Vernon entrepreneur takes wood business into the woods
VERNON -- When searching for a new home for her growing, Vernon-based furniture business, Peggy Farabaugh kept some basic criteria in mind.
"My main message is to understand where your furniture comes from," said Farabaugh, who co-owns Vermont Woods Studios with her husband, Ken. "So I was looking for a place in the forest with a nice view."
She didn't have to look far. Vermont Woods Studios has purchased and will be moving into an 1800-era farm house and former ski area on Huckle Hill Road in Vernon.
The move is part of a continuing evolution for Vermont Woods Studios, which Farabaugh founded in late 2005 inside her Vernon home.
The business now is based at 2531 Fort Bridgman Road. The majority of Vermont Woods Studios sales happen online at www.vermontwoodsstudios.com, and staff members spend a lot of time answering questions over the phone or via on-line chats.
Vermont Woods specializes in solid-wood furniture that's crafted in Vermont and touted as "heirloom quality." Many buyers inquire about the smallest product details, and the business also works with customers to tailor furniture to their needs, said Doug Fletcher, sales manager.
"Our niche has been customization -- modifying a bed or a dresser size or height," Fletcher said.
The retail space also offers a small storefront and showroom for those who want to see and touch the product.
"We're getting clientele coming in," Fletcher said. "They've been driving from as far as five hours away."
So administrators wanted to create a destination for those customers. And a strip-mall-type space wasn't going to work, said Dennis Shanoff, marketing manager.
"It didn't fit with the brand," Shanoff said. "So there was a search for a unique property."
Farabaugh recently showed off that property, which includes a large country home on 109 acres that, in the mid-20th century, hosted Pine Top Ski Area. A wooden sign advertising Pine Top remains in an upstairs room along with a few sets of wooden skis.
Farabaugh envisions office and showroom space that puts Vermont Woods Studios products in proper context. She reasons that the unblemished view from the backyard can't hurt, either.
"I think customers are really interested in green furniture and a green lifestyle," she said. "This is an experiment. If it works, we think it can ignite the Vermont furniture industry, and everyone will benefit."
The business will remain on Fort Bridgman Road while months of renovations happen at the Huckle Hill property. Farabaugh said she's hoping to host an open house there sometime in the spring.
Eventually, Farabaugh hopes to add to her staff of eight full-time employees. And she's glad to be able to do it in Vernon.
"We're committed to helping the local economy," she said.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.
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