Step inside the Linen Tree and it’s difficult not to feel warm and cozy inside the shop – piled high with high-quality, plush linens and luxurious home décor.
It’s a feeling many new and returning customers have likely felt since the Linen Tree began calling the Shops at Hilton Village home in 1988.
To mark the Linen Tree’s 30-year anniversary, owner Kirk Laibe last month hosted an event that both thanked their customers and benefited Mingus Manor Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit organization that provides care for senior and special-needs pets.
“We owe all our success and longevity to our customers,” Laibe said. “They are the reason we are here and why we’ve been here for 30 years.”
About 75 percent of the Linen Tree’s customers are long-time customers and have been shopping at the store for as long as 20 years.
“We had somebody who came in and knew the store in Ohio, which started back in ’77,” Laibe said.
At the celebration held, the 30-40 attendees received 30 percent off one item, as well as complementary food and drink.
There were also over $15,000 worth of raffle items from luxury home décor designers, including Lili Alessandra, Kosta Boda and Bella Notte.
The raffle raised a total of $1,075 for Mingus Manor, and according to Karen Scherer, founder of the nonprofit, 100 percent of the proceeds will be used for food and medical expenses.
“We were hoping for more, but you know what, anything that you can give Karen helps, so we were happy to at least give her something,” Laibe said.
Kirk and his wife Mary’s relationship with Karen started around 2012, when Mary first heard of Mingus Manor and immediately got involved.
“[The Linen Tree] have been so incredibly supportive of what I do,” Scherer said. “Mary constantly comes over with the children – helping me out, volunteering their time. They are our biggest donor. I just can’t say enough wonderful things about them.”
The Linen Tree also has a fragrance line they produce to sell specifically to benefit Mingus Manor.
The fragrance is called Beau Vie, a French phrase that roughly translates to “beautiful life.”
“It’s only sold in the store and $1 from every product sold goes to Mingus Manor, and we’ve been doing that for about five years,” Kirk said.
Kirk purchased the Linen Tree from the original owner, Ruthie Schnitz, 12 years ago. Schnitz brought the brand and concept to Scottsdale from Bexley, Ohio, the birthplace of the original Linen Tree, which was founded in 1977.
He said he liked the Linen Tree “because of the beautiful products they sell.”
“They’re definitely the top 2 percent of every vendor in the fine home accessories that are made out there,” he said. “The previous owner had found all the perfect vendors and have weeded through and knew exactly what would sell and has got a great clientele base.”
It was an easy decision to make, but when the recession hit, it was difficult to keep the Linen Tree afloat.
“We just kept working and changing the mix of our store to fight the recession,” he said. “Then we have been changing our store to fight Amazon, which is our biggest competitor. It’s a constant fight to get people to come through the door and shop in person.”
To fight Amazon, Kirk said the Linen Tree’s greatest strength is its customer service.
“We just who we are, who we’ve always been,” he said. “We gift wrap bars of soap, we write ‘thank you’ notes, we come out to people’s houses, we iron sheets, we let people park in our spots, we know everyone by name.”
And, thanks to an increase in designers, new home builds and homeowners remodeling their homes, business has been good for the Linen Tree.
Kirk has one piece of advice to new business owners.
“Be vigilant,” he said. “It’s a long road to think that you can be a success overnight. It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of sleepless nights, but if you’re chasing passion, you’ll succeed.”
For more information about Mingus Manor and/or to donate, visit mingusmanor.com.