewed as a good fit between two long-time family-owned businesses.
Vineyard Decorators' new design center features Wesley Hall furniture, showcased in groupings complete with accent pieces from lamps to color-matched rag rugs hand-woven by Patricia Lukas of Loominaries in New Jersey.
Jana Burvikovs, Wesley Hall's vice president of design, made a guest appearance at the design center's opening a few weeks ago to present the company's colorful array of upholstery swatches, leather, and trims. Custom choices also include about 36 different wood finishes.
Customers may order anything from one yard of fabric to a whole room full of custom-upholstered furniture, Ms. Burvikovs said. Many of Wesley Hall's 800 to 900 fabric selections are exclusives she designed, working directly with mills, mostly in the U.S.
"We are all about color," Ms. Burvikovs said, as she held up swatch after swatch from two towering stacks of coordinated fabrics in solids, stripes, and patterns that offered numerous possible combinations. Wesley Hall analyzed its market carefully in terms of distinct geographical likes and dislikes, she explained. While New Englanders lean towards beach and ocean colors, southwesterners favor bright, bold colors, and westerners dark, earthy colors, for example.
Rick Lindsey, a Wesley Hall representative for New England and upstate New York, in attendance with Ms. Burvikov, said the company emphasizes service. "Our goal is to ship 85 percent of our orders within 45 days or less," he said.
Guests invited to the open house and design center's unveiling included Island interior designers, real estate brokers, architects, and builders, who enjoyed a lunch catered by Tea Lane Caterers.
"We wanted to reconnect with them, and let them know they don't have to go to a Boston design center," Ms. Da Silva explained. "They can come right here to us, and we'll get them what they need."
Joan Dunayer of Martha's Vineyard Real Estate and Patty Kendall of Kendall and Kendall Real Estate, who both won door prizes at the event, said it proved helpful to them, because their clients often ask advice about furnishings, whether to make a rental home look more inviting or to make a home more appealing to sell.
Vineyard Decorators plans to hold a tent sale and launch the design center to the public on May 25-27 over Memorial Day weekend, Ms. Da Silva said.
"We invite sneak previews and would welcome feedback from the public, as well," she added. "We want to be one-stop shopping for Island homes."