Unique Furnishings specializes in quality, creative items
A hard-to-find item that offers a strong sense of creativity seems to dominate the landscape and inventory at Unique Furnishings.
Anything and everything are two words that serve as the brick and mortar of the eclectic and cozy store located at 1612 University Ave. Owned and operated by Ricky Boatright for the past 13 years, Unique Furnishings has carved out a niche, and in the process, finely-decorated many homes, dorms and residences in and around Oxford and Lafayette County.
For AliBeth Jenkins, Boatright’s custom designer, coming to work is far from a chore; it’s refreshing, simply because there are so many new items that arrive at unspecified times. Jenkins said Boatright is able to purchase items from various showrooms and vendors that are next to impossible to purchase in large retail stores, or that are just so different, they may not fit in anywhere else.
“We have stuff for everybody, young, old, things that you just don’t see everywhere,” said Jenkins, who earned her marketing degree from Ole Miss two years ago. “This store has really grown a lot in the past two years. When the economy hit, retail businesses took a hit. But you can see that things are picking up, rapidly. And is there any better place to move to or have a second home or to send your kids to school than Oxford?”
The ability to also tastefully design and decorate the surprisingly spacious surroundings is also a perk of Jenkins’ job.
“Design is my passion. I would say I have an eye for it,” said Jenkins, who has routinely helped customers in the staging department. “It’s more than my hobby, and a job is something you have to work at. This isn’t work for me. When you enjoy your work, you want to be here. This is fun.”
Being able to serve and meet the needs of the customers is also very high on the list of those that work at the store, Jenkins said.
“It’s all about knowing your customers really, and listening to them and what they really need or looking for,” Jenkins said. “There are a lot of places where you have to go in to two different places to buy a plant and a lamp. Well you can buy both a plant and a lamp here, or a table and a piece of art.
“It’s diverse and you never know what’s going to be here. We have people come in not looking for anything particular, and something catches their eye. They also keep coming back because they never know what they’re going to find.”
There are some items that may not stay on store shelves very long and may not make a return appearance, and Jenkins emphasized that as another reason why so many people become repeat customers. Regardless of the item, whether it’s a lamp, couch, table or piece of pottery, Jenkins said the pricing is kept affordable.
“Our price point doesn’t scare husbands,” Jenkins said with a smile. “We try to keep everything at a price point that keeps everybody coming back. That’s a big thing for us, because they know they’re getting quality stuff at a good price.”
Outdoor furniture is an item that was just added to the list of inventory this year, and Boatright created an outdoor area that helps model the furniture. Jenkins said customers have been clamoring for the furnishings for some time, especially furniture that could stand the test of time despite being located outside in the elements.
“We’re the only place in Oxford that sells Summer Classics outdoor furniture,” Jenkins said. “That has been a huge seller and huge selling point this season because there is nowhere else to buy quality outdoor furniture here unless you go to a big-box store. But if you go to your neighbor’s house, they’re going to have the same thing. These couches are so comfortable you would think they should be in your house.”