PA-based Domaci is a wonderland for eclectically minded, environmentally motivated consumers and perceptive designers.
Domaci means home in Czech. Warren and Derrick Clark (the Czech Connection) and their partner, Rebecca Addington, target the creation of the perfect ambiance for their clients and friends, so they can love where they live and find their own perfect “Domaci”.
A wonderland for eclectically minded, environmentally motivated consumers and perceptive designers, the Domaci showroom’s welcome includes almost every kind of home furnishings imaginable. Visualize upholstered and top grain leather furniture, reclaimed wood tables and bookcases, cowhide and natural fiber rugs and iron-forged media cabinets. There’s a custom live-edge program that invites browsers to select from headboards, dining/coffee and side tables that are “uniquely you”. There are crank tables handcrafted from reclaimed teak and recycled iron from India. The vast spectrum swings from clocks, local artisan pieces, soy candles, wooden nickels, unique glass bottles, antique cameras and that ancient typewriter their customers have always been eager to find!
Domaci is a destination in its own right. You’ll find it on East Third Street just off Main Street in legendary Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, one of the nation’s “top 100 best places to live”.
Once a center for shipbuilding and renowned since the mid 1800s as America’s largest steel producer, the city’s cultural and historic heritage also includes its interesting choice as the safe storage place for George Washington’s personal effects.
There are three institutions of higher learning at Bethlehem and, since 1937, during the Great Depression, the town has adopted the designation of America’s “Christmas City”. A nice blending of the potpourri of credits is the huge steel star, the Bethlehem Star, perched on top of South Mountain. To round out Bethlehem’s credits, it is the home of the prestigious annual Bach Festival.
We launched our
Domaci website in the fall of 2015, followed by a pop-up shop in nearby Easton, Pennsylvania. Shortly after that, we opened our first brick and mortar location.
Could the partners have found a better place for Domaci? “We moved to Bethlehem in 2014, knowing that the area was ripe for the kind of business we wanted to start. The right demographics were there, and there was really no one else doing what we wanted to do.
“Both Derrick and I separately got our starts in retail while in college,” Warren told us. “I wasn’t immediately drawn to design and home furnishings but became interested in décor and really honed my skills while working for the Bombay Company for over seven years. I was a District Manager for them when they filed for bankruptcy in 2007.
“It was my work with them that took me to Texas where I met Derrick. We were actually neighbors living in the same apartment complex. We have been together since 2005, married in 2012.
“We have very similar tastes in design and décor, even gifting each other with the exact same items one Christmas! Owning our own business had always been at the back of both our minds. And that dream continued to grow once we started planning it together.
“We launched our Domaci website in the fall of 2015, followed by a pop-up shop in nearby Easton, Pennsylvania. Shortly after that, we opened our first brick and mortar location in the spring of 2015 on Bethlehem’s historic Main Street.
“Rebecca joined us during our first year. She came in as a customer during one of our first weekends, and we were immediately attracted to her energy and enthusiasm. We learned that she worked at the Pottery Barn in nearby Allentown, and proceeded to recruit her when we were ready to bring on our first hire.
“She has been instrumental in helping to grow our design services and our customers absolutely love her. Rebecca became a partner in the business in 2018.
“Also in 2018, we relocated from our original shop on Main Street to a larger location nearly three times the size in Bethlehem’s up-and-coming SouthSide Arts District. And we will be opening a second location this fall in downtown Lancaster, PA.”
It was crucial we provide both a great in-store environment and experience
that customers would talk about with their friends and family after they left the shop.
During the first heady months of the virtual store in 2015, owners Warren and Derrick filled orders from inventory they kept in their garage, ordering larger items on demand. “Word of mouth” worked for them then. And it still does. “Some of our best customers have been referrals. We have a limited advertising budget. Even more so when we first started!”
When “bricks and mortar” became an actuality, they knew that it “was crucial we provide both a great in-store environment and experience that customers would talk about with their friends and family after they left the shop. We also rely heavily on social media for promotion and we love it when we notice people ‘tagging’ someone else in a post to make sure they see it.”
It’s not a surprise that the partners’ philosophy extends to the great wide world of sustainability, a movement that is exponentially gaining impetus, credibility and broad recognition. Susan Inglis, Executive Director of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, “Met Warren through Home Trends and Design, a founding member of SFC. He and Derrick took our GREENleaders’ class as they were preparing to open the store.
“Our program ‘Sustainable Saturdays’, is a unique program SFC offers to members to support sustainable events in their communities. Regular events help get the message out. We are happy to use all of the tools we offer including SFC's brochures and electronic files. More information about these can be found at https://sustainablefurnishings.org.
“Warren, Derrick and Rebecca are brilliant! They are bringing a great design sense and an empowering attitude to their region, and the result will be many happy homes, I am sure. It is significant that they have a commitment to best practices to sustainability. The home will only be happy in the long run if it sustains a healthy future. Working with Domaci will ensure that.”
The SFC has been vital.
Thanks to them and to the education they provide, we know exactly what to look
for when sourcing sustainable furnishings.
To the partners, engagement in
the enjoyment and promotion of
everything vintage has heightened
their awareness of sustainable
furnishings. “It’s only going to
grow. While some of the younger
generation may not be focused
on furniture that lasts forever, they
are still concerned about where
it’s coming from and what it’s
made of, and that factory workers
are treated fairly and that no
harmful chemicals are being used
in the manufacturing process.
“The SFC has been vital."
Warren continued. "Thanks to
them and to the education they
provide, we know exactly what to
look for when sourcing sustainable
furnishings. They’ve helped
us find vendors to shop from as
well as the right questions to ask
when we’re meeting with a potential
“Most customers are definitely
willing to pay more for furniture
they expect to have a longer life
span and that won’t end up in the
landfill in a couple of years. But
if you are asking if they are willing
to pay more just because an
item is responsibly sourced and
produced, then probably not the
The challenges involved in
keeping sustainable furnishings
affordable? “Our biggest challenge
in that aspect comes down
to transportation costs. Which
would be a factor even if we
weren’t sourcing sustainable
goods. The goods themselves are usually truly affordable, but the
expense of getting them from the
vendor to our showroom and/or
our customers' homes is sometimes
a deterrent. Our primary
vendors are over 1500 miles from
Bethlehem, so freight is always a
concern. We work with a number
of local vendors whenever we
can, but that’s not always a possibility.”
They also, “Recycle all paper
waste and cardboard packaging.
We reuse other packing materials
like bubble wrap and packing
peanuts whenever possible.
Additionally, we attempt to be as
‘paperless’ as possible with most
files kept electronically. We also
use LED track lighting.”
We’ve had calligraphy
marts, a pop-up
flower shop... even a
guest speaker on the
history of brewing in
Bethlehem for ‘Lehigh
Valley Beer Week’.
We try to keep it fun
Said Warren, “The modern
consumer does a lot of research
before making a major purchase
such as larger furniture pieces,
so it would be perfectly natural
for them to look around at other,
more well-known stores and websites
before visiting us. They are
just exploring all of their options.
“Engagement really starts when
they enter the shop. We have
to create an environment that is
eye-catching, interesting and that
feels like a mini adventure. We
believe everyone should be greeted
within a minute of entering the
shop. Even if they’re just there to
browse, we let them know we’re
available if they need us for anything.
“If a customer lingers in the
store for awhile and seems to be
taking interest in certain items,
we’ll engage in a little ‘tough
talking’... meaning we’ll talk
about the piece they’re touching
or looking at. This is especially
true if they’re looking at one
of our items with an interesting
history or sustainability story.
An example, ‘Did you know that
table is made from a recycled
foundry mold from Bethlehem
Steel?’ or, ‘Did you know that the
finish on this table is water-based,
and that you don’t need to use
coasters to protect it from moisture
rings?’ Those sorts of things.
Beyond that, we try to keep them
engaged when they’re outside the
shop with interesting and relevant
social media posts.
Our look and style
are probably most
popular with Millennials, but our regular customer
base really does run
“And we regularly update the
shop’s layout, doing three to four
major floor moves a year along
with additional ‘tweaks’ so the
shop is different just about every
time someone comes in. This
prompts them to stay longer and
“Additionally, we host events in
the shop to keep things engaging,
fun and entertaining. We’ve
had calligraphy workshops, maker’s
marts, a pop-up flower shop
and more. We even had a guest
speaker who spoke about the
history of brewing in Bethlehem
for ‘Lehigh Valley Beer Week’. As
we grow our design services, we
would like to incorporate some
in-house workshops to the mix as
“I wouldn’t say we have a ‘target’
consumer. Our demographics
are truly all over the place.
Bethlehem is a college town that
is also a bedroom community for
Philadelphia and New York City.
And we have a large population
of retirees. So, we try to have a
little something for everyone. Our
look and style are probably most
popular with Millennials, but our
regular customer base really does
run the gamut. Most customers
come in first for great design
and quality furnishings. While we
do have a handful of customers
coming in specifically because
of the sustainable pieces, I think
most of our customers just end
up seeing that as a bonus. It helps
them feel better about making
a purchase that they probably
would have made anyway.”
Domaci’s diverse inventory
includes the best and brightest of
design trends, judiciously chosen
for interest, appeal and longevity.
Warren said that “In addition
to regularly attending the major
furniture markets in High Point
and Las Vegas, and keeping an
eye on industry publications, we
also keep a close eye on the
social media accounts of retailers
in other areas of the country
who inspire us and tend to have
a similar design aesthetic. More
than once we’ve reached out to a
fellow retailer to compliment them
on something in their shop and
ask them if they could share their
source with us. As for the future,
I think we’re going to see eclectic
style continue to grow. People
don’t like to be put in boxes
and labeled as belonging to one
particular style. So we’re going
to see vintage pieces mixed with
shiny and new items. Industrial
elements mixed with more glam
Domaci reaches out to “Actually
partner with the design community
and make referrals whenever we
have someone approach us with a
project that is beyond our scope.
We have a great partnership with
a local designer whose primary
focus is kitchens and bathrooms...
not rooms we really focus on. We
have sent her a number of referrals
for customers who approach
us about redoing those rooms. In
turn, she has referred customers
to us who are looking to update
rooms she doesn’t focus on, like
living rooms, dining rooms and
bedrooms. In fact, one of our best
customers last year came from
this partnership. Since we offer
our own design services, some in
the design community might see
us as a competitor, but we do
offer a ‘to the trade’ program for
any who might be interested.”
Domaci's “In-home consults are
a vital part of our Studio D design
services. Not only are we able to
go in and take important measurements,
but we’re also able to
get a feel for the entire space and
how our customers actually ‘live’
in that environment.”
The partners are constantly
looking for ways to add excitement
to their retail mix. “For us,
in-store events are one of the
best ways to create and maintain
excitement. I already mentioned
our guest speaker during
beer week. We also had a ‘Back
to the ‘90s’ party one evening
awhile back. We served Zima
(Jolly Ranchers optional), had a
specially curated ‘90s music playlist
and invited a local vintage
clothing store to have a pop-up
shop in our space that night with
a focus on ‘90s fashions. It was a
fun evening for sure.
“And an on-line experience...
we had a customer from out of
state who was looking to purchase
items for her mother who was
from the area. One of the items
she wanted was out of stock, and
we weren’t sure if it would be
available again before Christmas.
But we promised we’d keep her
up-to-date if so. It just so happened
that we did get that item
back more quickly than planned
(thanks to a great vendor partner!),
so we were able to get it to
her mom in time for Christmas.
Our customer was absolutely
When an addition to Domaci's
staff is needed, “We base our
choice, first and foremost, on personality.
Is this person someone
we genuinely enjoy talking to? Do
they maintain good eye contact?
Would I see myself shopping from
them personally? Experience is
great, but all of the technical stuff
can be taught. I’ve often heard
it said that potential employees
never get better than their interview,
so if we aren’t truly ‘wowed’
by them at that stage in the hiring
process, we’re probably going to
We do three to four
major floor moves a
year along with
additional ‘tweaks’ so
the shop is different
just about every time
someone comes in.
“We do provide in-store training.
We’re still a small operation,
so we don’t have a formal
training program just yet. But
adequate time is spent with any
new employee to make sure they
understand policies, procedures,
our customer service philosophy,
product knowledge and more.
“We are working on a more formal
training program as we grow,
so hopefully that will be something
that comes to fruition before
the year’s end.
“Currently all employees are
paid hourly with commission.
There are occasional bonuses.
We don’t currently offer health
care, but that’s a goal as we
Domaci has a grand maxim
that really covers all aspects of
customer service, “Under promise
and over deliver!” And that
being said, they “Try to keep it
as personable and informal as
possible. We don’t take ourselves
too seriously. We have formed
friendships outside the shop with
several of our customers. Just be
real and genuine. And always
‘under promise and over deliver’!
“Derrick is a member of
Bethlehem’s Historic and
Architectural Review Board. We’re
both active participants in our
downtown association and we’re
very active supporters and participants
in our retail neighborhood
“Additionally, we have regular
‘give-back’ events where a portion
of our proceeds from the day
or evening will be given to a local
charity or organization. Right now
we are actually wrapping up a
book drive to celebrate ‘Read
Across America’ and help ‘Cops
’n Kids’ make their ‘March for
the Millionth’ goal to donate one
million books to children across
the Lehigh Valley. Customers who
donate a book (or books) get a
discount at Domaci.”
Events & More Services
"I’ve often heard it said
that potential employees
never get better than
their interview,so if we
aren’t truly ‘wowed’ by
them at that stage in the
hiring process, we’re
probably going to pass.
Some other marketing treasures
were found on Domaci's lively
and colorful website. Under the
website heading “domaci happenings”,
there is an invitation to
meet with local real estate experts
to get tips on shopping for a new
home, plus offering information
for those looking to sell. Also, an
offer for shoppers to join them for
“Live music beginning at 7 p.m.
and FREE BEER while you shop!”
Could you resist?!
Warren’s latest news? “We’ve
recently added real estate services
to our offerings. Both Derrick
and Rebecca are now licensed
realtors! “So now we can help
our customers furnish AND find
Janet Holt-Johnstone is retail editor at Furniture World Magazine.