Monday, April 21, 2008

Three Local Students Open Used Furniture Store


Any college students who think that school alone takes over their lives had better not complain to the three proprietors of Riviera Furniture, a new furniture store that opened last month in downtown Santa Barbara.
Through teamwork and determination, these full time students find time to advance in their degrees and run their own store in order to put themselves through school.

Josh Allen, David Noel, and Ian Hogen began selling used furniture in October 2007, but when they saw how fast people bought their wares, they decided to make the business a semi-permanent endeavor.
“Time management is definitely the hardest thing,” said David, 20, a Business Economics major at SBCC. “It doesn’t leave much of a life outside. It’s a 24-hour job. Because, even when we’re not in the store, we split up the tasks. Not one of us has missed a class because of [the store].”
Though they all agree that they have no free time, they also point out that there are benefits to having two full-time commitments.
“Going home at the end of the day and passing out at 11 o clock has never felt better,” said Josh, 21 , who studies sociology at UCSB.
“I’m at school, sitting in class, and I’m going, ‘I can’t wait to go to work’,” added Ian, 22, a SBCC student of Hydraulics. “I feel like I’m more productive now. Before, I would go to school and relax a lot. Now, I’m always doing something – and I like that.”
The goal of Riviera furniture, the guys said, is to offer a low-cost alternative to the big stores in town. Originally, they wanted to market their $150 dressers to college students, but since their relocation from Goleta to Santa Barbara, they have decided to shift to a more general focus.
“We talked about it before: you just can’t get affordable furniture in Santa Barbara. You just can’t,” said David.
They have had their share of logistical difficulties, such as when they had to relocate their store because of a higher-priced competitor. One of the worst days, they said, was when they were moving all the furniture in their truck to the new location and a large, wooden cabinet fell out in the middle of an intersection.
Advancements have come slowly. The guys said that they became more excited every time they added a new gadget to the store, such as a land-line phone or a credit card machine.
“All those little things added up,” said Josh. “The best day was when it started to look like a real store.”
The main thing it takes to make the pains of the process worthwhile, they agreed, is for a customer to walk into the store and check out the product.
In addition, they love to watch the reactions of their friends when they deliver the news that they own a full-time store.
“Their shocked,” said Ian.
“A lot of our close friends were like, ‘Are you serious?’” concurred David. “It makes girls more interested, though. Most kids are going surfing or sitting on the couch or drinking. And we’re actually coming out here and making a life for ourselves.”
“The people who were skeptics in the beginning are now like, ‘Can you get me a desk? Can you get me a bed?” mimed Josh.
“Or they’ll ask us for jobs, now,” added David. “They want to jump on board.”
By running the store, all three of these entrepreneurs learn what it takes to be businesspeople in the real world. They appreciate the way that the process of running the store has a way of complementing and supplementing what they learn from their academic pursuits.
David, the Bus-Econ major, said that his college training only goes so far, and that it trains people to climb corporate ladders rather than to found their own businesses.
“If we just get out there and do it ourselves,” he added, “we’ll learn a lot more.”
But for the guys at Riviera Furniture, it is not all about accumulating knowledge and cah for college. Rather, it is the feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment that gets them through each stressful day.

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