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Ingrained in the Community

Posted On June 8, 2021

Longtime furniture and home accessories store Rusticks, plans to continue what its customers love

By Judy Royal

Photos byChelsea Cronkrite

Rusticks has been a fixture in the Cashiers business community for almost three decades, and the new owners have no plans to alter anything customers have come to love and expect. 

Don and Pam Gottwald purchased the furniture and home accessories store in January from Ann and Rody Sherrill, who founded Rusticks in 1992 and grew it from a 1,200-square-foot attic-like space above a friend’s office to its current three-building, 7,600-square-foot complex overlooking Cashiers Lake. Despite the change in ownership, Ann Sherrill will continue to remain involved with the business indefinitely, and Don Gottwald hopes the new arrangement will allow her to focus more on her passion for design.

“The continuity is important,” Don Gottwald said. “It would be foolish to come in here and say let’s change everything. What works is staying, and the opportunities that maybe Ann hadn’t had the capacity to pursue, we’re pursuing. I take very seriously and personally the idea of having the privilege of carrying on the legacy of Rusticks.”

Don Gottwald’s background is similar to what Rody Sherrill’s was back before Rusticks started. Both were retired from corporate America and looking to do something more entrepreneurial. Ann Sherill said it was perfect timing when Don Gottwald first expressed interest last year.

“We met Don and we thought he was just perfect, so we worked it out,” she said. “Rody and I were determined to find the right person for Rusticks.”

Another thing that won’t change is Nancy Albers, who is in her fourth season as the store manager. She plans to keep delivering excellent customer service to Rusticks’ many regulars as well as those who are discovering the store for the first time. She will also focus on making sure there is a good mix of products.

“We try to have something for everybody,” Albers said. “Our inventory is appealing to everybody. Also, people like coming here because they have an established relationship with us.”

Ann Sherrill said a high level of customer service is in large part what makes Rusticks successful and special.

“We do treat our customers like guests in our house,” she said. “We want them all to feel welcome every time they walk in the door, and we want to give them the best service they can get to keep them coming back.”

Rusticks has had the recent opportunity to expand its staff to include Senior Designer Stacie Platt, a previous Rusticks manager for several years who recently decided to return. She has been in the building and interior design business in Cashiers since 1999 and will help drive the plan for expanded design service offerings involving furniture as well as accessories, rugs, lighting, window coverings and artwork.

“We will offer everything from working with an architect to helping oversee construction,” Platt said. “We can furnish a place completely or just do one special piece. We can do anything and everything.”

Don Gottwald said demand is driving the focus on design.

“Our customers are looking for this type of service,” he said. “The pandemic certainly has fueled that trend here, but it was well underway even before 2020. Rusticks is uniquely qualified to provide that. There’s a need, and we’re in a really good position to help solve that need for our customers.”

Ann Sherrill said the COVID-19 pandemic actually contributed to an increase in business starting last year and continuing to the present because people were inside their homes more than ever and noticing a need for changes, plus more people were spending time in Cashiers and surrounding communities instead of big cities. In fact, Rusticks opened three weekends earlier than usual this year to try to meet the demand. Don Gottwald said that progress is likely to continue.

“There are literally hundreds of very nice higher-end homes under development that will be built in the next few years,” he said. “We’re happy to help these people establish their mountain getaway.”

Don Gottwald said the mountains themselves, as well as the momentum of the industry, made the prospect of buying Rusticks attractive to him, but he also mentioned the emotion involved with being a part of something so ingrained in the community.

“We have a great customer base,” he said. “We have a great team. It’s just a fun business. The store itself is very attractive and very appealing. When I’m in the shop, it just gives me energy. This is what I set out to do when I retired from corporate America.”

More About Rusticks

Owners: Don and Pam Gottwald 

Products: Furniture, home accessories and design services

Location: 32 Canoe Point, Cashiers, NC 

Phone: 828.743.3172 ext. 201

Website: www.rusticks.com

Instagram: @rustickscashiersnc