CFT Décor and Gifts (formerly Country Furnishings of Taos) has been a town fixture since Mary Shriver opened it in 1986. Last July Franchesca Zoppe bought it from her.
Story and picture originally published in Taos News
A circus performer, Vietnam-era Navy veteran, registered nurse, and former Silicon Valley executive, Zoppe has reinvented herself as an entrepreneur.
“I wanted to make a change of life after I moved from San Jose, California, to Angel Fire,” she said. “Then I fell in love with the store’s concept and ambiance. I will make sure that its essence won’t change.”
CFT Décor and Gifts offers an eclectic array of merchandise.
“They will tickle your funny bone and give a color punch or an artistic focal point to your décor,” Zoppe said.
Among the items for sale are detailed tin crosses and fishes by local artist Hanko, retablos by Lynn Garlick, and handcrafted tables, crosses and headboards by Holly Burger.
Larry McEntire’s whimsical critters, with textured surfaces and bright colors, are made from scraps of a home improvement project and coated with polyurethane.
“Then we have Susan Eichner’s hand-painted art and Cristine Boyd and Abby Salsbury’s ceramic art, which will brighten any home,” Zoppe said. “But there is so much here that it’s difficult to describe. Better come and see it yourself!”
The joys of entrepreneurship
Zoppe says she gets many satisfactions from her new business. Personal interaction with her clients is among the main ones.
“I truly enjoy meeting and chatting with customers, local artists and vendors to continue the store’s legacy and improve upon it,” she said.
Searching for new merchandise that fits the eclectic ambiance of the store is another fun task, said the owner.
She comes to work with her dog Zeva, a ten-year-old black Russian terrier.
“Zeva is my mascot, friend, navigator and store greeter when I am here,” she said.
The all-important marketing plan
As a new owner, Zoppe considers it imperative to understand what brings people to the store and what will continue to bring them back.
“My main objective is to generate new ideas that broaden the store’s appeal,” she said.
With that in mind, Zoppe has built a marketing plan that she considers “very effective.”
“I measure it to ensure that what I put into place reaches existing and potential new customers,” she said. “Currently I have an advertisement every other week in the Tempo on the Travel page, and Taos News online every other week. Plus I have an ad in Discover Taos Winter Guide, the Wedding Guide, and the Taos Women circular and the Taos Gallery guide soon to come out.”
Besides the marketing campaign, she is revamping the website to incorporate online purchasing.
“My goal is to reach outside the Taos border,” she said. “The challenge I see is effectively managing this concept and keeping the site fresh.”
The wedding and gift registry
Among the most recent additions to the store is a wedding and gift registry service.
“I believe that we are the only store in Taos that has it,” Zoppe said. “We want to offer the couple’s friends and family gift ideas that will be treasured. Nobody likes to get three coffeemakers and two toasters! We have everything from beautifully decorated wedding flutes to aromatic candles and picture frames, in a wide range of prices.”
Group gifting is an option.
“If two or three friends decide to give the bride, say, one of our Tiffany lamps, they can get in on together to make it more affordable for all,” she said.
The Tiffany lamps are new items as well.
“They are not the froufrou type,” Zoppe said. “The ones I chose have rustic colors that are perfect for Taos.”
She has also implemented post-event discounts.
“After a wedding, birthday, or another event for which people buy their gifts here, the wedding couple or birthday person will get 10% discount for three months,” she said.
The new name
Zoppe makes a point of listening to the voice of her clients. Customers’ comments, in fact, led her to change the store’s name, Taos Country Furnishing, to CFR Décor and Gifts
“Folks were telling me that they were pleasantly surprised with the store’s merchandise breadth,” she said. “First timers to the store had no idea what we carried and thought we were only a furniture store. I also received feedback from repeat customers that our store name didn’t represent the merchandise we offered.”
But many other things have not changed, nor will they.
“The store’s fantastic eclectic ambiance, supporting local artists and the friendly helpful customer service are the corner stone to our success and will remain like that,” Zoppe said.
In August, Zoppe will celebrate the store’s 31 anniversary party with a variety of promotions and surprises.
“We will have the Wheel of Fortune, where customers spin to get $5-$40 off their purchase,” she said. “The Taos News readers who mention the store’s advertisement or an article written about it will get 10% off their purchase. And watch our Tempo ad for periodic sales and new items.”
CFT Décor and Gifts is located at 534 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos, New Mexico
Phone: (575) 758-4633