A wave of panic hit some longtime Dean’s Designs customers this week when they noticed some changes to the store at Happiness Plaza.
However, unlike a lot of longtime Wichita businesses, this 60-year-old shop is not closing.
“We’re just relocating our floral operation into one of our smaller spaces in our shopping center,” says Brad White, who owns the business and the shopping center.
White’s parents, Dean and Joyce, started the business as a floral shop and then gradually grew into selling other things.
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“We migrated into complete interior design then furnishing to accommodate that, then draperies and carpet and lamps and artwork – everything,” White says.
Now, though, he’s dropping the accessories and furniture.
“We’re not going to carry all the decorative accessories that we have for years and years.”
White says Internet sales are too much competition.
“It’s just not the same,” he says. “To sell things from your storefront, that used to be the only way you could do it.”
Through the years, Dean’s would have live models in its windows and moving trains and other displays to attract shoppers.
“It’s unfortunate,” he says. “I understand things change and go that direction, but that was a real art of decorating.”
Tastes have changed, too, White says.
“It’s difficult for me to say, but people don’t understand quality like they used to, especially in furnishings,” he says.
White says a lot of customers want something they can walk in and buy, take home and then get rid of five years later.
“That’s not what we prefer to sell,” he says. “We prefer to sell heirloom things that you pass on to family members.”
The floral design area, which customers don’t see, will remain in 4,500 square feet at the center.
Previously, the shop had a 6,500-square-foot showroom.
Then it moved within the same building but three doors south in 1,800 square feet on the east side of the center for floral and gift sales only.
“It’s been a slow move,” White says.
“We certainly still have things for sale, and lots of them.”
They won’t go anywhere until they sell, White says.
“We don’t want to move them either.”
In a time of so many changes, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed at Dean’s, and that’s that Dean White still comes back to visit with customers at the shop.
“He frequently comes back,” his son says, “and we enjoy his company.”