Meet the person behind your favorite locally-owned business.

What’s your name?

Sarah Paxton

What is your business name? 

How many years have you owned your business?


How did you come up with the name for your business?

My husband lived in Haiti before starting LaDIFF; the Haitian motto is “Haiti, Vive la difference!” We shortened it to LaDIFF in 2014 because that’s what everyone was calling us anyway (and it’s easier to pronounce).

How did you get the idea for your business?

Well, my husband started it 40 years ago; but in its Richmond life, the idea comes from the need to bring quality modern furniture to Virginia

What local business can you not live without?

Either Frank’s Ristorante (for pizza) or La Cucina (for dinner) – we eat at or from one or the other at least once a week.

What’s the best thing about being a local business owner? 

The flexibility and ability to change your mind. If you’re part of a BIG corporation, there are lots of rules, hoops, and multi-store considerations before changing your marketing, your product mix, your strategy. As a small local business, we can be a bit more nimble. Also I love really getting to KNOW our customers – many have become true friends.

What’s the first thing you do every morning to set the tone for your day?

Read my emails

What tool, object, or ritual could you not live without in your workday?

My computer with two giant monitors.

What does the world need more of?


What tool, object, or ritual could you not live without in your workday?

My computer with two giant monitors.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Time travel. I’d love to go back and talk to people from my past and past history to learn from them directly.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Richmond when you’re not in your business?

Eat out in one of our fantastic restaurants!

What’s your hidden talent?

I’m a good sleuth / deductive reasoner. Give me a problem and I’m going to try to solve it.

What was the first concert you ever attended?

The Cars in 1983. I think they were lip-synching

Who do you look up to and why?

Right now, anyone who works in the ER or a hospital.

What do you love most about Richmond?

The variety: art, history, thriving university culture, the river.

What’s nextwith LaDIFF?

Over the last 41 years, LaDIFF has had many incarnations, from a small shop selling handmade crafts to a whole-house home goods store to the furniture store you know now in downtown Richmond. We have had 6 showrooms: 2 in Charlottesville and 4 in Richmond… where we have occupied the former Watkins-Cottrell building for the last 23 years. Each move and each showroom meant a new version of LaDIFF.

The time has come for another change, another reinvention, another evolution, and the chance to be DIFFERENT once again. They are preparing for a BIG MOVE. (More on that here.)

With that, LaDIFF would like a fresh start in the new space. So… they’re having a $5MILLION MOVING SALE!