Merchant marks half-century

Published 12:06 am Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Strewn inside and outside of Peterson’s Furniture: Antiques, reproductions and accessories shop, lie picked pieces of history, awaiting new homes.

Peterson’s Furniture celebrated its own history last month, marking 50 years of business in Andalusia.

Owner Eugene Peterson said he credits his vocational education at Andalusia High School as the spring board, that led him to opening up Peter-son’s Furniture.

“It’s really been fun,” Peterson said about the last 50 years. “It’s been a tremendous learning experience, and most of all the pleasure has come from meeting and knowing people from all over the South.

“All over the southern United States they come here on their way to the beach and on their way to the mountains,” he said.

Peterson began learning the craftsman’s and refinishing trades as a freshman at AHS, and while a sophomore and junior, he participated in the co-op program.

“It just fell in line from there,” he said.

Peterson graduated in 1961 and opened up his shop in 1962. The venue started as a furniture repair and restoration shop.

“I liked refinishing furniture, and I learned a lot working after I graduated from high school,” he said. “For 50 years, I’ve had my shop right here in the same location.”

Over the years, Peterson expanded from refinishing furniture to selling antiques, old furniture and reproductions. Early in his business, Peterson started out doing work for customers, buying pieces, refinishing them and selling them.

He was so good as picking items, that he knew what his customers wanted, like the pickers on TV, Peterson said.

Peterson said the craft of refinishing old furniture takes a lot of “concentration and patience.”

“Repetition for perfection,” he said. “I was trained by the man who trained me — an old craftsman — to be a perfectionist. That helped me really try to attain quality work.”

Quality work can be seen all over Peterson’s shop, where old hutches and chairs look good as new, not to mention the many antique pieces.

Peterson said that antiques provide a gateway to the past.

“Ever since I’ve been here, I’ve restored and saved many a piece of history; family history and pieces I’ve collected that otherwise would’ve been discarded and sent to the dump,” he said. “There’s hardly a home in this town that doesn’t have things in it that I’ve put in their house that they treasure.”

As it was in the old days, Peterson’s Furniture still specializes in good, solid wood furniture of all ages, the owner said.

Above everything, Peterson said the antique and refinishing business is a “professional art.”

“It takes a special appreciative person to first of all, be able to restore the things, and second of all to collect them and appreciate them and keep them forever,” he said.

Peterson’s Furniture is open Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.