What started as an effort to find a permanent storefront for a 22-year-old Topeka business has turned into a new locally owned home improvement and design store in North Topeka.
A few years ago, Chris Schaefer, owner of Skilled Saws Hardwood Flooring, decided he needed a permanent storefront for his business, which had primarily been operating out of his home.
When his business partner Randy Matzke came on board around that same time, they started looking for a place. And in late 2019, they wound up purchasing the building and half acre of land at 2335 N.W. Clay St., in between North Star Steakhouse and the North Topeka Dillons store.
“It used to be an old bar,” Matzke said of the structure, which was built around 1930. “When we look at the final product, it truly is the vision we had for this building.”
That building is now Denali Home Design, which not only houses Skilled Saws Hardwood Flooring but serves as a hub for a handful of other home-improvement services and products.
The idea to open Denali Home Design came about while Matzke and Schaefer were remodeling their newly purchased storefront.
“I was getting a little discouraged going to houses day in and day out,” Schaefer said, “and they’re asking: ‘Hey do you know anybody who can do a deck? Do you know anybody who can fix my roof? Do you know anybody who can put cabinets in?'”
He thought instead of constantly referring clients to other businesses around town for their non-flooring-related needs, “Wouldn’t it be easy if we had people in here and we could just send them to a single location?” Schaefer said.
So that’s what he and Matzke created in less than two years. They connected with seven other Topeka-area businesses offering home-improvement services and decided to provide potential clients those products all under one roof.
In addition to Skilled Saws, Denali Home Design has partnered with Polaris Home Enterprises, Kansas Spray Foam Insulation, KB Design Solutions, Tall Grass Windows & Doors, Electronic Life, NextHome Professionals and Jan Davis Interiors.
“We wanted to hand select the vendors that we allow in here,” Matzke said. “I feel like we’ve got a really good group of people, and we’re continuing to add to our product offerings by looking for other tradesmen. So we’d like to grow it from the current eight to maybe 14 or 15 different types of companies.”
Denali showroom emphasizes local, looks to expand
Each of those businesses has products — from cabinets and countertops to smart-home technology and insulation — on display in Denali’s roughly 3,000-square-foot showroom.
That showroom officially opened in April, but a grand opening of Denali Home Design is planned for July 10.
When the store is open, potential customers may wander into the showroom to look around and purchase certain products, or they may schedule appointments with one or more of the vendors to tackle specific home-improvement projects.
“We tried to create a place that was welcoming and inviting to customers,” Matzke said. “This is a low-pressure, no-commission sales environment. … At the end of the day, all the vendors in here just want to help the client make the right choices and make their home better.”
According to Schaefer, what sets Denali Home Design apart from big-box home-improvement stores is its emphasis on supporting local.
“We can get the same exact stuff that everybody else is getting,” he said. “It’s a matter of you buying something from somebody who’s done it for 22 years and knows exactly what you want, or buying it from a kid right out of high school, who is trying to sell hardwood and doesn’t know the difference between laminate and a (luxury vinyl plank) product.”
Though Denali’s showroom is strictly inside right now, the owners hope to open an exterior showroom on site soon. Matzke said that could be home to such products as landscaping features, hot tubs, an outdoor kitchen, fire pits and more.
Matzke also sees the outdoor area becoming a hub for community activity, from lunch-and-learns to company celebrations.
“This would also be a meeting space our vendors could use whenever — for after-hours events for their employees or customer-appreciation events,” Matzke said. “We hope to have the same for Skilled Saws and Denali.
“We really want this building to be used for educational events, for all of our vendors to host educational events. Those are already in the works and being scheduled as we speak.”