Judy DeLong is a Southern California native, raised in Pasadena, which happens to be in the backyard of where I grew up (this was exciting for us, probably not for you). She moved to Incline, NV in 1977 with her late husband Jim Lagano. In 1989 they moved to Reno, NV where Judy joined Deloitte Global as a CPA Administrative Manager for 19 years. Judy and Jim were thrilled to move to the Biggest Little City, Judy has been in love with the city since. She loves the great size of Reno, but the small town feel of the community. In 2002 Judy lost her husband Jim, to a long battle of 6 years against cancer.
In 2006 Judy and her newfound love, Bob DeLong were both retired from their careers and decided to travel across the country for 2 months hitting almost every state. This became a lifestyle for the couple and Judy was beginning to get bored with retired life. In 2009, one particular stop in Bozeman, Montana is very memorable to Judy. They were visiting friend Joanie Schaefer in her beautifully decorated home.
If you have not visited this store- it’s a must, the prices are killer. Real Deals was created in 2003 by Marisa Humphrey, soon she brought on here 4 sisters: Carrie, Karmelle, Wendy and Dori) they each adopted a love for home-décor. The stores sell cute home décor as well as furniture at UNBELIEVABLE prices. “2 days. 2 good to be true.” Each Real Deals store is only open on Thursdays and Saturdays. This is the model, which attributes the sale of their quality products at such an affordable price. “Part-time store, full-time anticipation!” –Real Deals
Judy and Bob jumped back in their RV and headed to Bend, Oregon (which was the nearest store) and this Real Deals franchise just-so-happened to be owned by one of the five sisters, Wendy Christensen. Wendy shared her journey and her beautifully filled store with Judy and Jim. The couple left Oregon with an idea in their heads.
October 14, 2010 Judy DeLong opened Real Deals Reno. Husband Bob, is very much involved, you can even find him pouring wine for the ladies on Real Deals’ Diva Night. He has also helped Judy develop the business. Judy claims she really didn’t know much about the retail business, and thanks to Alice Heiman (does that name ring a bell?) she was trained in customer relationship building. Judy wanted to learn more about her customers as well as bring new ones in- this is where Facebook made an entrance. Here are the numbers:
Judy and Bob had poured thousands of dollars into traditional marketing tactics (i.e. newspaper ads, mailers) and disappointingly they had very little results. In July of 2010 Judy took a social media course with Lisa Larter and learned how to reach out to here audience on Facebook. With Facebook Judy is able to directly converse with her target audience rather than “spay-and-pray” with mailers, which leaves owners hoping that their brochure will make into the hands of their target audience.
“Facebook has been great, my presence has grown exponentially since I created our business page. People come into my store talking about my Facebook posts, and they look for items they had seen on our page. I really enjoy interacting with our customers on a daily basis- they keep me on my toes!”
Judy takes advantage of tagging customers in her photos; she has a feel for what a lot of her regulars want to see. Every Monday Judy has a contest for her fans. She will post a picture of a new item and all of her fans guess what they think the price is. Now this game is tricky! All of the items at Real Deals are of great quality and it is often surprising how affordable these items are. The fan that guesses the price most accurately without going over- wins that item! Judy got this idea from the Jefferson, Georgia store (which is Real Deals “home base” and biggest store).
Judy is also going to begin a forum on Facebook where customers can post pictures of what they are doing with Real Deals product. Customers can post pictures of their newly decorated wall, kitchen, or perhaps outdoor décor! Great idea. Check out Real Deals Reno on Facebook and give Judy a shout out.