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Business Observer Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 4 years ago

Time to Shine

An opportunistic business owner hopes a move to a high-profile location will boost even more rapid growth.
by: Beth Luberecki Contributing Writer

When David Deakin and his wife, Robyn, bought a house in Nokomis, they sought a local lighting store in their neighborhood south of Sarasota — and couldn't find one.

“That's kind of when the lightbulb went off,” quips David Deakin.

Deakin grew up doing electrical work. It's a trade he learned from his parents, the longtime owners of Bob's Electric in Venice. Since he already knew how to turn on the lights, it was a natural next step to own a store that sold them. The Deakins purchased a property in Nokomis and two years ago opened Venice Lighting Co.

Despite the store's slightly off-the-beaten-path location, business has been going well. So well the company is plotting a move to a bigger, more noticeable site.

The Deakins are in the midst of renovating a circa-1920 building on U.S. 41 in Nokomis. The onetime grocery store was the couple's dream location when they first opened the business, but they couldn't afford it at the time. Now, after two successful years, they can afford the $655,000 purchase price and about $200,000 in renovations.

The new site will give Venice Lighting something it has never had: exposure. “We're putting a lot of work and effort into the front of the building,” says Deakin. “We want it to be a really nice place that as you drive by really stands out.”

A move from a road that sees maybe a few thousand cars a day to heavily traveled U.S. 41 should be the offline version of showing up on the first page of Google search results. “That road out there [in front of the new site] has 40,000 cars a day,” says Deakin. “The advertising value of that alone — if you can get 40,000 impressions a day, that costs a fortune to do.”

At 9,000 square feet, the new location is triple the size of the current 3,000-square-foot site, which will allow the business to showcase more inventory. The first floor will look a lot like the showroom customers shop in today. That space is filled with sleek pendant lights, sculptural glass chandeliers, stylish ceiling fans and other lighting options you probably won't find at big home-improvement stores.

The second floor will be a design center, in more of a room setting. “We can show some of the unique designs that not everyone is going to do every day,” says Deakin. “If they can't see it, and they can't picture it, they're not going to do it.”

Deakin hopes the move will lead to a 50% bump in sales this year and help the company triple its total revenue in the next three to four years. (He declined to disclose specific revenue figures.) “I think that is doable given some of the research I've done on similar showrooms with similar demographics,” he says.

He also expects to hire another electrician and additional sales staff, all of which will be full-time positions. The company offers installation and already has one electrician on staff. Deakin says the company should be in the new spot this spring.

The current Venice Lighting location is on the market for $595,000 and includes the showroom building and a 5,000-square-foot rear warehouse building occupied by multiple tenants. That warehouse space and the rent it generates was a big financial advantage for the Deakins when their business was just starting out.

The couple also has to figure out the logistics of making the move — a tricky process. “We have over 80 fans and about 1,000 light fixtures on display,” says Deakin. “Some of them are large and very heavy; it would be a nightmare to move them. So we're probably going to have a big sale and sell off the ones that make sense to sell off. Plus, a big sale drives interest.”

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