Budget Blinds of the Lowcountry: Celebrating a new showroom, new lines, and child safety
Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: Photography by Anne
Window coverings date back to ancient Egypt when pharaohs and queens hid from the scorching desert sun, while lounging in the shade of luffing sheets of hand-woven linen and cotton. However, it wasn’t until London inventor Edward Bevan patented the first venetian blind in 1769 that window treatments became commerce, and homeowners and businesses were able to control ventilation, light, temperature, and privacy. Bevan and the venetian blind were pioneers in an industry where innovation and creativity have inspired a bevy of ever-evolving modern choices…honeycomb blinds, vertical blinds, horizontal blinds, roman shades, roller shades, solar shades, pleated shades, shutters and even motorized blinds.
Meeting the window covering needs of area residents and businesses for nearly 10 years, Bob and Kate Engler, owners of Budget Blinds of the Lowcountry, are exceeding expectations with their newly expanded Bluffton-based showroom, opened in June of 2015, fully-outfitted consultation, installation, and service vans, a wide selection of window covering options and beyond, an entrepreneurial spirit, a long list of satisfied customers, and franchise partners who provide nearly limitless customized window treatment options.
“We often help people who are looking for a ‘have their cake and eat it too’ option,” Bob Engler said. “They want to control light and still be able to see through it; or they want to make a room look really nice but maybe they want privacy too. We work with every customer to complete their project effectively and efficiently.”
Efficiency runs through the core of their business. “Hiring a professional saves time and money,” Engler said. Whether a consultation begins with a visit to their showroom or an on-site appointment, the Budget Blinds team is prepared to provide quotes for jobs from one window treatment to complex large-scale projects.
“We have two fully outfitted vans with every display you see in the showroom. We bring the computer system that does all the pricing into the field. We do all the measurements and quoting on-site.” Customers are able see their design, materials, and pricing options and make informed decisions about their project as quickly and as carefully as they choose.
A visit to the beautifully lit, comfortable showroom gives customers another hands-on experience with window covering materials and design options including wood blinds, composite blinds, faux-wood PVC blinds, fabric Roman shades, wooden plantation shutters, composite plantation shutters, aluminum blinds, and roller shades. As a bonus: Budget Blinds of the Lowcountry has added Momeni rugs and to their offerings, along with Tableaux® indoor window treatments, made to mimic wrought iron grillwork, for windows that need a little something-something, but do not require light control or privacy.
As for industry trends, mechanization is the latest. “Cordless and motorized are the most popular way that we do the majority of our projects,” Engler said. “Most people are trying to do a clean, streamlined look with no cords hanging down. Shutters are our most popular project line. They’re great for the area, people really like the look, and they have great insulating capabilities. We can motorize anything, including shutters. They are more of an investment up-front, but from a safety standpoint, a convenience standpoint, and an efficiency standpoint, it’s the way things are going.”
A long-time golf professional, Bob recalls the early days after the couple had purchased their Budget Blinds franchise, when the business was based out of Riverwalk Business Park in Okatie. “It was me, one installer, and a part time temp who did the books,” he said. “There were times when my wife would call to check on me when I was still working at 3 am.”
Throughout the years, the Englers have found their franchise parent company to be excellent partners as their business has grown. “They genuinely care about your success. I have great support. I can pick up the phone at any given moment; I know them by name and see them at the annual convention,” Engler said.
With Bob Engler at the helm, and Kate Engler managing the marketing, advertising, and all the behind the scenes work, their local independently owned and operated business has grown to 10 employees, and has become the anchor to their Lowcountry home, where they are enjoying raising their family.
As parents of a two-month-old and a two-year-old when they opened Budget Blinds of the Lowcountry in 2006, the Englers enthusiastically support the efforts of the window covering industry to increase safety through the sale of new product designs, offering retrofitting option for existing window coverings, along with consumer education. Infants, toddlers, and even pets see dangling cords as play things. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least one child dies from window cord strangulation every month, and at least one more child suffers near strangulation during that same time period. First in line to meet or exceed the industry’s most recent 2013 safety standards, Budget Blinds also works closely with all their manufacturing partners to ensure safety standard compliance.
October is National Window Covering Safety Month, and as local window covering safety experts, Budget Blinds of the Lowcountry readily offers some advice on choosing safer window treatments, recommending cordless treatments for homes where small children or pets live or frequently visit. Some cordless options include: shutters, motorized shades, and cordless cellular shades. Existing corded window coverings may be retrofitted with spring assisted clutches, sliding panel track systems, break-away tassels, cord stops, and cord cleats. Another key to keeping everyone safe is to be aware of furniture placement, arranging furniture to eliminate access to window coverings and cords.
“Window coverings are nearly a necessity,” Engler said. Not only can they dress up a room, they have numerous functional properties. Once used to control ventilation during times prior to all the indoor climate control now available, today, personality, privacy, insulation, and light control dominate customer desire. Budget Blinds of the Lowcountry has the styles, materials, colors, creativity, and technical know-how to dramatically, and literally change a customer’s outlook. Edward Bevan and his venetian blind have come a very long way.
Budget Blinds of the Lowcountry is located at 880 Fording Island Road, Unit 8, Bluffton. For more information, call (843)837.4060 or visit budgetblindsofthelowcountry.com.