The San Francisco Mart announces that Wes & Paula Holt of Home Collections in Salem, Ore., will be the recipients of the Mart’s Gold Pass award for Summer Market 2004.
The Gold Pass is awarded to select Western retailers who have distinguished themselves by their industry participation, the caliber of their retail stores and their ongoing support of the SFM. The Holts will be honored at a ceremony at 6:15 p.m. on July 17 at the SF Concourse during The Party held to celebrate the Western Home Furnishings Association’s (WHFA) 60th anniversary.
When Wes & Paula Holt decided to open an Oak Unlimited franchise in 1996 in Salem, Oregon, they had no idea what they were getting into. With no previous experience in the industry, the former military officer and homemaker delved into home furnishings at a time when the tide of imports was just rising into the tumult it is now today and the pace of change was beginning to accelerate at an unprecedented speed.
Given the timing of their foray, the Holts learned quickly to adapt and availed themselves of the tools available through WHFA and the Pacific Furniture Dealers (PFD). After five years of getting their feet wet with a 5,000-square-foot, oak-only store, the Holts became independent operators. Listening to customer comments about the nice selection of dining that they had in their small store, Wes & Paula decided to dedicate 10,000 square feet of the new store just to dining – making them the largest independent dining retailer on the West Coast.
The Holts added leather to the mix in 2003, and just added another 10,000 square feet for an upholstery gallery. Paula says that now their customers come in for the complete home package. “We’re becoming known for having the nicest displays and best accessories,” says Paula.
The Holts prefer to shop in San Francisco. “Buying from West Coast vendors alleviates many shipping problems and ensures a timely delivery of our customer’s custom orders,” states Paula. And, she adds, “since we didn’t grow up in the industry, the educational seminars and networking are invaluable.”
“With all the competition, we have to really plan ahead and choose what we buy more carefully,” Paula says. “We focus on what we think would look beautiful in a home, buying things outside of our comfort zones and tastes, not just what we like.”
The Holts want their store to be more than just about selling furniture. They want to be part of the community and have hosted special events to create that atmosphere.
The Holts live with their three children in Salem.
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