Business

Owner of Daylight home stores is retiring. Here’s what it means for the business’ future

Why owner of Daylight Home, Lighting & Patio is retiring after 46 years

For 46 years, John Billings has owned the Daylight home and patio stories in San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles. Here's why he's stepping away from the business and what will happen next.
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For 46 years, John Billings has owned the Daylight home and patio stories in San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles. Here's why he's stepping away from the business and what will happen next.

The owner of a local home and patio store known for offering eclectic merchandise from around the world is retiring after 46 years — and he’s holding a massive going-away liquidation sale on the way out.

But contrary to rumors, he says, Daylight Home, Lighting & Patio is not closing either of its two San Luis Obispo County locations.

Longtime owner John Billings said that he is stepping away from operating the business that sells “comfortable indoor and outdoor” furniture from stores in San Luis Obispo and in Paso Robles.

He is handing over the leadership to his wife, Yan Billings, and relying on longtime general manager Erik Stanton, who has been an integral part of the business for many years.

The store is holding a sale of 20% to 70% off with the intent of liquidating items that total $5 million in value from “wall to wall.” After the sale, the store will create a new, more streamlined business model, Billings said.

“We’re trying to pare down our choices and focus on our stronger companies, rather than offering an extreme, vast selection of so much stuff,” Billings said.

What the store sells

The store’s items include recliners, chairs and sofas, along with lamps, light fixtures, fountains, fire pits and gas grills. About half of Daylight’s products are for indoor use and half are outdoor.

At one time, Billings collected items made from up to 80 countries, including furniture cut from reclaimed fishing boats from Indonesia. The store also offers Norwegian recliners by the brand Ekornes Stressless and motorized chairs from the German maker Himolla.

Daylight is located on Monterey near Grand Avenue in SLO and on Theatre Drive in Paso Robles.

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Daylight Home, Lighting & Patio is holding a big sale as owner John Billings retires and turns over the business to his wife. Laura Dickinson ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

Billings said market forces such as U.S. tariffs imposed by the Trump administration have increased prices on foreign-made furniture items. American manufacturers that rely on materials from foreign countries have also been affected, boosting costs.

“The world’s No. 1 patio furniture manufacturer — made in California — even they import some components and that’s causing them to raise their prices 7.5 percent on Oct. 1,” Billings told The Tribune. “So, even though we might be teaching some countries lessons by our tariffs, it seems like it’s coming back to bite domestic manufacturers.”

Trump’s tariffs were ‘not a good idea’

Billings said he doesn’t think tariffs were a good idea.

“Even supporters of the president, or people who voted for him, still say, ‘I wish he wouldn’t have done that,’” Billing said. “There are uncertain times out there.”

Billings said he has had a unique business model, one that wouldn’t be taught in business school, where items would sit, unsold for long periods of time, sometimes years. He enjoyed buying atypical, unique product lines.

Store products include outdoor decorative pigs and chickens. Daylight doesn’t sell online.

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Daylight Home, Lighting and Patio owner John Billings is retiring after 46 years. Laura Dickinson ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

By his own admission, he over-consumed, and the business became more “like a museum” to stroll through and check out the eclectic variety, rather than shop.

“We’re going for a more traditional business model, rather than the unique, over-inventoried, museum approach,” Billings said.

Billings said he started as a single operator of a SLO street corner flower stand, Earthly Pleasures, next to the Network on Higuera Street in 1973, before opening Daylight on Santa Barbara Street in 1978. He eventually moved to Monterey Street and opened a second store in Paso Robles as well.

As for what’s next for him personally, the Atascadero resident said he’ll spent more time on home projects.

“There have been many customers I’ve enjoyed interacting with over the years. ... That was always a good time,” Billings said. “Every now and then, some would be more of a challenge than you might want to have, but it’s so nice here and that’s why we never went to L.A. or San Francisco, where we could compete. We like the Central Coast.”

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.
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