Business Conversations: 'Nobody Comes into Curtain Time to Kill Time'

It's hard to walk or drive around downtown Stoneham without noticing a fair number of very unique businesses. Some stand out more than others. Curtain Time is certainly one of the more unique and noticeable businesses in the area. Owner Ilya Cohen sat down to talk with Stoneham Patch about all things window decorating. 


SP: How long have you guys been at this spot here?

IC: 11 years

SP: How you describe this store to someone who had no idea what it was?

IC: This store with a complete solution for window treatment of any type from A to Z. We give advice on “how to do,” advice on colors that go together, things like that. Basically, we do everything from off-the-shelf ready made to complete custom. Complete custom is not just residential, it’s business, commercial and anybody in between.


SP: Who are most of your clients? Are they commercial, residential?

IC: Right now, our business base is about 80 or 90 percent residential. But a growing segment is business.


SP: O.K., so when people come in are they looking for the proper curtains to match their walls? What are they looking for?

IC: Actually, what they are looking for… Well first they come in all overwhelmed with the store. As you can see, it’s a huge place and it has every vignette you can imagine. SO they are overwhelmed and we understand. Most people don’t do curtains every single day, so it’s ok. But they’ll come in with a paint chip from the wall or a sofa cover or any other accessory they are trying to coordinate with and we take it from there. My staff is great. Their top qualification is their strong sense of color and not being shy about telling you what works and what screams. The one thing we don’t do here is make a sale for the sake of making a sale. Every part of our clientel, which is very unique, about 60 to 70 percent of the people who step in the store end up buying something. So nobody comes into Curtain Time to kill time. People come here with a mission. When I say a mission, I’ve had people come in here and they’re having a baby tomorrow. They are here to buy curtains today.


SP: That’s amazing.

IC: Yeah. SO like I said, people are here on a mission and we try to help their need with no hype, no sales, very few promotions. It’s basically customer service without the house call.


SP: How did you get into this business in the first place?

IC: That is a question I love to answer: My previous life, I was an engineer. I was an electrical engineer for 27 years with software and computers and I had a side business importing curtains. And one day in 2002 in October, I was here as one of my smaller accounts and the gentleman who has the same name as me said he was closing the business. I said, ‘what are you doing with it?’ He asked me if I wanted to buy it and I said, ‘Yeah.’ Next thing I know, I own the place.


SP: What separates you from big department stores?

IC: The know-how. Not to brag about it, but in my engineering background and the offerings I get from 32 to 35 different vendors, the selection we offer here is unparalleled. 


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