Bright spot on the horizon for carpet store with vision
After nearly two years in the making, Bob’s Discount Carpet recently opened its new store at Idaho-Maryland and Sutton Way.
The tough economy and unexpected difficulties during the building forced the owners to postpone the expected opening in January. But the busy location, energy efficiency and demand for hardwood flooring offer the company a bright spot on the horizon.
The “Bob” in Bob’s Discount Carpet is Bob Pinkham, the company owner.
He bought the lot more than 20 years ago.
“We didn’t have time or money, so we decided to wait,” said his son and company president, Kurt Pinkham. “That wasn’t the smartest thing to do, as it costs much more in the long run.”
Before establishing his own company, Bob Pinkham installed carpet in Santa Clara. He started his carpet and laminates business in Grass Valley in May 1977.
With oil prices affecting transportation costs, the Pinkhams are having a tough time controlling costs.
In addition, production costs more, since most quality carpet has an oil base.
“We’re getting increases every two months. It’s crazy,” Kurt Pinkham said.
Hardwoods and laminates aren’t affected by oil prices and, as a result, cost less and are selling relatively well, Pinkham added.
Despite the challenges, Pinkham remains optimistic, mostly because his overhead is under control. He owns the building and doesn’t have to pay rent. All his employees are subcontractors.
His key to success is energy efficiency, Pinkham said. Working with Pacific Gas and Electric Co., he plans to install solar panels, which he hopes eventually will power the entire building.
“We’re trying to stay as green as possible and save money at the same time,” Pinkham said.
Carpets are being recycled, and materials are becoming more environmentally-friendly, he said.
The Pinkhams have a few large vendors, and some of the products are imported. Countries with low production costs offer competitive prices, but a lot of the store’s items still are made in the United States.
“Even though we’re forced to raise our prices, people really want American stuff,” Pinkham said.
The housing slump is not making things easier, with demand for carpet falling.
“They say it hasn’t reached the bottom yet, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see,” he said.
The carpet store used to be located on Joerschke Drive.
“Although we were in downtown Grass Valley, the place was off the beat,” Pinkham said. “We have more customers in a day than we had in one month at the old place.” The costs of renting forced them to either move or close their business.
Kurt and Bob Pinkham started to go through the city-planning process about six years ago. When they started, they discovered problems with the impaction.
“This was a tough lot to build on,” Kurt Pinkham said. “The impaction problems made a huge additional cost.”
They were one of the first to buy when the business sub-division along Golden Gate Terrace was set up. That turned out to be a good move.
“We bought the lot for about $60,000, and now it’s probably worth $300,000,” a pleased Kurt Pinkham said.
The walls are decorated with artwork by Maxine Terry, who used to work in the store and had a passion for art. Kurt Pinkham has collected her artwork through the years, and decided to adorn the new building with it.
The store opened in June, but they are planning a grand opening in three weeks to include a store-wide sale and barbecue.
Alexander Wiesner Barg is a Norwegian high school student conducting an internship at The Union. To leave him a message, call 477-4230.
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