by Unique Saunders
A Kirkland store owner refuses to let the economy affect his business. In fact, “A” is donating ten percent of his profits this holiday season to a local organization, while another five percent will go back to his customers.
The owner of Simplicity Decor prefers “A” to his birth name, Suraphong. “It’s kind of a conversation starter,” he explains. Most people in Thailand have nicknames. His mother dubbed him A, while his brothers are B and C.
Simplicity Décor is in the midst of its third Annual Giving Project. Each holiday season A chooses one organization to support. In his first year of business, he focused on the Kirkland Teen Union Building, an organization geared toward empowering youth. Last year, Simplicity Décor donated $5,000 to a Bangkok orphanage in A’s native Thailand. This year, he sought out a local organization, deciding on the Redmond-based Hopelink, a nonprofit organization that helps homeless and low-income families, as well as people with disabilities. Its several programs include food banks, educational services and housing assistance. More than 90 percent of the money they receive goes back to families in need.
From now until December 24, A will be setting aside a portion of his proceeds for this cause. While the economy has brought sales down a bit, the holiday season is livening things up. Known for its affordable and unique merchandise, A’s store offers something for everyone. From the new shipment of sock monkeys to oil paintings that hang over the mantle, children and adults alike are in awe when they walk into Simplicity Décor. Customers can find knickknacks for as little as a quarter and furniture for as much as $2,000.
A believes this is the reason he has such a diverse clientele. Loyal customers come from Bellevue, Lynnwood and Issaquah because they know Simplicity Décor offers high-quality items that cannot be found elsewhere.
“I think people are excited about the holidays,” says A. “A lot of people come in with a Christmas list.”
Recognizing that times are hard, A wants to make things easier on his customers, so he is offering five percent off all purchases until the end of the giving campaign. The extra savings may go a long way for some families.
Simplicity Décor opened in February of 2006 when, with the help of a friend in Thailand, A filled a 40-foot container to ship to the United States. His vision was to come to America to start a business combining his passions: shopping, decorating and helping others. After talking to vendors and picking out fabrics, he turned his vision into reality.
Located on the same block as the popular Cactus Restaurant, A says he gets a lot of traffic. “It’s like a small town feel,” he explains, referring to the beach and library that is in close proximity. People are often drawn to the front window, which is currently themed “Under the Sea”. With Christmas trees in the front of the store, the setup feels like someone’s living room – warm and homey.
While A is pleased that his dream of starting his own business came true, he doesn’t plan on stopping here. “I’m not just here to sell and make a profit,” he explains, “but, to help others learn.”
His mother instilled in him the value of helping others early on in his life, so for this reason he doesn’t wait for the holidays to reach out to the community. This past spring, A hosted the Simplicity Home Series, a set of free classes geared toward educating people on how to decorate their homes. He brought in some of his friends to teach classes on how to pick colors, create flower arrangements and organize the home. More recently, he offered the Simplicity Holiday Series, with classes on decorating tips for the holidays.
The future looks very bright for Simplicity Décor. A wants to eventually open another location and is looking at expanding his Kirkland store. A also hopes to address tourists’ concerns about purchase items that are too large to pack in a suitcase, so he is planning to add a shopping cart feature to his Simplicity Décor’s website. He hopes to have this feature available before the spring.