Being open two days a week may seem to run counter to growing a business, but for Walla Walla's Real Deals on Home Decor it's been a successful strategy.
"The company's theory is that you need to have a life outside of work," said Ginny Perry, who co-owns the business with her daughter, Kyla Nunes.
"Often people who own their own businesses work seven days a week, with no break. If you're only open two days a week, you also save on the overhead, heating, cooling," she said.
Another factor, Perry said, is that the Thursdays and Saturdays the store is open are like special events for customers, with anticipation and excitement added to the fun atmosphere and crisp energy: "I have to hit it then or I'll miss it. You can't wait." she said.
That strategy also is a hit with employees who may want to work very part time or work around another job.
Opening during the "great recession" with a store that is selling non-essential items sounds risky. But Perry said if they can make it during the current economic downturn, they can make it anytime.
Even in difficult economic times, maybe especially in such times, people need beauty, fun and a soothing environment. Real Deals, which has been in business since December 2008 and relocated in May to 1917 E. Isaacs Ave., strives to offer just that.
The store is a franchise of the Jefferson, Ga.-based Real Deals on Home Decor corporation. In addition to the mother-daughter ownership team, the Walla Walla store operates with two employees and extra help from family -- Ginny's husband Mark Perry and son, Mitch Perry, who also is Nunes' brother.
Kyla Nunes said the new location has a huge storage facility. The retail space has expansion capacity, and there are plans for a "seasonal room" during Christmas that can later morph into a selection of spring items.
The larger space makes it possible to carry more variety in products, including a recent shipment of new furniture. The store is all on one level, with no stairs, making it much easier for customers.
The pricing is set by the Real Deals corporation, as is the look and color-scheme of the store -- tan in a certain area, brown in another and faux brick behind the counter. The family-friendly store also has a child's playroom, decked out in bright colors to help kids pass the time while parents shop.
By design, the store is not supposed to look too high end, just beautiful and very homey. Items often have lower price points than the same things in other stores.
"One of the reasons we've done so well through the recession is that people still want nice things," Perry said.
"They're working just as hard as before, maybe harder now because of layoffs. They need something nice," Nunes added.
Opening their own business is a whole new adventure, mother and daughter said. Neither had retail backgrounds other than knowing what a good shopping experience is.
"Nothing more than a yard sale," Nunes said.
So the two-day a week operation is a good place to start.
They first found out about Real Deals from friends in their car club while Perry was in Lewiston and went to a franchise.
"We definitely need to bring one to Walla Walla," Nunes decided. That was in August 2008, and they opened their store before Christmas.
All merchandise is new, nothing refurbished or consigned.
Nunes said owning her own business is fantastic,with plenty of support from family, great customers and new experiences.
"I learned how to drive a forklift, and that never would have happened otherwise," she said.