Clarksville native and Made in the Shade Blinds and More franchise owner David Shelton has a heart for serving people.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is detrimental for some business owners, Shelton figured out a way to turn the negative situation into an opportunity to better serve customers.
The Made in the Shade business model relies heavily upon in-home consultations to sell their custom window coverings, which include draperies, shades, blinds and shutters. Stay-at-home orders and other COVID-19 restrictions created a downward trend in Shelton’s business. He knew he had to do things differently to keep his company running.
Shelton isn’t new to innovative ideas or the Made in the Shade company. In fact, Shelton was already an award-winning graphic designer when Made in the Shade Blinds and More founder and family friend Cathy Morse asked him to help design the company logo and provide insight on the company’s branding and marketing ideas.
Shelton worked with several franchise owners to provide advertising and marketing ideas and started paying closer attention to the Made in the Shade products themselves. Several franchise owners tried convincing Shelton to buy a franchise himself, but he didn’t like the idea of being a salesman.
He attended a national convention and visited a few of the company’s manufacturers and saw the quality of the products firsthand. He knew the superior products would sell themselves. He stepped down from his national marketing position and opened a franchise in Clarksville.
Shelton’s original storefront location was at 30 Crossland Ave. in the Tree of Life Center. The store was small, and the location was less than ideal, but Shelton and his crew still had steady business. Shelton’s business slowed when the Tree of Life Center grocery store closed in 2018.
When the coronavirus pandemic forced businesses to pivot or chance losing their livelihood, Shelton knew he had to make a change. Shelton decided he would take the gift of time he had been given to create his dream showroom.
He found an available property on Madison Street, but he knew it was going to need a lot of work to transform it from the drab, dated décor to the beautiful space he envisioned. Shelton tapped into his graphic design experience to pair colors and textures throughout his new showroom.
Store manager Heather Johnson and operations manager Jeremy Sumner worked with local businesses and craftsmen to turn Shelton’s dream into a reality. The new space has quadruple the space the former location had. Every square inch was carefully planned for the best possible customer experience, including ample spacing for wheelchair access.
Shelton and his team worked to make the space feel lush and inviting from the moment customers walk into the showroom. The centerpiece of the room features a posh seating area, including a tufted velvet sofa, a modern chandelier and an oversized coffee table with design idea books ready for perusing to spark customers’ imaginations.
The remaining space was divided into the different categories of products Made in the Shade sells. They include draperies and fabric Roman shades, horizontal sheers, wood and faux wood blinds, cellular and pleated shades and a variety of shutters.
The window covering options are nearly endless with custom fabrics, colors, materials and styles. Gone are the days of frustrating and dangerous cords on blinds. Some window coverings are motorized, which are ideal for hard-to-reach windows or for people with mobility issues.
Shelton said his dream was to have a living Pinterest page where customers can touch the fabrics and operate the different options. He wants his guests to see there are more options than a local big-box store has to offer.
For Shelton, it’s all about building relationships. Whether clients need to cover one window or an entire house full, he encourages guests to visit him for a free consultation. He wants to share the possibilities, inspirations and dreams that are possible when they think outside the box. His favorite part of his job is when a guest’s face lights up, and they experience that moment of awe.
Made in the Shade Blinds and More is at 1820 B Madison St. The grand opening for the new location is scheduled for Sept. 15 at 10 a.m. There will be door prizes, including gift certificates to local restaurants and businesses. Any customers who make an appointment that day will receive a 15%-discount off their entire bill.
Normal store hours are Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., Saturdays by appointment only, and it’s closed Sundays. It can be reached at 931-378-5157 or mitsclarksville.com to schedule a free design consultation and estimate.