Finishing Touch celebrates 30 years
Linda Pettit’s Finishing Touch store will be celebrating 30 years in business with an open house from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at the store on the east side of the Fairfield square.
Pettit reminisced she purchased the decorating business from Del Reice Van Winkle, opening for her first day of business on Feb. 23, 1984, in a carriage house at 105 S. Second St. Then, the business moved to its present location opening on July 5, 1984.
During the last 30 years, the store’s focus has continued to be on Hunter Douglas window treatments and Benjamin Moore paints, but Pettit has seen quite a few changes.
A big change, said Pettit, is the store’s new paint display system and its Gennex auto waterborne colorant system.
The computer-operated system mixes paints to get the perfect hue with just the push of a button, compared to doing the job by hand in the past, said Pettit.
Today’s paint, she continued, has no volatile organic compounds. VOCs are toxic, so using paint with no VOCs helps create a greener life for the client and their family.
Another change in paints is they now have a 95 to 5 mix of latex to oil compared to a 70 to 30 latex to oil mix in the past, added Pettit.
Pettit has seen a “huge change” in wallpaper since she bought Finishing Touch in the 1980s when wallpaper, mostly in pastel hues, with small prints like geese and ducks, was a popular decorating style.
“We had a huge, massive wallpaper library,” recalled Pettit. “Eighty percent of our business was wallpaper. Now, it’s not in vogue. … We still have wallpaper available; mostly huge prints for large houses, but we don’t sell a lot.”
Borders for children’s rooms are the store’s biggest selling type of wallpaper, she continued.
“It’s easy,” said Pettit, explaining a baby’s room can have a cute boarder, but when the baby turns 3- or 4-years-old and becomes a fire truck fan, that boarder can be replaced easily with one featuring fire trucks.
Pettit gave her own store a general makeover in the late summer of 2007.
The store was redesigned, a wall was torn out, the paint department was re-done and more. The giftware department was eliminated, and Pettit began focusing even more on decorating by adding flooring: tile, wood and carpet.
“It’s amazing after seven years the number of people who come in and say ‘I didn’t know you had flooring,’” said Pettit.
According to Pettit, about 80 percent of her work is for residences while about 20 percent is for commercial properties, and her work stretches from Fairfield down to Lake of the Ozarks where some customers have their second homes and up to Des Moines — “We have very good customers in Des Moines.”
“We sell quality, so when we sell to a customer, it lasts 15, 20 years, and, it could be a long time before we see them again,” said Pettit. “But we’ve worked one-on-one for six weeks, 12 months, or however long the project took, and become friends. When its done, and they throw their arms around me and say ‘I love it! I love it!’ and it’s the best feeling in the world.”
The long-lasting quality products mean Finishing Touch is always looking for new clients. Pettit has found the store is now doing projects for the children of their original customers.
“They come and say ‘Mom said to call you because you did our living room in 1987,’” said Pettit. “That is very gratifying for me.”
Pettit recalled the scariest thing to have happened in the last 30 years is the fire in the building next door in January 2004.
“It was very scary to get a call at 4 in the morning saying your building was on fire,” she said.
Because the Finishing Touch building was not as tall as the burning building, a great deal of the 1 million gallons of water the Fairfield Fire Department used flowed onto the Finishing Touch.
“We had water damage. We closed about a week to clean up the mess, got it squared away and we were back in business,” said Pettit.
“We have had a wonderful group of employees over the years,” she continued. “They made our lives easier.”
Her husband Larry joined the staff full time in 2003, after working part time in the past.
The store is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Saturdays are “install days.”
“Today’s woman has a job, but she also wants to be home for the installation, so we do that on Saturdays,” she said.
To celebrate the anniversary, Pettit is hosting an open house from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, with product representatives on hand to answer questions, refreshments, door prizes and a grand prize of a Hunter Douglas Silhouette window shading of the winner’s choice.
“Thirty years … you’ve got to do something special,” said Pettit.