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New Ownership at True Colors

True Colors new owner and long-time employee, Jordan Bushey, left, with former owner and founder Bill McQuiggan. Photo by Cassandra Hemenway.
True Colors Blinds & Design, once a paint and wallpaper shop that now specializes in window treatments and flooring, changes owners this month. Store founder Bill McQuiggan hands over the keys to Jordan Bushey, an employee and apprentice of sorts for the past nine years. 

“When Bill  decided to retire, I said I don’t want to do anything else,” Bushey said in an interview. “So, we’ve spent the last year and a half planning for that.” The transition between owners is happening at the turn of the year and should be complete by mid-January, he said.

When McQuiggan opened True Colors in 1989, behind the House of Tang, he didn’t know he would have a 33-year run filled with one accommodation after another to meet a changing retail world. McQuiggan’s approach has had to remain deft, changing as turn-of-the-century 1-800 retail sales numbers, then the internet, took over his retail market. His constant from the beginning has been a deeply trained staff and hands-on service. 

Bill McQuiggan in front of the wallpaper books at True Colors. Photo by John Lazenby.
Don’t let the unassuming storefront on Route 2 fool you. True Colors has had the distinction of being the first in Vermont to recycle paint in 1992 (a short-lived project that sparked “Local Color,” a paint reuse initiative still thriving at the Chittenden Solid Waste District). As well, the business has outfitted the Vermont Statehouse with window treatments and had a five-year run funneling sales through Costco in Colchester. 

“I’ve had my business so long that we’re now doing business with the children of our original customers,” McQuiggan said in a phone interview. He recalled the many times he and staff were installing window treatments at customers’ homes and ended up helping out with unrelated chores. 

There was the time one of his long-time elderly customers needed just one window blind installed in a bathroom. “Her shower curtain was falling down,” McQuiggan said. “I ended up fixing her shower curtain for her.” 

Another time he ended up hanging pictures for a customer. And there was the time, more recently, when Bushey ended up hauling a kitchen stove up a customer’s icy driveway because he happened to be in his four-wheel drive truck when the delivery halted because of the road conditions.

McQuiggan said True Colors started out as a paint store carrying just two lines — California and Benjamin Moore. It added a wallpaper sideline that included 1,000 wallpaper books and full-service assistance. It turned out to be the perfect business; customers borrowed the books, figure out what they wanted, and True Colors could custom order without having to store a lot of inventory.

Store manager Kath Natzke, “a respected wallpaper hanger,” would not only help customers choose colors and styles, but would go to their homes, measure walls, and get involved in the planning process with them.

McQuiggan is proud of his history as the first paint recycler in Vermont as seen in this clip he saved from a 1992 Burlington Free Press article.
“Kath and I would measure windows for customers and show them different options for window treatment,” McQuiggan said. “Originally we were selling miniblinds and verticals. Eventually we went over to the honeycomb blinds. They are all cordless now; back then they were pull cord.”

“We’ve put blinds in the statehouse, the supreme court, and almost all the state buildings downtown,” he added. McQuiggan also said the store stopped selling paint in 2015. With the bulky paint inventory gone, the surprisingly roomy storefront features two large rooms filled with displays of blinds, valances, and flooring.

New owner Jordan Bushey brings his own specialty to True Colors. He has unraveled the inner mysteries of the blinds, and offers his repair service along with on-site measuring and installation. 

“The way we do business is not going to change,” Bushey said when visited at the shop. “We might streamline some of the ways we do things, but in general we’re doing the same thing.”