Weathered Goods is a home furniture store that offers handmade (and custom) furniture pieces, upholstery, and other decor pieced together by the eclectic (but mostly Farmhouse Industrial) visions of husband and wife Michael and Betsy Pugh.
When it comes to making a house feel like a home, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone more experienced than this couple. After all, they managed to make an entire store feel like a home at one point. You’re about to get in the know on the interesting homes and home goods of Weathered Goods…
Tell me a little about your personal story?
“I’ve been in retail my whole life, starting at Kmart when I was 16. I’ve managed at Lowe’s, and that’s actually how I ended up in Fayetteville because Lowe’s transferred me here. I transferred to other towns since then, but I ended up coming back to Fayetteville because I love it here.
I started doing woodworking on the side, making stuff for me and my wife Betsy as we remodeled our house some 15 years ago, and I ended up really enjoying it. My dad had his own construction business so I have a little background in that field. And at Lowe’s, I was obviously around construction people and projects of that nature. So it was a familiar field.
A few years back, I was managing the Big Lots in Springdale when my boss came in one day and told me they had decided to close that store, which came as a big shock to me. They wanted to transfer me to Kansas City, but we didn’t want to leave this area.
So we decided to open our own business. I’ve always had that in the back of my mind as something I wanted to do but was always too afraid. But then the stars just seemed to align for us. I had a good retirement from Lowe’s so financially it wasn’t a huge risk. And then we found this property, so we just jumped in.”
And your wife was on board?
“She’s always been a huge home decor fan. Her way of relaxing and spending down time is going to Barnes & Noble, having a cup of coffee, and looking at home magazines. That’s what she loves to do.
Her passion has always been her home: decorating the house, working in her flower garden, just having a pretty home. She has done work outside of the home, she managed lawn and garden vendors at 15 different Lowe’s. But if she had her dream and wish, it would be in her house every day, taking care of it and keeping it pretty.
And she does that for our store, too. We’re both creative people and we bounce ideas off each other, but she definitely pulls the vision together and makes it look beautiful.”
What has been the biggest challenge for you, moving from big corporate stores to owning your own small business?
“I almost hate to say it, but I can’t tell you a single challenge for me. This is so much easier and less stressful than running something like a Lowe’s Home Center where you’re worrying about deliveries and install sales and all these customer– you have hundreds and hundreds of customers running through every day and 150 employees to take care of. So to me, this is an absolute joy.
You know, my wife wouldn’t agree. She would definitely tell you this is my dream. She has times where she would much rather be at home. But overall, she loves it too. She takes pride in the store, but by the end of the week she’s ready to be done.”
What’s something that would surprise people to learn about you?
Well, they figure it out once they’re here but our customers are always shocked and surprised that we have a house right behind the business – a neat-looking little cottage. So we live right here. The majority of people that live in this area have never pulled in behind this old building to our parking lot. People come in all the time and say, ‘I’ve lived here my whole life and never knew that house was there!’
We’re right here on College, the main drive in Fayetteville, but in our backyard we have deer, we have foxes…there’s a little creek behind the house and woods behind that. It’s really a unique situation.
Living so close to your store, doesn’t it feel like you’re always at work?
I’ve been in retail my whole life working 60, 70, 80 hours a week so it actually doesn’t bother me at all.
We have an interesting setup. I have a wood workshop right here in the store, glassed off on the inside of the store. We’ve got old windows framed in and doors so you can see into the wood shop while you’re shopping. So typically, I’m here building all day. And I like to come over and work in my shop some on our days off, too. I enjoy that.
Are there any difficult circumstances you had to overcome to get here?
“Well, this is more of a funny story. When we first bought this property, we put our other house on the market because obviously, we didn’t want to have both properties for a long period of time. We didn’t expect the first two people that looked at the house to make full-price offers.
We were nowhere ready to move over here yet. The cottage hadn’t been lived in for years. The windows were boarded up, we had no power, the roof was leaking. It had to be gutted down to the studs.
So while we remodeled the cottage, we actually lived inside our business for about seven months before we opened the store. We had it set up here just like a house because Betsy loves to decorate. We had pictures hanging on the walls, a living room set up, a kitchen, a bedroom. It felt like a big house in here, it was kind of cool.”
So if you’re curious about Fayetteville’s secret College Avenue cottage, eager to share a laugh with the Pughs (after all, they’re probably the friendliest couple you’ll meet), or simply in need of some lively, new upholstery, the doors of Weathered Goods are open. Don’t forget to check out Towny for some special perks to bring along with you. (Take a peek!)