Franchesca Zoppe took over ownership of Country Furnishingsof Taos on July 1, 2016. She has changed the name to CFT Décor& Gifts and, since then, has put her personal imprint onto a store that been around since 1986. Enchanted Homes recently sat down with her to ask her about her first year in business.
How’s your first year been?
Very good. It’s a challenging retail climate for all Taos stores, but the second quarter traditionally provides an uptick in sales with all the summer events and the arrival of part-time residents..
What do you think you’ve brought to the store?
Primarily, I want to bring more color to the homes in Taos. Outside, it’s a desert climate with muted colors. So we carry items like pillows and furnishing with strong, bright, sparkly stuff that make the inside of a home colorful. I changed the name, too, so that people wouldn’t think we are a furniture store. We’re not, and I wanted them to know we sell décor and gifts, too.
How would you describe the character of CFT?
Eclectic with a whimsy to it. The breadth of products is from juried local artists to manufactured napkins – and everything in between. We carry a broad spectrum of merchandise so that we can be a one-stop shop for the homeowner and the gift buyer.
Who are your customers?
Mostly 40 or older, a lot of part-timers in Taos who are here from June through the end of the year. It’s people who want to decorate their homes, but are looking for something a little different.
You’ve talked about providing a “customer experience.” Explain that a bit.
Sure. We want our customers to feel comfortable just browsing. We have so much in the store that it takes a while to see it all. Our staff is friendly without any hard sell. We are there to answer questions and help out finding something. We like
to chat with our returning customers to find out what they liked, show them what’s new and listen to their opinions. Also, we know our products so that we can help mix and match for a certain design.
Where do you find all these products?
Thanks to the previous owner, we have a strong relationship with local artisans, who provide much of what we have. We are continually adding artisans and artists who have a different look or type of art. Our emphasis is still in the Southwest genre, and we carefully select our distributors outside of Taos, too.
Any new sales strategies?
Yes, we started [a] gift registry, something that stores like us don’t do. A wedding party can register with us and indicate what they would like to receive. They can even post a video of pertinent gifts. Guests can view those items through our website or with a click-through on our Taos News digital ad. It links the giver
and the recipient.
This is your first foray into retail. What have you learned?
I was in sales and marketing in the high-tech world out in San Jose, California, and I found that high-tech sales is similar to retail.
It’s important to focus on your merchandise, to know your customer base, to listen to and understand the “voice of the customers” and to know what they are looking for.
What’s your objective with CFT Décor & Gifts in the future?
I bought the store for its ambience, and I won’t change that. I just want to keep trying out new items, adding to the breadth of our product lines. I have a great staff that stayed with me after Mary Shriver sold the business to me. They understand the store and its customers – and help me move into the future with purpose and confidence.