County Seat celebrates 40th anniversary
County Seat Decorating Center in Marion has a different focus from when Jeannie and Brad Wildin bought the business as 22 year-olds.
When the couple purchased it from Walt Oelschlager in 1978, the business was centered around furniture, with limited flooring options.
“To keep a lot of money tied up on the show room floor and in inventory was just crazy,” Jeannie said. “We decided to get out of furniture and focus on floor covering. That has just grown and grown.”
The options used to be mainly carpeting with a few options for linoleum.
“I think a lot of it comes from HGTV,” Jeannie said. “The first thing the designers say is, ‘Oh, we have to rip the carpet out.’”
The current trend is toward luxury vinyl and hardwood.
“Younger people realize that when you have a hard surface, you can keep it cleaner,” she said. “It’s practical. If you have kids who spill, you can wipe it up a lot easier if it’s on carpet.”
Despite being an hour from the nearest Home Depot or Lowe’s, the Wildins consider them prime competitors.
To celebrate the success and longevity of the business, the Wildins are holding an open house Friday.
“We have a lot of really loyal customers,” she said. “That’s why we’re still in business after 40 years, because we developed relationships with our customers.”
The business has expanded over the years to include wall siding and kitchen and bathroom redesigns.
A majority of their work comes from within the county, which is most convenient.
“For the last two years, 95 percent of the sales have been in Marion County,” Jeannie said. “That makes it a lot easier for us to focus right here at home.”
Other customers come from hours away. When the Wildins received more commercial work, they would travel as far as Ashland and southwestern Kansas.
Now, the Wildins often use Fridays to load up on supplies in Wichita.
“After we’re done doing that, we’ll go out to eat, maybe take in a movie,” Brad said. “Do we find time? We make time.”
The couple doesn’t employ full-time help for installations, but they do have a desk attendant.
External help is used for carpeting, but Brad does all other installing. When it’s too much for him to do alone, Jeannie often pitches in.
“For big jobs he needs help with, I’m on my hands and knees too,” Jeannie said. “I did a lot of installations with him over at Grace Community Church.”
Last modified Oct. 25, 2018