Shop Talk Blog

Former Marine receives $35K discount to open Charlotte-area drapery franchise

Budget Blinds
Budget Blinds

Kevin Paulson spent the first 3 1/2 years of his career in the Marines repairing military vehicles and weapons.

Now, as the owner of his own Budget Blinds franchise, he’s selling, installing and repairing window shutters, shades and drapery.

Paulson, 24, said he spent about $39,000 to become owner of the newly opened Budget Blinds of South Charlotte after participating in a Million Dollar Franchise Event. The program, sponsored by Budget Blinds’ parent company Home Franchise Concepts, aimed to encourage business ownership among military personnel by awarding $1 million in discounts to 34 veterans starting their own Budget Blinds or Tailored Living franchises, according to a news release.

Budget Blinds is a national franchise that launched in 1992 and sells window coverings and home decor accessories ranging from blinds and shades to window screens and decorative window films.

Paulson, who left the military last year, received a $35,000 discount on franchise fees that typically cost about $75,000. He’s one of three veterans to open a franchise in North Carolina, the other two being in Raleigh and Forsyth County.

Owning his own business had been a dream of Paulson’s for years, he said. His parents have run two Budget Blinds franchises in the Charlotte area for 12 years, so he always figured he’d inherit their business when they were ready to retire.

“I never really thought that I was going to buy my own franchise,” he said. But “I’m very blessed to be able to do that.”

After receiving the military discount, he scoped out different banks before finding one willing to give him a business loan, he said. He launched Budget Blinds in March with a warehouse that stores the company’s products.

“We’re not a retail store,” he said. “We bring stuff to the home and actually show (customers) in their personal space how the products will look.”

Paulson, who works with his brother, parents and two drapery installers, said running his own company has taught him the value of customer service and the importance of scheduling. And he’s picked up a variety of technical skills that don’t involve fixing guns or tanks.

“I know pretty much everything about blinds,” he said. “I can repair anything on blinds, or any draperies or shades. I know how to install window tint.”

He’s still learning the art of sales but said he’s hoping to earn $1 million in sales each year.

He wants to grow the company’s commercial business by reaching out to office buildings, restaurants, “anything really,” he said. His target customers: “Anything that has a window.”