Since 1972 SmartLooks Window & Wall Decor has weathered storms caused by economic downturns, market saturation and industry shifts. But through every challenge the business has demonstrated a Darwinistic ability to adapt.
After nearly 10 years as Economy Carpets of Richardson, owners Norman and Lucy Morrow separated from their business partner. They opened a new location in 1980, rebranded and began selling window coverings, such as blinds, shutters and shades.
Norman even developed his own ready-made blinds, which were produced in bulk quantities and tailored to fit specific window dimensions. It was not long before industry giant Levolor took notice and paid a visit to the SmartLooks showroom.
“My parents shared their ready-made concept,” daughter and store manager Valerie Kernan said. “They were very proud.”
Levolor’s entrance to the ready-made market meant the Morrows could no longer compete. Instead, they joined Levolor and became the No. 1 sellers nationwide of the brand’s ready-made blinds.
“We carried the major brands at that time and really grew our business,” Kernan said.
Rather quickly the lucrative ready-made sector became overcrowded, Kernan said. Once again the Morrows were faced with an ultimatum: adapt or quit. They chose the former.
“We had gone through the ready-made boom where blinds became like a commodity,” she said. “So we went custom.”
The business continued to carry Levolor’s custom line until 2006 when it became an exclusive retailer of Hunter Douglas window coverings.
Kernan said her family chose Hunter Douglas because of its innovative products and business integrity. As a retailer SmartLooks is able to offer a limited lifetime warranty with all purchases.
Over 100 displays of blinds, shades and shutters adorn the SmartLooks showroom along with several walls’ worth of fabric swatches for custom drapery, furniture and bed ensembles. Clients are welcome to stop by with their window dimensions for a free consultation or bring in inspiration from design magazines, which Kernan said the business can usually replicate at an affordable rate.
Today the store is run primarily by Kernan and her daughter, Tori, who can provide a level of service unmatched by big-box competitors, such as Lowe’s and The Home Depot, Kernan said.
“You don’t get more personal than dealing directly with three generations of family,” she said.