Daily Archives: Jan. 16, 2013

Nathan and Nick Blasi are buying their uncle Les Eck’s Marine World

Nathan (left) and Nick Blasi, who are buying their uncle Les Eck’s Marine World.

WICHITA — In 2010, Marine World owner Les Eck issued a challenge to his nephews Nathan and Nick Blasi, who began running the business for him in late 2008.

“I said, ‘The only way you’ll be a success at running this store is if you treat every dollar … as if you own the place,’” Eck says.

“We took that to heart,” Nathan Blasi says. “From there on, that set the stage.”

Now, the two are going to own the place. Their purchase of the business will be finalized soon.

Eck says he’s selling “because it’s family. Because everybody needs a break in life.”

“They’re very hard workers,” Eck says. “They’ve done a nice job. They’ve complemented each other well.”

Nathan Blasi worked for Eck’s Rusty Eck Ford for five years before moving to Marine World. Nick Blasi played professional baseball. He uses a sports analogy to explain the difference between him and his brother, who used to play football.

“So he played one day a week and got all jacked up,” Nick Blasi says. “I played every day of the week and had to be the same person.”

Nick Blasi is over Marine World’s service department and says he’s good at organization. Nathan Blasi is more outgoing and handles sales and finance.

“We fight just as much as we get along, but I think we’ve always known that we complement each other really well,” Nick Blasi says.

The brothers say they always knew they wanted to own a business together.

“It was just like a dream from when we were little,” Nathan Blasi says. “You need people that you can count on and trust. I know one person I can count on.”

They didn’t immediately know they wanted to own Marine World, which sells new and used boats, three-wheel motorcycles, ATVs, Sea-Doos, skis and life jackets.

“And then we fell in love with the business,” Nathan Blasi says. “There’s something about making people happy … with their toys.”

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Nelson Designs expands into former Norwalk Furniture & Design space

UPDATED — A former Norwalk Furniture & Design neighbor is ready to take its space.

Nelson Designs, which has been in the Shops at Tallgrass since late 2009, is expanding there in March.

“It’s another 2,000 square feet, which we definitely need, and it’s a lot closer to 21st Street so the visibility is going to be great,” owner Sharon Nelson says. “That’s a big part of it.”

Nelson opened her design business in the heart of the economic crisis “when the rest of the world was saying, ‘You are absolutely crazy,’ but I think it’s worked,” she says.

Her first store was 1,400 square feet.

“Of course, we opened it when the economy was horrible, so I wasn’t too sure how it was going to go.”

Within a year, though, she more than doubled her space to 3,158 square feet.

Now, she’s out of room.

For instance, in the area where she sells wood and tile flooring, Nelson says, “It is so jam-packed in there with our fabrics for drapery and upholstery, people don’t know what all we sell.”

The business now has five designers instead of the two that the store started with.

Nelson had been running the business out of her home initially.

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Norwalk Furniture & Design moves to temporary space while seeking new home

WICHITA — Norwalk Furniture & Design is still in business, but you won’t find it at the Shops at Tallgrass at 21st and Rock Road.

In fact, you might not find it at all if you don’t know what you’re looking for. This month, Julia Benson moved her store to temporary space in a warehouse at 8630 E. 32nd Court North.

“It’s a pretty good-looking showroom,” she says of the selling area she’s created.

Benson has had the 3,000-square-foot warehouse, which is in the same building as the American Heart Association, for eight years.

She and her husband, Jim, bought the business – which then was a franchise called Norwalk the Furniture Idea – in 2004. Greg Wyers opened the store in 5,110 square feet at Tallgrass in 1998.

“In fact, Norwalk was the first store in that complex,” Julia Benson says.

She and the chain faced some serious hurdles when the economy crashed a few years ago.

“In 2008, when the banks first started squeezing in, Norwalk went under,” Benson says.

Her store remained in business but felt the pinch, she says.

“The same thing happened to me that happened to everybody else.”

That’s why she’s looking for new, less-expensive space.

“I love what I do,” Benson says. “I believe that our customers will follow us wherever we go, and so far I’ve been proven right.”

She adds, “I don’t mean that to sound like a braggart.”

In the couple of weeks since she’s moved, though, Benson’s business hasn’t diminished.

Still, she hopes to find new space quickly, and she’s not picky about what part of Wichita it’s in.

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