The Blind Factory: Our History & Passion
Always vacationed in the Florida Keys and on one of those March trips while having lunch on the Gulf of Mexico before returning back to Mn they decided they were going to sell the business and move to Marathon and do something new! They put their Lake Carlos Home on the market upon returning and it sold 2 weeks later with a closing date in June. Entrepreneurs.
So in 1987, after selling Paul's business, The Fireplace Brick & Stone, and their home Paul & Lynne Lommen left Alexandria moved to Marathon Florida in the beautiful Florida Keys to embark on a new entrepreneurial venture. They would start a "Window Decorating Specialty Store" and fabricate blinds and shades.
Earlier in Paul's career, he had been involved in a brand new product by Levelor called the mini-blind! The Fireplace business had a window covering department like so many other businesses like furniture stores, hardware stores, etc and he always believed there was a market in that industry for specialization. They bought a home in Marathon, built a shop in the garage, ordered business cards and they were off on their new venture together. They learned rapidly that the Minnesota work ethic would prove to be a valuable commodity in this laidback island culture. They opened a storefront on Overseas highway in 1989 and started "The Blind Factory of the Florida Keys" with the logo "We Shade the Keys."
After 6 years of enjoying a very successful business and building their "dream home" on the ocean, the couple wanted to return to their homeland! In 1994 they sold their business( it is still operating today) and their home and returned to Alexandria home in 1994. Well they thought if we are moving back home to Alexandria then there will be a "Blind Factory Minnesota" and thus "We Shade the Lakes". Over the 10 year they owned and operated the business in Alexandria, they expanded and moved their location three times. At its peak, the business located downtown had a huge two-floor showroom. Upper level included a large in house drapery workroom with 4 seamstresses (where customers to view the workroom process), a drapery hardware and trims showroom and a fabric showroom. The main floor displayed finished rooms decorated with every imaginable treatment both blinds and soft fabric treatments. The company employed 3 designers in addition to Lynne. A large factory was also housed on the main floor where blinds and shades were fabricated, and repairs were done for all window covering products and replacement components were sold. The company employed one full-time fabricator and installer. In 2004 Ed Rooney, owner of Cowing Robards, approached the Lommen’s with an offer to buy their business. The business was sold and moved to a new location. The business is currently owned and operated by Hirshfields.
The Lommen's owned a winter home in Arizona for many years and operated "The Blind Factory Arizona" and "shaded the desert."
After many years of freelancing under Lommen Decorating the couple decided to expand again and a new fresh business name was created Drapes On The Lakes By Lommen.
They will expand their studio at locally to 615 Nokomis St. Alexandria this Spring!