Attention business owners: Once your employees have learned enough about your industry, they are bound to take that experience and leave you to start their own business.
Don’t get upset, these things happen.
That’s what Allen Starkey, 42, and Eddie Nelson, 41, have done, combining their extensive furniture sales backgrounds and opening The Olympia Furniture Co., a retailer of new furniture that opened in west Olympia in July.
Furniture is spread throughout the 11,000-square-foot showroom and business has been good, the store registering at least a sale a day, they said.
Business, too, is picking up as they approach the holidays, and the owners expect to benefit from the recent shakeout in the furniture business after several stores closed as a result of the Great Recession.
Among them was Phyl’s Furniture, which closed locations in Olympia and west Olympia.
If they can catch about one-third of the sales left behind by those other furniture businesses “we will do very well,” Nelson said.
The store sells a range of furniture — beds, bedroom sets, mattresses, sofas, recliners, tables, chairs — and prices vary, too. A sofa-loveseat combination ranges from $599 to $3,000 and queen-size mattresses can cost from $299 to $3,000, Starkey said.
Most of what they sell is purchased from vendors in the region, including Grandwood Furniture in Lakewood.
Running his own business is a dream come true for Nelson, he said.
He has been working in the furniture business since he was 19 and had long wanted to open a business. Nelson said he’s glad he waited, though, so he could gain the right experience and work with the right partner.
Nelson and Starkey have been friends since 1996.
Olympia Furniture customer Britanya Edmonds of Olympia, whose husband serves in the military, said her family recently moved to the area from Virginia.
They went shopping for bedroom furniture and set out to support a local business.
“We took a chance and we were pleasantly surprised,” she said.
The Olympia Furniture Company LLC
Owners: the business is co-owned by Allen Starkey and Eddie Nelson
Location: 2302 Harrison Ave N.W., Suite 101
Years in business: the furniture business opened in July.
Type of business: new furniture retailer
Employees: Starkey and Nelson, who sometimes get help from family members
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.
Advice to business owners: Nelson said you need to be willing to commit and invest time in the business, and Starkey added that you have to make sure to follow through for your customers. “Do what you say and say what you do,” he said.
Rolf Boone firstname.lastname@example.org 360-754-5403