A year and a half after Domaci opened its doors on Main Street in North Bethlehem, co-founders Derrick and Warren Clark felt they had outgrown their space.
In order to expand their furniture store, they needed more room. That’s when they set their sights on the place they originally wanted to be: the South Side.
Derrick and Warren stumbled upon Bethlehem when they were house hunting and fell in love with what would become their new home. They struggled to find a place to buy decor and saw an opportunity to create their own home-goods and furniture store.
Derrick, with a background in retail and non-profit management, said the idea of opening a furniture store had always been on their minds, no matter where they ended up. Warren said they knew the people, market and demographics in Bethlehem were right for their store to succeed.
“We put our passions together and with a niche opportunity, made Domaci,” Warren said.
They saw an opportunity on Main Street and opened their location in May 2016. Warren said they quickly learned that businesses are very supportive of each other and instantly felt Bethlehem’s “community vibe.”
Although they were content on the North Side, they needed and wanted more. The South Side excited them.
“We thought (the South Side) really fit our vibe, being a little funky and eclectic,” Warren said.
An opportunity to move presented itself when Cleo’s Silversmith Studio and Gallery on East Third Street closed after 20 years. Domaci closed its Main Street location on Dec. 26, 2017 and opened their South Side location in January 2018.
Rebecca Addington, the design services coordinator for Domaci, said she gives Warren and Derrick credit for noticing the South Side right away.
When Addington first moved to the Lehigh Valley, she was drawn to the historic North Side. Although the South Side had some interesting spots, Addington said it seemed people went for a specific reason and then left, without walking around.
Now on the South Side, Derrick and Warren have seen an increase in foot traffic. Derrick said the new location has brought more local customers, whereas their customers on the North Side were typically tourists.
Although they miss the buzz and traffic of Historic District festivals like MusikFest, they are happy being where they originally pictured their store. Addington said customers come in specifically to buy their products, rather than just looking around, and mention they have been searching for a store like Domaci.
“We just kind of laugh because people come from Philadelphia, from New York City and say, ‘we don’t really have anything like this there,’” Addington said.
Derrick and Warren plan to open a new Domaci store in Lancaster in fall 2019, where they hope to appeal to millennials in the vibrant downtown area.
But for now, they are flourishing on the South Side.