There’s something about staring longingly out your window while tucked safely away inside during a pandemic that makes you notice that your drapes are looking a little dingy, or your shutters feel a little outdated, or the light coming in is really harsher than you originally thought.
That might explain why the phones at the Budget Blinds office of Wesley Chapel’s Mike and Adriane Wonderlin rarely stopped ringing this past year.
“To be honest, business has never been better,” says Adriane. “People are in their homes, looking out their windows and getting sick of looking at the same thing all the time.”
But, that’s not the only reason, Adriane adds. New homes are flying off the shelves, too, and many new owners are eager to put their own touch on their new residences.
“There’s a lot of new construction going on, and they don’t want the builder’s blinds,” Adriane says. “They want something they had a choice in (to make) their homes more beautiful.”
The growth has led Adriane and Mike to expand. After working for Budget Blinds for nearly 10 years, the Lexington Oaks residents are now the owners of the Budget Blinds franchises in Greater Tampa, Brandon and Lakeland. Adriane says their territory, which stretches all the way north to San Antonio and south to Palmetto and includes showrooms on W. Fletcher Ave. (near I-275, two exits south of Wesley Chapel’s S.R. 56 exit) and in Riverview, covers nearly 90 zip codes.
The brisk business has not only led to having to hire more employees (they now have 30), but Budget Blinds has outgrown its Riverview showroom, which is being expanded. The showrooms are still closed to walk-in traffic, as Budget Blinds continues to take Covid precautions and a no-contact approach, with design consultants still wearing gloves, masks and booties when visiting their customers’ homes.
And, this summer, the Wonderlins will expand to Wesley Chapel.
Budget Blinds was one of the first businesses to sign a lease for a spot in the upcoming KRATE container park at The Grove. After a number of delays, they hope to be open sometime in June or July.
The container set-up will feature living spaces that show off the offerings at Budget Blinds (something similar to IKEA’s set-ups). There will be samples on hand and design consultants to assist in making your choices.
“It will be like a mini-showroom,” Adriane says.
The new showroom also will utilize television monitors and iPads to help bring your ideas into focus. It’s part of a move to a more digital approach, the Wonderlins say.
And, speaking of digital approaches, their Budget Blinds franchise also is beefing up its social media standing with a renewed focus on Instagram — @budgetblindsgreatertampa — where it is polling customers to determine what they like and teaming up with online influencers to bring the possibilities offered by Budget Blinds to life.
There is a variety of styles to choose from no matter what you are looking for — from best-selling brands like Signature Series, Enlightened Styles and Norman Shutters.
Blinds come in vinyl, wood, fabric, faux wood and aluminum. Shutter options range from real wood (in painted or stained) and also composite shutters that will not fade or warp.
If you prefer shades, you can choose from roller, pleated, Roman, cellular, woven wood, bamboo, sheer, solar and graphic, not to mention a variety of panels, valances and drapes.
Adriane says the most popular choices are plantation shutters, which is a huge part of Budget Blinds’ business, and treatments like Roman and roller shades remain a top seller. Adriane says after years of more simple and hard-lined window treatments, soft treatments also are growing again in popularity.
Features that continue to grow in popularity are motorization and automation.
Budget Blinds has a private label called Smart Home Collection by Budget Blinds, and it can be used with a variety of vendors.
“If you found a certain fabric with one vendor, but for another room you want a different vendor, that system will work with both,” Mike says. “It’s a single platform that goes across multiple brands.”
Motorization is more pushing a button on a remote control or keypad, while automation is typically using an app on a phone to set times for the drapes or blinds to open and close. Scheduled correctly, you can be awakened in the morning by natural sunlight as your blackout shades gradually rise, or change the ambiance of your whole home after the sun has set, all with the press of a button or a voice command.
Both eliminate the need for unsightly (and sometimes dangerous) cords.
“It’s great for windows behind couches, especially if you have a conservation view,” Mike says. “People love not having to go (manually) raise the blinds on eight windows every morning. I even had a customer a few months ago (whose) teenage sons wouldn’t wake up, so they set the timers on their blinds for 7 a.m.”
The technology gets better every year, Mike says, and sales of motorization/automation products are up 25 percent over the past three years.
About The Company
Budget Blinds was founded in 1992 in Orange County, CA, and has more than 1,000 franchises in the U.S. and Canada. The Wonderlins’ franchise, which they purchased in 2018, was recently awarded Budget Blinds’ national Franchise of the Year for 2020, the franchise’s third such honor since 2016.
The Wonderlins have a staff of 30 consultants, including installation manager Bill Tumelty, a U.S. Army veteran, and administrative manager Kristi Cicollelo.
Tumelty is one of a few military veterans working for the Wonderlins, who partner with Homes For Our Troops by providing and installing the window treatments in the homes of wounded veterans for free.
Whether you’re looking for improved aesthetics or smarter energy consumption — or, like many customers, a little bit of both — Budget Blinds can steer you in the right direction. And this summer, your journey to more elegant and convenient window treatments can start right in the new local mini-showroom at KRATE.
“We’re excited about it,” Adriane says. “Anything you put in Wesley Chapel right now takes off. And, we’re local — it’s literally right in our backyard.”
The main Budget Blinds of Greater Tampa showroom is located at 1208 W. Fletcher Ave. The showroom hours are Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. To schedule a complimentary in-home consultation, call (813) 968-5050. For more info, visit BudgetBlinds.com/NorthTampa or see the ad on page 24.