By Lena Mitchell
Daily Journal Corinth Bureau
TUPELO – Living in their RV while attending the semiannual Tupelo Furniture Market is like bringing home with him, said C & R Rustic owner Ralph Paul.
Paul and his wife, Cheryl, have been exhibitors at the market for two years, last year moving into a permanent showroom space in Building IV.
“We’ve always brought the RV since starting to exhibit here,” he said. “You’ve got your own home with you.”
The couple doesn’t attend any other furniture markets, and it’s about a four-hour drive from their home in Grove Hill, Alabama, north of Mobile, Alabama, to Tupelo.
“This is our first time in a permanent space,” Paul said. “It keeps us from having to set up and take down, a lot less trouble.”
Providing free, convenient hookups for electricity, water and sewer service is among the amenities the Tupelo Furniture Market provides for its exhibitors and buyers.
“We have more than 80 hookups,” said Vanity Jackson, who handles scheduling for the RV spaces at the furniture market. “There are about 20 to 25 who come back and bring their RVs every time.”
Gary Zehender, by contrast, is a full-time RVer, traveling with his wife Debbie and their 2-year-old Chihuahua Tippie.
“My home is where I park it,” Zehender said. “I have a U.S. map painted on the side of the RV, and I fill in each state we visit. So far I’ve traveled to 31 states. I love it.”
Zehender’s has represented his company, Rustic Heritage, at the market for eight years, and he works a Missouri-Arkansas territory.
“My wife is a retired teacher from Hickory, North Carolina, and we load up our 40-foot fifth-wheel trailer and take off,” Zehender said. “It has all the comforts – three slideouts, a fireplace, a washer and dryer, oak cabinets and other wood fixtures, and when we’re here water, electric and sewer are free.”
The 50-amp electrical hookups also allow them to run both their air conditioners, two televisions, a microwave, convection oven, everything they need.
“It’s so convenient to drive to a location and set up the fifth-wheel, and from there drive out to visit the furniture stores in a 100-mile radius,” Zehender said. “I go to the farthest location to have that personal contact with the customer, then end the day at home, having dinner with my wife.”