Business partners Brian Barlow and Charles Sparks have created a shoppers’ paradise at Craftsman Market, a new furniture and home decor store in Hudson, NC carrying only made-in-the-USA products. Hudson is in Caldwell County, known as the “Gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains.”
The recently opened store is a hidden gem for shoppers looking for unique items that are not mass produced. “Everything we sell is made in America,” Barlow said. “That includes all the furniture.” Even the Country Store within the Market features jams, jellies, cookies, dried soups, Amish popcorn and other specialty food items made in the region.
“Right now — the times we’re in — we think it’s very important to focus on products that are made in America,” he said. The two are committed to featuring high-quality, locally made products. “We think it’s important to support local businesses when we can,” Sparks said. “It’s important to us to support our community. Small businesses are the backbone of the country.”
Art on consignment
The shop also carries items on consignment. “All of the art comes from within 50 miles of us,” Barlow said.
Art like the paintings of Kent Paulette. “His pictures are very deep in color and character,” Sparks said. “He loves doing work featuring nature. You can’t appreciate [his art] until you actually physically see it. It’s just spectacular artwork.”
Among the shop’s unusual pieces is a $6,000 rocking chair made by master woodworker Richard Weigand, whose works have been commissioned for historic homes and estates across the country.
Customers often express surprise at the upscale shop, Barlow said. “We’re a small town,” he said. “Most people think this looks like something you’d find in cities like Asheville or Charlotte.”
Touch and feel the quality
Barlow and Sparks conceived the idea for the Market several months before opening the store.
“Originally we were going to open an online web presence because that’s what a lot of people are going to now,” Sparks said. But his years in the furniture industry told him people like to “touch and feel the quality of the furniture.” And knowing they wanted to specialize in custom work, the men understood selling online wasn’t the best option. “Sometimes it’s really difficult to customize dining tables online,” he said.
No two hand-crafted items are identical. “It’s hard to show one picture when that’s not exactly what the customer is going to get,” Barlow said. “We realized we really needed a building.”
They purchased a building, spent three months remodeling the former gift shop and opened in early February. Customers can also shop and order and customize items online. And, they didn’t worry about launching their business in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. “Any new business is always risky,” Barlow said. “Nothing is guaranteed. You’re never going to succeed if you don’t try.”
The bigger challenge was finding things made in the U.S. “We’ve got down comforters, bedding, sheets. Most of those products are made overseas now so it took some time,” Barlow said.
The two find their personalities and strengths complement each other making them a strong team. “I’ve always been an optimist, able to see an opportunity present itself,” Sparks said. “I’ve always been someone that takes chances. “Brian, on the other hand, is a very calculated person. He’s able to do a lot of really good planning. Together, because of our talents, we can pretty much move a mountain. The word ‘team’ truly defines us.”
Craftsman Market is at 2994 Hickory Blvd. on Highway 321 in Hudson between Hickory and Lenoir.
Visitors have to look for the store. “We’re not in a shopping center, Barlow said. “We’re right off the highway. If they’re not looking for us, they could drive right past us.”
Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday and Saturday and noon-6 p.m. on Sunday.
For more information, call 828-572-4424, go to the showroom at 2994 Hickory Blvd, Hudson NC or visit craftsmanmarket.com.