Owners Spotlight – introducing Neal & Laurie Woodard Penn Laird, VA

Sir Issac Newton once said “I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, and compassion” These are three undeniable qualities that exude from Neal Woodard who owns iDeal Furniture in Penn Laird, VA with his incredible wife Laurie. Neal and Laurie knew they wanted to be business partners ever since they tied the knot. It was a goal of theirs from the very start since they got married 20 years ago. Laurie spent her days looking for a way they could get into business. Neal has a background in business, which led him to turn down a lot of Laurie’s ideas, leaving her frustrated.

He knew just what to do after that and decided to reach out to John and Larry after coming across a mattress and furniture business opportunity. This plan made Laurie excited, because she was always interested in furniture and home decor. Coincidentally, she was in furniture sales as well. They agreed to reach out to CEO, John Bellave and Founder, Larry Kozin and actually found out that they were providing people with the exact opportunity they were looking for, so they took a chance and became the new mom and pop shop in town and haven’t looked back.

Before this journey started, Neal worked in several stages of finance. He was a financial advisor, ran a store for Verizon Wireless, was in real estate sales, and sales management. Laurie on the other hand worked in furniture sales and food management in the local hospitals. She was working that position until this past summer and is now taking care of her 93 year old mother. Laurie, just like Neal, has real estate sales experience as well. This made it easier to find the right store location to get started.

They are actually enjoying the business quite a bit. Being able to do something you take pride in with someone you love can be quite the thrill, especially when you’re crushing goals together and that’s exactly what they’ve been up to. The two of them work with a local interior decorator that refers her clients to shop at Neal and Laurie’s store. This has been a wonderful way for them to make new customers and build relationships with people in the community. They have progressed in their online sales as well.

The store has really started to make a name for itself over the internet and it’s responsible for over half of their sales. They’re looking forward to continuing the growth of their online presence and which enabled them to move to a larger location in the summer of 2020. Another goal the two have is eventually selling electronics and appliances as well. That’s a pretty groundbreaking opportunity for a furniture shop, and Neal and Laurie are up for the challenge. This is what they do, their goals are always straightforward and lacks complication. This is why those small victories are easy for them to gain.

Neal says that the best part of this experience has been being able to have the means to give back to the community. The two of them give to local charities and events often. They also allow local artists to display their work in the store. There’s no obligation to give Neal and Laurie a percentage of their sales, but they suggest either that or giving a percentage to a nearby shelter. The two of them love animals having 8 themselves. They have 3 cats of their own and 4 dogs and Laurie’s mom has a cat as well. They didn’t have human children, but they have plenty of fur babies. So donating to animal shelters holds a special interest for them.

Neal and Laurie are pretty happy with the success of the business that they grew through patience, compassion, and simplistic goals. If they could give a piece of advice to anyone who has similar aspirations it would be “Ask a lot of questions” says Neal. He mentions that when going into anything new, the best thing to do is learn as much as you can. The more you know the happier you’ll be with the result. Also plan things out, ask yourself am I doing this part-time? Full-time? Will I be working another job while I do this? Neal says he hopes in the future that Larry and John would implement a mentoring program for new owners , because that’s something that would interest him. The point is a lot of people start on this “do it yourself” plan and it’s great to be able to figure it out on your own; however, it’s also nice to have someone to look up to and call just to help each other out. Neal wants to be that hand to pull up the next person behind him.
Article written by Whitney Marquise Acoff