Julie and Jack Schuster have taken advantage of their location on the edge of to expand and draw attention to their Redmond-based business.
Last September, the owners of opened a small latte shop, Lucky Jack’s Latte, in the storefront of their Wallbeds factory, catering to the surrounding business park and to people bringing their pooches to the nearby dog park at Marymoor.
Julie Schuster says the couple got the idea from one of their customers who enjoyed seeing their Jack Russell Terrier, Jack, when he visited the business. Jack became the store's unofficial mascot after joining the family last December.
“He said, ‘I’d come and see Jack every day if I just had a coffee,’” Schuster recalled the customer saying.
Inspiration struck, and the couple decided to add value to their business by offering coffee and healthy food to their customers. They also help to publicize local animal rescue Motley Zoo by posting pictures of their rescue dogs and selling dog-related products—even dog treats.
Jack Schuster constructed the furniture for the shop, including whimsical tables shaped like dog biscuits, and the cozy store has been popular so far, Julie Schuster said. Soon they’ll be adding a new product called juicy bubbles (small juice-filled balls similar to the tapioca pearls found in bubble tea) to serve in smoothies, and they’ve talked about periodically holding events in coordination with Motley Zoo.
Though Jack was not adopted from Motley Zoo (he and his littermate had been abandoned in Issaquah), Schuster says the company is very excited to support the local rescue organization, and one of their baristas is very involved Motley Zoo.
Julie Schuster said offering healthful snacks is important to her, and she’s currently working with the Seattle Pacific Science Center to help it offer nutrition education for families. One great benefit of opening the store for the Schusters is that they can easily have healthy food around for their daughters, who often spend time with them at the shop. For Schuster, who is diabetic, healthful options and nutrition education are priorities.
The Schusters, who live in Sammamish with their children, have been operating Wallbeds for 13 years, after buying the portfolio from another local company, The Bedroom Store, which had planned to discontinue it. Jack Schuster had been working for that company, so they decided to buy it and continue the line. They first operated a store in Bellevue, but moved to Redmond a few years ago when they decided to manufacture their own Wallbed systems. They also have a retail store in Belltown.
Wallbeds are, in simplified terms, the modern version of the old “Murphy Bed” that folds down from the wall, but the Schusters’ company makes freestanding systems that can be added to any room. Some are faced with fold out tables or computer work centers, others are tucked behind floor to ceiling cherry bookcases, and others do double-duty as entertainment centers. The company also makes other furniture, including custom closet systems, and takes special orders.
Julie Schuster says that while the down economy has hit every business, including Wallbeds, the value added for homeowners as they make due with their homes instead of selling has brought some attention to their Wallbed units.
“What keeps us afloat is that we have space-saving furniture to fix up a home and economize,” she said.