Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Business Review July 2007.
Abbey Carpets Unlimited
By Julie Gordon
Are you in the market for some new carpet? Do you want to replace your carpeting with hardwood floors? Abbey Carpets Unlimited can help. The full-service flooring store, at 1145 Jordan Lane in Napa, sells and installs carpet and hardwood floors and also laminates, tile and stone, says owner Janice Clifton.
Some people who come into Abbey Carpets are remodeling their home. Others need to replace their carpet because the family dog or a flood has damaged it. The store also attracts people who are selling their homes and want to install new carpet so their homes will sell more easily.
There are several different styles of carpet from which to choose, including textured, Berber and plush, says Clifton, noting that textured is her most popular seller. In terms of fiber, nylon carpet sells the best. “We sell mostly nylon carpet because we believe it in general has the best performance for the most value.”
Wool carpet also is a good option, and the store has an extensive collection of wool carpet as well. “Since nylon prices have increased tremendously in the last few years, wool carpet has become a better value,” Clifton explains. “It’s also the best carpet for customers who want an environmentally-friendly carpet in their home.”
Abbey Carpets gets most of its inventory from Georgia and some from Los Angeles. It takes an average of two weeks from when customers order the carpet until it’s installed. Some in-stock carpets can be installed in less time.
Clifton estimates that about half her business comes from carpet sales and the other half comes from “hard surface” sales. Hardwood and tile make up the biggest portion of the “hard surface” sales. “Hardwood has been a consistently strong product in our market and ceramic tile and natural stone continue to grow,” says Clifton.
Laminate floors also have become more popular over the past few years. “The look and feel of these laminates has greatly improved,” she says. “Many of these laminates have the look of exotic wood including the beveled edge but are more durable than wood for an active family.”
Abbey Carpets shares the purchasing power of more than 700 stores, which enables Clifton to sell her products at reduced prices. The store has 18,000 square feet of space, of which about 10,000 is devoted to showing product. “We have one of the larger stores in the area and are able to show large samples of our carpet and still have a large selection of tile, hardwood and laminate,” says Clifton. “Our tile showroom alone is almost 2,500 square feet.”
The company has 23 employees as well as a group of installers. “I am blessed to have an excellent sales staff and group of installers that try very hard to make the entire experience from choice to installation a pleasant one,” Clifton says. Saleseople don’t work on a commission basis, which provides customers with a relaxing, pressure-free environment.
Clifton, who is on-hand almost daily to give personal assistance to customers, runs the business with her husband Jon. She works on the sales floor, helps with office duties and supports her employees while Jon, who is a technical and mechanical person, keeps all of the computers, printers, vehicles and equipment working.
“It’s a family-owned business and I like that,” says Maureen Paladini, who has been an Abbey Carpets customer for more than 20 years. “I like the idea of the owners being on-site. The staff has been there a long time. They’re extremely knowledgeable about their products. I like the fact that they have upscale products. You don’t have to go outside Napa. Their prices are competitive. The showroom is well set up. You can see all of the goods they have. It’s well displayed. If you’re budget conscious, they can serve that need. I’ve never been unhappy. There’s always someone there who can help you. They’re helpful, but not pushy.”
Two generations of Drew Coburn’s family have worked with Abbey Carpets. “Everyone is polite, professional, well-mannered,” she says. “There’s not a lot of competition (because staff work on a non-commission basis). Everyone has a positive outlook. They know their business. They know their products. Every one of those people is wonderful.”
Joan Pieper turns to Abbey Carpets when she has flooring needs for rental properties she owns in the area as well as her own home. “They live by The Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have done to you,” she says. “They have longevity in their staff. They have excellent installers. They stand behind their products. They are courteous, and above all they are honest. They’re just nice people. I’ve recommended them to everyone I know.”
Clifton points out Abbey Carpets is very involved in the local community. The store donates to nonprofits such as The Boys & Girls Club and Aldea. “The Boys & Girls Club and Aldea are great resources for the youth of our community and we try to give them a great deal of support,” she says. Abbey Carpets also gives area rugs to schools and nonprofits for auctions. “Last year, we gave over 30 rugs to local nonprofits to use in their actions.”
Abbey Carpets actually started out Carpets Remnants Unlimited. Clifton and her dad, John, purchased the business in 1985 from previous owner Pat Sibbett. It worked out perfectly, since Clifton, who has an accounting background, had been the store’s accountant. “My experience as an accountant has been an invaluable help in managing this business,” she says.