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Retailer steps into flooring on her own

Interior design: Santa Clarita resident opens showroom, hosts wine-and-cheese events for customers

Posted: February 15, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 15, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Sharon King, right, of Rudio Designz shows samples to Janet and Doug Garwood at the Valencia store Friday.

 

If her store appears to be too high-end for cost-conscious shoppers, custom floor and interior design retailer Dawn Rudio wants people to know the showroom really reflects what homeowners can do on a budget.

“It’s made up of all secondhand items,” Rudio said. “I hand-painted all my own antiques. The store was put together on a dime. It’s not the dollar amount you spend, it’s how you put it all together.”

A longtime fixture in the flooring business and local community, Santa Clarita resident Rudio worked with Brent’s Carpets for about 12 years, and then went on to manage Elite Flooring before the retailer closed. The next step in her career path was to open the 1,400-square-foot Rudio Designz Sept. 1, 2011.

“I knew the business so well. I just decided to do it myself,” she said. “I couldn’t market myself very well out of my home, and you’re not as legitimate if you don’t have a showroom — so I opened my own store.”

The studio, as Rudio refers to her store, is not about displaying too many items and overwhelming customers. Instead, she designed the store with architectural features, sofas and a custom-designed staircase to  give the showroom a more “homey feel” and set it apart from the competition.

On Friday evenings, she hosts wine-and-cheese events for customers from 5-7 p.m. so they can get a feel for the store and all its offerings. Shoppers can go to various stations to select their flooring samples and colors.

The retailer is a resource for do-it-yourself enthusiasts, Rudio said. The showroom is geared toward the clients who also feel they need the help of a designer or consultant without having to hire one.

Creating a sort of one-stop consulting environment, Rudio has brought in other local merchants to help her shoppers with all their design needs. Tom Fisk, who closed his Coming Home Fabrics store at the end of 2011, works out of her store assisting customers with fabric selections. Other local businesses step in to help, as well, including Pat McPherson Interiors, Lisa Dunlap of Tesori Designs and Darren Renfro of Custom Stairs of Valencia.

“Dawn and I met up on a job doing stairs in house once when she came to measure floors,” said Darren Renfro of Custom Stairs. “She saw what I was doing, so that interested her. We’ve worked together in the past on other projects.”

Financing the opening of her store with a small-business loan, the rest of the investment has been all sweat and labor Rudio said.

“I’m used to selling $1 million a year,” Rudio said. “But sales at the store since September have been better than expected. I had some nice, big jobs through the holidays, which was unexpected.”

The only overhead Rudio has is rent keeping her pricing extremely fair, she said. She and her mom operate the store. And Rudio says she throws in a lot of extra service, design help, for the cost of only the flooring.

Rudio’s vision, however, is to create a cul-de-sac of all décor-oriented stores for shoppers who want to upgrade their homes without hiring designers.

Located by the old Trader Joe’s store and next door to Fresh Works restaurant on Cinema Drive, Rudio’s would like to see other home-design retailers move in to existing small storefronts so shoppers only have to drive to one location to get all the services they need.

Rudio Designz is located at 23340 Cinema Drive in Santa Clarita and can be reached at (661) 799-5868. More information is available online at www.rudiodesignz.com/Home_Staging_Santa_Clarita_CA.html

jadkins@the-signal.com

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