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Ex-Cormans employees start own retail store

Three men whose products might be adorning your Christmas tree have branched out to form their own retail business.

After years working for Cormans, the Lexington company known for its display work for major companies, J. Stuart Hurt, Dwayne Anderson and Jeremy Rice have formed their own retail design business to focus on floral displays, interior design, custom upholstery and more.

The trio's business, which is named "house: design, floral and event," grew out of a company, JSD Designs, they formed in 2006. While working for Cormans, the three designed Christmas products and more for Roman Inc., a gift and specialty products distributor. When they were laid off by Cormans late last year as the company rethought its retail presence, they decided to make a go of it themselves.

Hurt, who supervised Anderson and Rice at Cormans, said they intend for their store at 1583 Delaware Avenue, which opens Tuesday, to be a place where "everything has a story."

Beyond the merchandise they design that will be for sale, they also have brought in goods from other area jewelry designers and artists. Among them is an artist who took up jewelry design while she was battling breast cancer, he said. Their products will have a wall plaque or something similar to convey the stories to patrons, Hurt said.

"We want to make it personal," he said. "That goes right with our product development as well."

In addition to the products, the store will offer the floral design, interior design and wedding design services for which "the boys," as they call themselves, have become known.

"There's not three more talented designers in the area," said Ted Corman, president of their former employer, Cormans. The three were laid off after Cormans chose to de-emphasize the design-oriented retail portion of its business after its struggle during the height of the recession. "They make everybody who walks in the door feel like a million dollars, and that they were waiting just for them. ... I think they can really make a go of it."

At 1,500 square feet, the location off Winchester Road and near Henry Clay Boulevard is small, Hurt noted, but "every square foot is utilized, believe me."

"We know how to pack it in without it looking packed-in," he said.

The store will mark its opening with a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. Friday. After that will be free seminars at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

"It's some how-to clinics on sprucing up the front of your home for the spring; we'll give people ideas for that," Hurt said.