Dreamy decor and dresses at Real Deals

Longtime Chilliwack retailer Barb Kemp recently opened a Real Deals on Home Decor franchise downtown on Alexander Ave.

Longtime Chilliwack retailer Barb Kemp owns the new Real Deals on Home Decor Fraser Valley

Longtime Chilliwack retailer Barb Kemp owns the new Real Deals on Home Decor Fraser Valley

When you walk into Real Deals on Home Decor Fraser Valley, you experience the “wow factor.”

It’s the result of expert merchandising, and owner Barb Kemp has been perfecting the skill throughout her career.

“I love retail. I’ve been doing it all my life,” said Barb, who’s journey through business was featured in The Progress’ Neighbours column last week.

She owned and ran Classic Cards stationary store on Wellington for several years, and a similar scrapbooking shop on Alexander Avenue. But as 2015 was coming to a close, Barb wanted to tackle something new.

She took a trip to Kamloops to visit a Real Deals franchise – one of nearly 80 locations that have sprouted in North America since 2006 – to see what all the hype was about.

“I loved the look of the stores,” she said. Beautiful elements of home decor range from rustic country garden to modern elegance, sprinkled with quirky colourful statement pieces as well. And when she learned about the business model behind such charming stores, she knew that she’d found her perfect fit.

“I think I’d be really good at this,” she recalled saying to herself on the drive home to Chilliwack.

She closed Classic on Alexander in January, spent three months renovating and designing, and celebrated the grand opening of Real Deals on Home Decor Fraser Valley in April.

Each week, she and her team carefully rework the intricate store displays – in both home decor and ‘Boutique’ women’s fashion – by cycling existing and new inventory, ensuring that there’s always something fresh for customers to see.

“I look at it like a big scrapbook page,” Barb explained. Inspired by the variety, she pulls together collections of pieces to create complementary panoramas of diverse colour, shape and texture.

Most of the stores in the Real Deals franchise are only open two or three days per week. For Barb, the Fraser Valley store is open Thursdays to Saturdays. By doing so, staff are able to focus entirely on helping the customers, knowing that they can worry about processing inventory on their closed days.

While every Real Deals franchise is unique, there are common threads that tie them together as a brand.

Most notably, they’re known for their affordability. “They really pride themselves on having warehouse prices every day,” Barb explained. And they have the assortment to successfully appeal to a wide customer base.

Women of all sizes can find trendy outfits in the Boutique. There are amusing wall signs for all senses of humour. Tell time your own way with a unique wall clock.

“We have something for everyone,” Barb pointed out. “And if we don’t have it this week, we’ll have it next week,” she laughed.

Real Deals is open at 45933 Alexander Ave. Thursdays and Fridays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Watch for new shipments or social shopping events on their Facebook page, or give them a call at 604-402-3873.