Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bellevue Is No Longer a Little Suburb

Last week my partner Herb and I went on a scouting mission into the great Mecca of retailing known as Bellevue. Just past the mall and over one block is where we currently have our 2nd store. But things are changing so quickly; there is a HUGE multi-condo/retail/blah-blah-blah complex being constructed where the old Arby's (and other small scale businesses) used to be. Now there is a big gaping hole, and we can see Bellevue Square right from the front doors of the shop.

So. With the growth of snazzy shopping experiences and high-end condo living, our humble paint store needs to find new digs. This is a good thing actually. It will bring us closer to our core base of customers.

In the old days, it didn't matter that we were in the heart of Bellevue, that's where everything was. But now, it can take 15 minutes just to dive in from the freeway (less than a mile), so the hassle factor is soon going to outweigh and benefits of history. We have been on the same block since the early 60's. Before the 520 floating bridge, if you can believe it!

Anyway - Herb and I went on a hunt. BINGO!! On a whim I drove him past a competitor's paint store that is ideally located just on the other side of the freeway in a small shopping center with 2 hip furniture stores, an appliance store, children's boutique furniture store and a high-end cabinet shop. Guess what? The store is moving and the space is soon available!!

How cool would that be? Not only that, but people who used to shop at the old place might automatically come to ours.

Not so good, it turns out. The rent is ASTRONOMICAL. Plus, the landlord is not too excited about negotiating price. Scratch that one off the list. Damn, woulda been pretty cool.

All is not lost, however. Another space is probably opening up in a few months, and it's soooooo much more affordable. And ample parking. And visible from the street. And easy access.

We shall see!

Being Independent Has It's Risks

One of the reasons Daly's became involved with C2 Paint was because it was created by and for independent retailers. As in other industries, we have felt the pinch of corporate consolidations, the pressure of the manufacturer to please their shareholders over the need to please their dealers, and we are very aware of the warm breath of the category-killer box stores breathing down our necks.

Today, I am looking at another pressure. And this is by a company that we don't even represent in our stores! I suppose this is nothing new. If there is one lesson I've learned from my association with my C2 partners, it's this: Whatever affects one independent dealer affects us all. No great revelation there, really. However, it's in sharp focus right now.

It makes for very interesting times.

Speaking of interesting: My partner Herb and I are going out today to start scouting places to relocate our Bellevue store. All the development that's been happening in downtown Bellevue is showing us that we need to make it easier for our customers to have access to us. I'm excited!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Oh, By the Way

The last two tiles were installed today. Can't wait to get home and see the kitchen!

Interesting Things to Ponder...

Met with some radio folks today. Their station is going BIG TIME, 50,000 watts. That's the maximum wattage allowed, apparently, by the FCC. The only other local stations at that size are KIRO and KOMO, so it's a bit of a big deal.

Christian and I have the opportunity to go with them on their wattage journey and grow. Should we do it? How can we not? Makes a girl think... and think...

Friday, May 19, 2006

When it Rains

When it's even the slightest bit overcast customers come out of the woodwork like slugs in the garden on a rainy day. Yesterday, which was gorgeous, there was nary a customer in sight... Why is that? You'd think it'd be the opposite phenomenon. Make hay while the sun shines and all that.

So, word to the wise - come in on a sunny day!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Moral Dilemma or Opportunity Knocks?

Okay. Here's the deal:

Christian and I have been approached to start a show on a local talk radio station - currently they broadcast at a low range (wattage, power, whatever...) but they are ramping it up in near future and are planning on going head to head with the reigning talk station.

Here's the issue: By talk radio, they mean CONSERVATIVE talk radio. Not NPR. Al Franken is probably their poster boy all thing wrong in the world.

Should we entertain the idea of hosting a weekend show that focuses on interior design and lifestyle? I find the idea of a live show very appealing, but is it the right home for us?

On one hand, this is the perfect place to be heard - people listen to their radios on the weekend for just this type of content when they want a break from the stresses of the week. No politics (besides recycling of resources, going green with building materials, etc) need enter the conversation.

On the other hand...

Last year Christian and I got our toes wet by hosting a short-lived show on a station that NOBODY heard. On the positive side, we found we work very well together, our content and guests were good, our banter was light and fun without being annoying - but we weren't live and it became a lot of work to fill that whole hour without the interaction from the listening audience. Oh, and the station wasn't on ANYONE'S radar. But the show itself was a good show.

The right home would make all the difference. It will be an interesting meeting on Thurdsay when we find out more about this potential show.

Mini Vacation

The floor refinishers arrived this morning to give the kitchen floor a much needed facelift. The next two nights we'll be living at the Silver Cloud Inn about a mile down the road.

I'm not sure what is more exciting to the kids - swimming pool access on a school night or the complimentary breakfast bar. Living like a tourist in our own town. Whoooeee.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

San Francisco Days...

San Francisco is a pastel city. Even colors that aren't pastels, looks so amazingly rich but soft in this atmosphere.

Everywhere you look, it's so creamy and dreamy. All the Victorian embellishments you see on buildings practically everywhere make for some wonderful eye candy - and no calories!

See this house? It's the FIRST C2 house painted in San Francisco... the paint has only been available for 3 weeks, and it's already taking off. The painter was excited to be the first to buy C2 Paint, he was waiting at the doors for the store to open at 6:30am the first day it was available.

The amount of detail involved in a project like this just stuns me. This particular painter goes to great lengths on prepping the building - which insures a long life for the paint job. No small feat considering the city is perched at the edge of the ocean - never nice to paints.

And if you look closely at the detail shot, you will see these small ball accent features... the gleam in the sun comes from gold leaf - there is no way to replicate that with simple gold paint, the gold leaf makes the buildings POP.

I think I counted 9 different colors on this facade... I lost count!

I had a blast visiting paint stores in the area: G & R Paint in San Francisco, Tamalpais Paint in Corte Madeira and Gray's Paint in Burlingame... three top notch paint dealers who are rolling out the C2 brand in the SF market, all at the same time. I am so thrilled! (Hey, I can't wear the crown of Paint Princess if I don't wax poetic about my fellow INDEPENDENT paint retailers, now can I?)

The highlight of the trip was our Designer Presentation last night at the flagship Design Within Reach furniture store. About 60 designers turned out for the party, not bad considering I was hoping we'd get about 25. Food was tasty, wine was great, the designers were wonderful!

I have another house I need to show you. Philip Reno, owner of G&R Paints has his own line of complex full-spectrum colors called Phillip's Perfect Colors. These colors appear as if they have an almost pearlescent undertone built into each color. I have never seen anything like it.

Well, there is a STUNNING home which he was involved in tinting, I think in the Pacific Heights neighborhood... Look at this - delicate colorations; but strong enough to be used on a large-scale building without loosing it's integrity.


Although, what's with the tree pruning in this town? I saw tree after tree pruned (I'd consider it CARVED) down to stumpy branches... awkward looking. I wasn't just this house, I saw it all over the place. I don't get it.

Here's another beauty shot:

See how the gold leaf just gleams? Wow.

Over and out for now.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Two Tiles Short

My husband has come to the conclusion that contractors are an optimistic bunch. They have to be to think they can complete projects in the timeframes they give themselves!

Tile installation took two days, not one. Not only that, but we are two tiles short. Two!

Speaking of optimistic, why did I spend a whole hour watching the Dynasty reunion last night? It was soooooo bad - not even kitschy-bad, just bad bad.

Next week I am flying down to San Francisco to help some three new C2 partners get their line launched in the SF market. This is so exciting, to be able to roll out C2 to California in a very meaningful way. We are planning a designer presentation at the Design Within Reach store, and one of the designers who is attending has regular appearances on HGTV. How cool is that?

So... what am I going to wear?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Scouting for a New Location

We've been in Bellevue since 1961. Actually, we've been on the same street, in three different locations since '61. However, Bellevue is not the same town and we need to move.

In the early 60's there were 5 different paint stores within a 3 block radius. There was no Home Depot. Bellevue Square was an outdoor complex of shops. No Microsoft.

It's exciting to consider moving. The growth of that store has been very good these last few years, and if we are more conveniently situated, I imagine it only getting better.

Currently the challenge is driving through the downtown corridor to our store. There is a lot of new condo and retail being built - but we better serve single family repaints - not new construction. So the hassle factor will soon outpace the cool factor of shopping at our store. Not a good scenario.

I think we should just follow Whole Foods. Or Trader Joes. Where goes good food, goes good paint!