Pandemic Threatens Rebarts

Network’s longtime provider of window coverings struggles over shelter orders
Fridays on the Homefront
The San Diego family (above) behind Rebarts Interiors has been struggling to recover from the shock from COVID-19. Their successful yet vulnerable four-showroom window coverings operation on the San Francisco Peninsula and South Bay is facing an uncertain future, and possible closures.

Most every business starts like a ship in a fog bank, carefully navigating murky waters in search of passage to safe harbor.

Bart and Becky San Diego, owners of Rebarts Interiors, for the past 15 years a popular Eichler Network retail vendor of window coverings, thought they had emerged from that uncertainty long ago, only to find themselves scrambling again this year in the fog of COVID-19.

The San Diegos entered 2020 optimistic about the year ahead, "and then all of a sudden COVID happened," recalled Becky of the surprising shock that recently hit her company's successful yet vulnerable multi-store operation on the San Francisco Peninsula and South Bay.

Without their four retail locations and the walk-in clientele so essential to supporting extensive staff and overhead, Rebarts has been especially hard hit by the fallout from the pandemic.

Fridays on the Homefront
Rebarts and staff in happier days—at the opening of their Menlo Park showroom.

Furthermore, Rebarts is very much a family business, so shelter-in-place has affected not just the San Diego household, but those of most of their adult children—a treacherous shoal in the economic ocean indeed.

"He started out at our home, in the garage by himself," Becky recalls of how husband Bart launched the first leg of their venture in 1985. "He was just like a one-man deal."

Rebarts Interiors soon became known as a go-to vendor for fixtures in Eichler homes by focusing on what Becky calls "the Rolls-Royce of window coverings," Hunter Douglas.

"That's the only company we deal with," she added, noting that there are less expensive window coverings but none that measure up in terms of quality. "We really stress the prestige of the product."

Fridays on the Homefront
Silhouette: part of Rebarts' Hunter Douglas Eichler-friendly line.

"In the beginning, Bart worked with a lot of [products]," Becky recalls of their business's maturation. "He saw that Hunter Douglas was the best product [with the] best guarantees."

"Then, our living room became our warehouse," she said of the growing operation, which soon expanded to a storefront in Burlingame and eventually showroom sites in three other Peninsula and South Bay cities—San Carlos, Los Altos, and Menlo Park.

"We were just getting calls left and right, so we became, by accident, the Eichler specialist because of the [compatible] needs of Eichler homeowners," related Becky of the company's unplanned specialization.

Slowly the company staff grew as well, starting with a friend of their younger daughter, Oscar Tostado.