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Fashion Par offers top-notch designs

By Nancy Grindle | Marion Times | January 28th, 2016

Fashion Par Kitchens has offered the best in designs for kitchens for decades. And in the coming months, the company will be even more accessible to residents as it moves to the old Sentinel Building in Uptown Marion.

For many years, Fashion Par Kitchens has been located in a tidy white building right across the street from Wells Fargo Bank in Marion. The name used to be Kitchens by Fashion Par, and still appears that way on the rotating sign.

When Ken Shaffer bought the business in 2004, the previous owner kept the building and Shaffer has been leasing it. Since that time, however, Shaffer has been looking for a suitable spot uptown.

Most of the company’s business comes from word of mouth and contractors’ referrals. As Shaffer put it, “When you focus on kitchens and only kitchens all day, every day, you get pretty good at knowing what works for any given home.” He estimated that about half of his work is with contractors and half is with home owners.

Although the company provides kitchens for some commercial properties, more of its business is in residences.

Shaffer has a staff of five, including himself. He and two others are designers. In addition, there is a bookkeeper and a carpenter. The small staff is an advantage in that people like the personal connection and hands-on feel of the group.

Some buyers have absolutely no idea what they are looking for; they just know the old kitchen has to go. Others want to work closely with the company on even the tiniest detail. Fashion Par has some specialty niches and a wide range of styles and options, for instance the top-of-the-industry Viking appliances.

The process goes something like this: At a first meeting, one of the designers will ask you lots of questions to figure out what your wish list might include. They will want to know such things as how much you cook and how serious a cook you are. Staff will also visit the actual location, take measurements, and consider elements like available space, traffic patterns, natural light and windows.

From its years of experience, Shaffer says he and his people can pretty much look at a space, listen to your wants, and then offer you a number of possibilities to give you exactly what pleases you.

The big plus from working with Fashion Par Kitchens is that the designers oversee and coordinate the entire project, everything from floor to ceiling. Over the course of a lifetime, you may deal with major kitchen elements only a few times, but because Shaffer and his people do it all the time, they know exactly what should happen and can smooth the way. This really helps ease an owner’s frustrations.

The company maintains a warehouse on the east side of Marion, so it has lots of items in stock. For something that may be a special order, the turn-around time appears to be relatively short, too, running three to eight weeks.

Shaffer may not supply everything for the room, but he said he relies on other reputable local businesses. He mentioned Adams Tile and Randy’s Carpet as a couple of those who work with Fashion Par.

Shaffer is really excited about the move to the Sentinel Building uptown. He wanted to have sort of an older looking paneled front for the building. So he had been experimenting and making drawings, even conferring with Ruth Fox, who consults on buildings from earlier eras.

Recently, while at the new location, workers came upon some old pictures of the Sentinel Building in its prime, and what Shaffer had drawn was so similar to the original front as to be almost uncanny. It pleased him a great deal to know he was on the right track.

The new location will provide a lot beyond a better location and a great look. At the current spot, a person has to negotiate a flight of stairs up to the design and show rooms, and this can be difficult for older people as well as for moving big appliances. The Sentinel building provides a ground-level front entrance, with no stairs and around 2400 square feet of convenient space. An apartment occupies the second floor, and only a hatch and mechanical stuff are in the basement area.

For now, continue to head to the white building. But watch for the new signs and information about the grand opening. Shaffer and his staff will be pleased to provide their expertise, regardless of where they are located.

And one of the important draws we almost forgot to tell you about at the new location: It’s right next door to the chocolate shop. How much luckier can you get?
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