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103 N. Main
Beaver Dam, Kentucky

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Lonesome Pine Mercantile

Ben Ashby

On our recent road trip through the south we went to visit our good friend Samuel Melton at his store Lonesome Pine Mercantile. Nestled in the town square of a small East Texas town Lonesome Pine is a majestic and serine look into vintage design. Samuel is creating not only a place to get local goods but a style that could change a small town into a mecca for the design world. We asked him some personal questions about not only his store but life in general.

Why your small town in Texas?

Well I grew up here, I went to school down the street, I danced at the pickin palace on Saturdays on blues night. However I grew up saying I would never come back to this town. I think I have a essay somewhere from middle school stating I was going to live far far far away from Hemphill. However being far far away for years I missed it. I came back for a visit and couldn't believe what my town was becoming , slowly it was becoming a ghost town. The square that I once spent most afternoons became empty and by passed by new faster highways. So being at the right place in my life I declared that somewhere on this square had to be my store. So I set on my new badge of the "urban exodus". It's also a part of my story my town is a huge pet of who I am so it's only appropriate to open up in this old East Tx town that has its quirky stories.

Starting with a physical store first, was that hard?

The hardest part was finding the location we had few options and each became a challenge. I think we went through the 3 months with 5 different location options. I think in a small town a physical location is smarter rather then online. Most people in this town still don't operate computers. This being ok because we wanted the town fellowship most of all before a online presence. On a the same topic the other hardest part of a physical location is people don't understand why a non married 26 year old man would come and open store so it's mainly breaking down that wall of questions and expectations that seems to be the hardest.

What products can we expect online?

Online will be treated as invite to East Texas more than anything. We will sell our local made goods from our friends/southern makers as well vintage textiles. This includes rugs, pillows, blankets and throws. I'm obsessed with the fact that textiles can change a home with a few here and a rug there. So I want to spread my idea of textile living. We will have furniture available however it'll be local pick up , but we actually haven't had a issue with that. People are so supportive that they want to explore Hemphill and East Texas so they are willing to come to the shop and grab their new pieces. I'm also excited to say there will be a blog on the site . We offer styling and home collaborations so we will be able to show our adventures and talk about the rural life more. 

Who inspires your style?

That's a big question. I tend to experiment a lot with style but always circle back to a vintage mix. I guess in stylist or designer I would say Emily Henderson because she really understands that life calls for lives in styles or style that can ware well in better terms. I do have to say my parents are hugely inspirational with encouraging me while younger to explore styles and history of pieces which made me come up with what my style early on. My parents are afraid to put the odd in their home and layer colors which shows up in my styling of homes usually. I share a love for Folk pieces and those odd pieces in the home much like my parents. In places that I draw inspirations from it would be the old old farm homes around my town you walk in and see the simple details that I go crazy for. From the cheap whitewash they used to the slim pine floors; the colors age well and look so amazing whether you add that new West Elm sofa or the found old worn leather chair. 

Did working at West Elm give you an advantage on competition in the area?

Working for WE I would say gave me a advantage but gave me a vision on what potential I see for a home can be. This area is so under served that anything new can be that thing that inspires other to branch out and start thinking design. 

What areas do you want to grow your business (i.e. design, products, etc)?

That changes everyday as of today I would say I would want to be able to bring the shop on the road. I know for sure to help and style homes is our goal. Recently we have become buyers for local designers where they are coming for the unique. I do want our local maker presence to also grow with hopefully collaborating ( being able to collab is a complement like none other to me) . We have such great talent in this small county of mine that it's a shame to not have it showcases in a better setting rather then on the side of the road.  So for our evolution as a store I think it's to style more and find more makers that deserve a chance to be showcased.

Where do you see yourself and your business in the coming years?

Well for Lonesome Pine I just want to become a presence. This meaning for people to see that we are here and we have something special in East Texas. Also I just want the store to survive the first year can be a hard one with learning how your store will work and drawing in customers it can be scary. I do want my business to become that inspiration to others to invest in small town Texas (maybe East Texas) and rally around them as a friend. To see the empty next to me be filled with a coffee bar, eatery, and etc would be my idea of growth.