GIRARD, Ohio – This spring, Biviano Carpet One will expand its footprint and services with the opening of a cabinet department that will complement its existing product lines.
“We’re doing everything else already. The only thing we don’t have is cabinets,” says Jessie Popovich, co-owner of Biviano Carpet One.
The new 1,100-square-foot showroom will be adjacent to the hard-surface flooring showroom at 1818 N. State St. in Girard.
“We’re going to knock a hole in that wall and that way customers can walk over,” says Jim Popovich, who owns the store with his wife.
Their daughter, Grace, who has a degree in interior design, will run the new department.
“We’ll be able to offer vanities and kitchen cabinets,” Jessie says. “We’ll be able to be involved from start to finish on the project and that’s very comforting for customers.”
Focusing on the customer has been the priority for the Popoviches since they purchased the business in December 2017.
Rocco and Rose Biviano opened the store 75 years ago. When they retired, their son David took over the business with his wife, Lynne.
“We’re the first family away from the Bivianos but we’re smart enough to keep their name,” Jim says. “They had such a good reputation, and you have to keep your ego out of the business.”
Popovich has worked in the flooring industry since he began helping a friend install tile while he was in college.
“I’m a one-trick pony. I know one thing and I know it well,” he says.
Popovich became an installer before taking a job with McSwain Carpet & Floors in Cincinnati, where he worked as a distributor representative.
Jessie worked at one of the company’s retail showrooms.
The two then moved to Chicago, where Jim continued to work in the flooring industry and Jessie went back to school to become a dental hygienist.
Eventually they decided to bring their three children back to the Mahoning Valley to be closer to family, and Dave Biviano hired Jim.
“He said he hired me with hopes I would buy his business,” Popovich says.
At first business was steady but soon it began to grow. “Our numbers went up a little bit the second year and the third, and fourth year we had 40% growth,” he says.
A big help for the first-time business owners was that all the staff under the previous owners stayed on.
“Dave and Lynne had a lot of things in place,” Jessie says. “So, we stepped into something that was already working really well and everybody has stayed.”
But nothing could have prepared them for the first few months of the pandemic. Just as business was gaining momentum, the store was forced to temporarily close.
“That part was super scary,” Jim says. “We would come here and get the mail. Then we would shut the doors and go back home.”
The Popoviches kept in touch with their customers, often dropping off samples at homes to keep the business moving. Once they reopened, they say, customers flooded into the store.
“It seemed like people just ran in here. And they didn’t stop for about 18 months,” Jim says. “Last year’s numbers in October were unheard of. We had an exceptional, crazy October.”
He estimates business in October 2021 was 40% higher than the previous best month.
Eventually, business began to return to normal. The Popoviches say wait times are back down and supply chain issues have been resolved.
The store is part of the Carpet One Co-op, the largest floor covering buying group in North America with more than 1,000 independently owned locations in the United States and Canada.
But Jessie says while pandemic-related issues are mostly gone, new challenges are starting to put a damper on their business.
“It’s definitely coming to a halt,” she says. “I think it’s inflation and the cost of freight.”
While the cost of freight in September was down 2.9% month-over-month, according to the Cass Transportation Index, it’s still up 4.9% from September 2021.
The Popoviches are looking to blunt the impact of higher prices with customer service and niche offerings.
“Not a lot of stores in our area do full shower installs and bathroom remodels. It’s kind of a niche for us,” Jessie says.
Besides flooring, the business also sells blinds, countertops and tile.
As for customer service, the Popoviches say what sets them apart is their knowledge of the industry and that they’re a family-run business.
“You wouldn’t think there could be a lot that could go wrong with a floor but there’s a lot that can happen,” Jim says. “It’s crazy.”
In addition to Jim, Jessie and Grace, sons Luke and Logan also work at the store, handling installations and estimating. The family dog, Max, is also a regular face at Biviano’s.
“For many years, these mom and pop flooring stores were passed down and we’ve seen less of that over the years. So, it’s neat to see our kids want to be part of it,” Jessie says. “I want customers to know they’re in good hands and a family business does that.”
Pictured at top: Jessie and Jim Popovich purchased Biviano Carpet One five years ago from David and Lynne Biviano.