Calico Corners a family affair

Bonita store exemplifies values of founders

Calico Corners in Bonita Springs is not just an emporium of fabrics and custom made furniture, it's a family tradition.

Jena Miller and her brother Neill Faulman own the Bonita Springs location with their spouses, Mark Miller and Betsy Faulman, all of Sarasota, where they own another store. The two couples purchased the stores from their father, Nick Faulman, in 2003.

In-home consultant Barbara White helps Nancy Multon, of Naples, match fabric for her bedroom.

Photo by LIANE EDIXON, Banner

In-home consultant Barbara White helps Nancy Multon, of Naples, match fabric for her bedroom.

Before Nick Faulman had a stake in the Calico Corners franchises, his mother purchased the first Calico Corners franchise in the 1940s in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., eventually owning stores in Florida and Ohio as well.

"It just stayed in the family," Jena Miller said.

According to Miller, Calico Corners originally started as two men selling overstocked furniture.

Miller is the buyer and merchandiser, while her husband, Mark, is the general manager of both stores. Neill Faulman installs all the window treatments for both stores, and Betsy Faulman is the labor manager.

"We all work in the store. It's a family-run business," Miller said. "We all wear many hats."

There are more than 100 Calico Corners locations in the United States. A few of the east coast locations in Florida once belonged to the Faulman family.

The third-generation owners say the family values haven't changed, but the store itself has evolved.

"We've changed a lot. We used to carry mostly seconds, but now we're more of a design center," Miller said.

Calico Corners offers thousands of fabrics and custom upholstered furniture. It also sells accessories, bedding, hardware, pillows and cushions, slipcovers, trimmings and window treatments and brand new furniture.

"You can pick your fabric and your frame, and it comes to you completed," Miller said.

"It's more hands-on," Betsy Faulman added.

What makes the store unique, the sisters-in-law said, is allowing customers to be a part of every decision when decorating a home, matching curtains, or finding that perfect fabric to coordinate with other pieces of a room.

Although Calico Corners, on Bonita Beach Road, is not a full-fledged design center, because it does not have wall, flooring and lighting treatments, it does have in-home consultants who can meet with customers.

Fabric prices range from $8 to $150 per yard, with some fabric ranging even higher.

"We have a good variety of price points," Miller said.

Barbara White and Debra Seeger are both in-home consultants at Calico Corners. Monday, White helped Naples resident Nancy Multon find fabric that matched her bedroom décor, in order to make a dust ruffle and valance.

Simone Bierme, of Estero, also browsed Calico Corners on Monday. She was in the market for fabric to go with several wrought iron chairs.

Simone Bierme, of Estero, looks for fabric to go with white, wrought iron chairs.

Photo by LIANE EDIXON, Banner

Simone Bierme, of Estero, looks for fabric to go with white, wrought iron chairs.

"They're white, so I'm having such a hard time," Bierme said.

Bierme can often be found handling the fabric at Calico Corners, because before moving to Florida she went to a Calico Corners in San Diego.

"I'm a longtime customer of the house," Bierme said.

According to Miller, repeat customers are the backbone of the store, and they get the repeat customers by having a great staff that recognize the family values incorporated at Calico Corners, including standing behind everything they do.

"It's important to us as a family that it be that way," Jena Miller said.

The Bonita Springs store has 12 employees, but the Millers and the Faulmans visit the store weekly. Miller said many employees who work for Calico Corners stores have longevity with the company. One employee, who worked in her Sarasota store, recently retired after 50 years. He worked for Miller, her father, and her grandmother.

"It's a long term company," Miller said.

Calico Corners is located at 9128 Bonita Beach Road. For more information, call (239) 992-4446, or visit the store during business hours Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

© 2006 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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