Danville designer marks 10-year anniversary

September 20, 2004|JOHN T. DAVIS

Lisa Disco loves her work, and apparently the people who have been customers at her store over the past 10 years love her work, too.

"The fabric shop is my passion," Disco said. "I love working with my customers, and I love creating."

Disco started Fabric Unlimited on Sept. 25, 1994, in two small booths in the Antique Mall of Historic Danville, which is located in the old church building at the corner of Third and Broadway. Now, her store consumes 2,300 square feet on the lower level of the mall, and she could use more space.

She moved to Danville in the early '90s from Chicago where she was a buyer in the home decor business. When she returned to Danville, she worked as a part-time decorator for a local paint store.

"My clientele base started at the paint store," she said. "It amazes me that I still have the same clients."


Her big break came in 1997 when she won first, second and fourth prizes in a local Designer Showcase competition.

"After the showcase, I went to Natchez and did two historic homes there. They had most of the furniture sent up here to be re-upholstered.

"The bulk of my business comes from referral, word of mouth. People will say, I'm blah-blah's sister and they told me to come see Lisa."

"She's able to match stuff so quickly," said her father, Joe Disco, owner of the Antique Mall. "She gets that from her mother."

Her mom was her partner

Pat Disco, co-owner of the Antique Mall and her daughter's partner in the fabric business, died 33 months ago.

"Mom and I started the business together," Disco said. "She was here every day until she died. Every day when I walk in here, I feel her presence."

Customers looking to buy drapes or upholstery often bring in a piece of wallpaper for Disco to match.

"But they don't have to bring me anything," Disco said, "They can describe it to me.

"Some days when I'm on and my imagination is good, I don't need anything."

She tries to stay updated with current trends. Beaded and chenille fabrics are "real hot" right now, she said.

"I don't draw a lot of ideas from magazines and books. I draw it out of my head so everybody doesn't have the same thing."

Fabric Unlimited focuses on "discounted designer fabrics," but that doesn't mean the store sacrifices quality, Joe Disco said.

"We don't depend on quantity as much as we do quality," he said. "We don't buy seconds, and if we find something defective, we send it back."

"A fun place to shop"

Disco said she tries to make her store "a fun place to shop."

A couple of friends who've had "tragedy in their lives" have said "this is the first place I've come since I've been ill or got out of the hospital," she said.

"It's the same way upstairs," said Joe Disco, who owns the Antique Mall. "There's no pressure to sell anything.

"Some decorators try to tell the customers what to do. Basically, the customer is the one who has to be satisfied with it."

Most of Disco's customers at Fabric Unlimited are local, but she has a growing number of customers from across the country.

"The farthest I ever shipped is Saudi Arabia. The farthest I've ever made a house call is Natchez, Miss.," she said.

Disco said her store, the Antique Mall, and the Tea Leaf restaurant, which also is in the old church building, combine to provide a pleasant destination for visitors.

"Some ladies spend the whole day here," she said. "Not every small town has something like that.

"I came in here one day and there were three ladies here from West Virginia," Lisa Disco said. "They said they had looked me up on the Internet and decided to drive here."

After 10 years of owning her own shop, Disco said she still enjoys helping people find affordable ways to beautify their homes.

"I love it. It's my world. There's not a day that I walk in here and don't feel grateful. I love to create ... love to have people say, 'What you did turned out great.'

"I want everybody to have a beautiful home."

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