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MULTI-STORE CATEGORY Patios Plus Rancho Mirage, California

Patios PlusJim Schultz with his sister, Kristine Schultz Hutchinson, own Patios Plus.
WINNER OF the Apollo Award in the multiple store category two of the last three years, Patios Plus maintains its standard of excellence in what has been a very tough year.
     Off by about 8% this season, the retailer made major cuts to drastically reduce its budget, including further staff cuts.

     The challenges were not unexpected.
     "We are in a resort area where homes are $500,000 to $3 million, and housing is dead," said Jim Schultz, who owns the business with his sister, Kristine Schultz Hutchinson. "Those are our bread-andbutter customers."
     Still, a customer walking in the door at either of the Patios Plus locations would never know that business is slow. The showrooms are beautiful, the product the expected high quality and the service great. Patios Plus won Casual Living's 2010 Merchandising Award for Best Use of Accessories in the multiple store category and Best Store Front in 2008.
     Patios Plus opened in 1978. It operates a 10,000-sq.-ft. showroom in Rancho Mirage and a 6,000-sq.-ft. showroom in La Quinto.

Patio PlusThe look of Patio Plus reflects Southwestern style and Kristine’s design expertise.
     In light of the challenging economy, Schultz and Hutchinson have started aggressively targeting small- to mid-size commercial projects, such as some of the hotels in the Palm Springs area built in the 1950s.
     "We've been calling on them and doing some business," Schultz said. "It hasn't really affected our bottom line much this year, but we are hoping that it will by next year."
     They also do a good business with interior designers, a market that picks up in late summer. Many people who have second homes in the area have their designers redo their homes before they return for the winter.
     Looking forward, Schultz has the November elections on his mind. He's hoping for indicators that will prompt his customer base to be more willing to spend.

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