Furniture store has an eye for small spaces


Sam Alkhass claims he’s not in the furniture business. Instead, he said, his store offers space solutions.

“We’re all inhabiting smaller spaces,” pointed out the 17-year veteran of furniture sales. “A lot of these new condos and homes they’re building are very small and they need certain sizes of furniture to go in there. Nobody has gotten into space solutions.”

That’s why Alkhass opened his new business, La Jolla Design Furnishings at 1298 Prospect St. in the Crosswalk Complex, a little over a month ago, to take full advantage of this new niche in the furniture retail market.

“I’m the only one on Prospect doing furniture,” said Alkhass, who previously sold Tuscan-style furniture for large homes in Solana Beach. Now he sells colorful, practical, European-style furniture designed for comfort.

La Jolla Design Furnishings sells furniture designed for smaller living room, dining room and bedroom spaces in condomininiums, apartments and homes. La Jolla Design Furnishings packages its furniture with art pieces, handpainted oils in floral styles, along with other accessories.

“On top of that,” said Alkhass, “our prices are directly from the manufacturer. We work on small margins.”

Price was one of the main selling points to two recent customers of La Jolla Design Furnishings, Zoran Basaraba and Doran Mamo.

“The style and quality of the furniture is totally not related to the prices,” said Basaraba, who purchased leather furniture for his La Jolla Shores home. “It looks like it’s much more expensive Italian furniture. It’s very appealing: the color, the feel, everything. The artwork is very appropriate and matching, modern.”

Mamo bought furniture from Alkhass for his dining and living rooms.

“I’ve traveled a lot,” he said, “been to Italy and other places, and we like his stuff. It’s very contemporary, modern, with nice looks and colors.”

The furniture retailer contends he can undercut his competition.

“A dining room table set that would cost you $7,000 or $8,000,” said Alkhass, “here, it costs you $2,900. It’s reasonable, good quality. That’s the bottom line.”

Alkhass has a storeroom in Irvine. This allows him to deliver merchandise to customers in 48 hours.

“Most stores, you need to wait four to eight weeks,” he said. “If we have it in stock, it will be delivered immediately.”

Alkhass’s decision to relocate to La Jolla was well considered.

“What attracted me to La Jolla is the prestige,” he said, “the name.”

La Jolla Design Furnishings has been well received in the community, according to Alkhass. He has been surprised by how warm a reception his store has gotten.

“I just opened four weeks ago,” he said. “A guy came in and, when he saw the price, he wanted it now. I said, ‘Fine, take it.’ ”

The furniture store makes house calls. Alkhass is willing to travel to a prospective client’s residence and do a complimentary design consultation with the owners.

“We look at the unit,” he said, “tell you exactly what you need. If it works, we go forward.”

Alkhass trained for an entirely different field, engineering with an environmental emphasis. But he began doing his own interior design and found the skills it required of him appealing.

“I loved designing my own place,” he said. “Then I started buying properties and furnishing them.”

From there, Alkhass said it was a matter of developing his own design vision. He’s never regretted the choice he’s made.

“It’s absolutely a fun job,” he said. “I love to help people out. I’ll go out of my way to get them exactly what they want.”

Located near the Crabcatcher and other popular restaurants in the Jewel, La Jolla Design Furnishings benefits from foot traffic.

“We get a lot of walk-ins in the evenings,” he said, “a lot of crowds that come in after dinner. I call it dynamic foot traffic. So we stay open until 9 or 10 p.m.”

Alkhass has numerous catalogues offering a plethora of furniture styles and accessories for customers to choose from. He has a small showroom with samples of items from his catalogues.

“If somebody has a space, we customize that for them,” he said. “You minimize your space, and you can maximize what you want.”

La Jolla Design Furnishings is open noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Call (858) 454-7900.