Consignment shop celebrates 'Simple Life'
CULLODEN, W.Va. -- Holding the bottom corner of a picture frame with her left index finger and thumb, Barbara Rutherford squints one eye and adjusts a painting hanging on the wall in her shop.
"It's upscale," she said. "We make sure everything is in good condition."
The painting is one of about 50 pieces of art hanging on a single wall in one of about 10 of the rooms in her consignment store, "Simple Life."
Located on U.S. 60 in Culloden, the 4,000-square-foot store, in the old "Putnam Post" building, is filled with home décor, such as shelves, antique and modern furniture, lamps, chinaware and other knickknacks. Elaborate rugs line the floors.
"I make it all blend together," she said, laughing at the organization, which could easily be a cluttered mess of a collection of styles.
"I've always loved design," the 58-year-old said. "Here, I get to rearrange every day as I get new items."
On purpose, the shop has something for everyone, said Rutherford, who added that she doesn't always expect things to sell that she personally likes.
"I don't judge. What I think is ugly," she said, pointing to vintage "Merry Mushroom" spice containers sitting on a shelf in the kitchen, "someone else likes."
She also doesn't mind keeping items on display that she's had for long amounts of time.
"It can stay with me forever. It's up to the consigner, but everything eventually sells," Rutherford said.
Many rooms have a theme. What was once a kitchen in the building now displays plates, wine racks, baskets, etc. One room is full of "primitive" décor, which is rustic and looks handmade.
"This is my 'girly room,'" she said, pointing to Betty Boop and other porcelain dolls that surround mirrors and perfume trays.
Rutherford moved to Culloden about four years ago from Washington D.C., where she had a similar, but larger store for 18 years. She now lives close to her grandchildren, and business at her store is doing well.
Her passion for the store is evident, from her warm smile that greets customers to her outgoing personality and excitement about all the items for sale.
"Everyone who enters gets a 'hello' and a 'thank you' no matter what," she said. "I consider myself a people person, which helps, too."
Her attitude also helps when it comes to organizing estate sales, another side of her business.
Her husband, Ken, whom she lives with above the store, loves antiquing, or "the hunt" as Rutherford calls it. Once, while preparing a home for an estate sale, Ken squeezed into a crawl space and discovered love letters a husband had written his wife before they were married.
"It felt good to give those to their children, who had lost their parents," she said.
That's what can also be difficult about preparing what remains from an estate for sale, since usually those participating have recently lost a loved one or committed them to a nursing home.
"You really have to love what you do, and respect their stuff. ... It's usually the children's home place and has years and years of stuff," Rutherford said.
She also respects her customers' time and wallets by not requiring appointments and even upon request will go to a customer's home to help decorate, using what they already own.
"I've found that when people want to get rid of their goodies they want to do it right then," she said about the importance of not requiring appointments. "That also gives customers a reason to come here often."
Reach Kate White at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1723.