Robert Kelly Home gallery continues to evolve
December 13, 2013
Five years ago, Bob and Nancy Zierk, owners of the Robert Kelly Home design gallery, moved to Park City from Chicago to start a new life.
They owned a chain of furniture stores and decided to sell the business and their home once their children Robert and Kelly left home.
"Our kids were off to college and grad school, and we had a midlife crisis, because we wanted to do something different," Bob Zierk told The Park Record. "We had been out to Park City many times to ski and visit during the summer, and fell in love with the area. We felt this would be a great place to relocate for the next phase of our lives."
Before moving to the Wasatch Back, the Zierks came up with a game plan.
"I knew the furniture business and we came out here with the idea of possibly doing some development and open a gallery," Bob said. "We started out by wanting to get away from being just a furniture store."
The idea was to feature the paintings, sculptures and photography by local and regional artists and offer American-made, handcrafted, custom furniture pieces, accents and accessories.
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"We thought we could do that with all the development that was happening in Glenwild, Deer Valley, Wolf Creek and places like that," Bob said.
The idea of naming Robert Kelly Home after their children was something Zierks had always contemplated.
"When we were trying to think of a clever and catchy name, we kept coming back to that name," Bob said. "It sounded upscale and professional, and we kind of liked the ring of it."
"The only problem was our daughter would have preferred top billing, but Kelly Robert didn’t quite have that ring," Nancy said. "So now she always says, ‘Yeah. I’m the least favorite.’"
After the Zierks opened their first gallery at 408 Main St., the present location of J GO Gallery, the economy tanked.
"We gave it our first year and decided to change the plan and appeal to a broader clientele," Bob said. "We made sure there were no big corporations that are involved. We brought in some more upholstery and wood lines and leather."
During that time, the Zierks came into contact with a handful of artisan crafters.
"When I originally formed the business model, I wasn’t familiar with artists per se," Bob said. "I went online and checked out the Western Design Conference, where high-end custom-made pieces are shown each year."
Three years ago, Robert Kelly Home moved to its current location, 449 Main St., across the street from the post office.
"With 4,000 square-foot showroom on Main Street, this place was bigger than where we were and we knew we’d be able to show more product," Bob said. "I had just kept my eye open for a larger space."
After a chance meeting with the new space’s landlord, the Zierks leased the area and subleted their other space to Judi Grenny at J GO.
"The timing was great," Bob said. "Everything just fell into place."
The Zierks reached out to furniture makers and visited them and asked if they would be interested in showing in Park City.
"Many of them said yes," Bob said.
The couple then found themselves in touch with visual artists.
"As far as the paintings, photography and such, we discovered them when we moved to Park City," Bob said. "Some approached us and we approached others and selected the ones who had a look that wasn’t represented on Main Street."
Many of the artists are from Park City, Summit County, Salt Lake City and other parts of Utah, Bob said.
They include photographers Jason Christensen and Rick Pieros, oil painters Jan Perkins and Lori Campbell, sculptor Owen Mortensen and sculptor Trenton Higley.
"We wanted to find artists who made a place look like a home, and we had the wall space to show their pieces," Nancy said. "We strive to have a homey feeling to this place."
That’s part of the challenge, Bob said.
"We have to make sure we stay within the lifestyle of the area, but are still cutting-edge," he explained. "We try to be more eclectic."
The problem is how easy it is to lean on manufacturers rather than focus on custom design, Bob said.
"Sometimes I find myself drifting in that direction, and have to rein myself in to our mission of providing things that many people don’t see anywhere else," he said. "We don’t want to become a typical furniture store and stay special. That’s why people come in. They see things that they don’t in other places."
Another development over the past few years is the Robert Kelly Home staff.
"We went from initially being focused on sales to a staff that is comprised of interior designers," Bob said. "We’re more of a design resource for a complete home than just an accessory service. And we can design a complete home from ground up or just do some accent pieces for certain rooms.
"All of our staff have degrees and backgrounds in design," Bob said. "They are all very well qualified for any type of project."
The Zierks are proud of their gallery’s growth over the past five years.
"I love hearing comments when clients or other designers come in for the first time," Bob said. "Many people who come in have second homes in Park City and they come in twice a year to see what’s new. And we have some who give tours in the gallery to their friends."
"Sometimes when you’re having a rough day and you hear someone say that our place is great, it helps us to know that we are on the right track," Nancy said.
The couple looks toward the future with anticipation.
"We want to improve on what we have been doing," Bob said. "We are pecking away at the idea of working with realtors, builders and architects. We feel like we are just working with the tip of the iceberg."
For more information about the Robert Kelly Home gallery, call 435- 615-7125 or visit http://www.robertkellyhome.com.
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