Being open only two days a week might seem like an odd way to pull in customers, but it's a formula that has been extremely successful for three Minot businesswomen.
LeAnn Tennyson, Denise Kauer and Beth Slaton are the owners of Real Deals on Home Decor, located at 420B-15th St. SE, in the white Quonset next to the Electraped electric bicycle dealer at the old Alan Kurth car dealership across from Roosevelt Park Zoo. Real Deals, which has been open since Aug. 27 of this past year, is open Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"The three of us own the business together. We're it, from inventory to putting it together to helping it walk out the door," Tennyson said. "We help our customers out the door, too."
The business carries a wide array of home decor items, including candles, clocks, lamps, wall hangings, furniture, stars and signs.
"Just fun, chic, super-cool stuff for your home," Kauer said. "We have a little bit of something for everybody."
Kauer said stars, signs, mirrors, lanterns and clocks have proven quite popular with their customers so far, while Tennyson added that holiday decor is also something their customers have been clamoring for.
"And what's fun for us is when our customers come in and they'll lay it out and pattern it out on the floor, and work in a design," Tennyson said, noting they have plenty of tape measures to use if a customer forgets to bring their own. "And they're free to come in here (and) do that. We just love our customers because they're happy and they'll yell at their friend, 'Look what I see.'"
Real Deals is a national chain of stores, with Tennyson, Kauer and Slaton owning the Minot franchise. While they are only allowed to be open two days a week, they see this as a bonus.
"It's actually helped, because it's that sense of urgency to get in and see what we got," Tennyson said. "Especially with the way our inventory turns over, they come in faithfully and look. Thursdays and Saturdays is great."
Kauer added that only being open two days a week and running a warehouse-style atmosphere provides a lower overhead and allows them to keep their prices low.
Although they are normally only open on Thursdays and Saturdays, Real Deals does make exceptions to this rule. Tennyson said they do open for special events if someone calls ahead of time to set things up. The number is 852-0600.
"We'll open the doors for special events - bridal showers, birthday parties, a ladies night out, even a men's night out," Tennyson said, adding that the only day they don't do business on is Sunday.
Real Deals will also be open on Fridays during the upcoming basketball tournaments.
Keeping the atmosphere fun is one of the keys to the store's success, and that's why their customers keep coming back week after week. A list of customer rights on the wall includes the right to drool upon entering, making the store a preferred source of retail therapy, and mistaking Real Deals for heaven on Earth.
"The feedback's been it's just a fun atmosphere. A fun, laid-back atmosphere," Kauer said.
"I heard one lady say one time, she said to her friend across the store, 'You know, I've been looking for this stuff but I didn't even know where to go.' So she found it here," Slaton added. "That in itself shows that we have unique merchandise that people are looking for."
Tennyson noted they already have regulars who come in every lunch hour on Thursday to shop.
One thing Tennyson is excited about is the store's expansion into furniture. She said they will be getting some wicker furniture in March made of a high-quality resin that won't rot. To make room for the new merchandise, a moving wall at the rear of the store can be pushed back to offer more display area.
To keep things fresh, they switch a section of the store out with new merchandise every week so even regular customers always have something new to see when they stop by.
"Minot has received us so well. ... The surrounding area, I would say, has just been phenomenal, not only Minot," Tennyson said. "It's been great, we've been well received."
"We pretty much have the best customers in the world," Kauer added.