By Gianna Volpe
When Irving Beller first built the home furnishing center on County Road 39, the local king of carpeting hadn’t realized how truly he’d just enabled his family’s next generation to “sell smarter” as Linda and Paul Nuszen have been doing for more than 30 years at Tuckahoe’s Windows and Walls Unlimited. “[Irving] wanted us to go to the North Fork and go into the bagel making business,” Paul Nuszen recalled of the possible life path he and his then-newlywed wife ultimately passed up in favor of marketing window treatments to highway traffic on the South Fork.
“The bank asked me, ‘What do you think you’ll make your first year of business’ and I said, ‘$300,000′ the first year of business,’ because my father-in-law was making $80,000 a year [in that industry] without even trying,” said Mr. Nuszen. “We made $310,000.”
Mr. Beller co-signed the $50,000 bank loan that helped the newlyweds begin living their American Dream in 1985. Not only did they grow their business, but a family as well. In fact, Mr. Nuszen said the couple’s children—Adam, Amy and Jonathan—proved to be the business’s biggest selling tools and that customers often came to visit their babies at the showroom’s playpen.
“Our first commercial was cut by our oldest, Adam,” Ms. Nuszen warmly recalled of how her first-born son—who died last year—had been helping invite sunshine into the lives of long-time and potential customers alike from the very beginning. “We went to WLNG. He sat on my lap and did, “You Are My Sunshine,” in one take.”
Though Adam has since passed away and the Windows and Walls showroom has shrunk down to 600 square feet, Ms. Nuszen said business is continuing to thrive in a post-recession economy.
“Our business is based on truth and our integrity is what makes us 31 years successful,” she said. “Our mentality is if we wouldn’t put it into our own home, we’re not going to tell you to do it to yours; it’s just that plain and simple.”
Though Ms. Nuszen is the stitch in the shop’s seams, she considers her husband and business partner, Paul, to be an absolute ace in the hole. She said his critical thinking skills—as well as creative fascination with the industry’s cutting edge —is helping keep Windows and Walls a relevant and preferred local brand.
“We have a high rate of repeat customers and what they say is that their experience with us is different because they’re not being sold to,” she said. “We’re the real deal. We try the best to do right and we’re not motivated to sell you this when all you need is that. We’ll get you next time.”
The decision to ditch square footage and transfer overhead to an expanding Jennifer Convertibles was one Ms. Nuszen said was about “working smart” to maintain the company’s image through a recession. “After the economy tanked in the late 90s, we had to make a choice because things were really rocky,” she explained. “We thought at the time we could do [business] out of a car, do it out of a truck, do it out of the house—other people are—then one friend said to find a way to keep the store because it’s so important [for the company’s image.]”
That may mean less swatches to see at the physical shop, but the Nuszen’s say far less is physically needed to make a sale since the advent of a digital world.
“I remember a fabric rep came in and I said I needed to reduce the amount of samples we have and he said, ‘No No No,” but I said, ‘Trust me. Let’s just pick the ones we do the most of’ and then it was perfect,” said Ms. Nuszen. “We’ve not only stayed the same, but now we’re even better.”
If you’re seeking to update the blinds in your beach house windows, what Paul and Linda have for sale could be right up your alley. Neutral colors have always been a forte for Windows and Walls Unlimited and right now, they say Roman shades—Cordless to keep children safe from the choking hazard—are all the rage.
Windows and Walls Unlimited is located at 375 County Road 39 in Southampton. For more information, call (631) 287-1515 or visit wwunlimited.com.