When Chattanoogan Michael Turner decided to go his own way professionally in 2013, he referred to the First Commandment of Retail.
"When you start a business, you have to see a need in an area not being serviced," he says. "In the years after [the Great Recession], I saw that a lot had changed in the furniture business. Kinder's was no more. Carpets of Dalton was a shell of what it had been. Ethan Allen had left town.
"There was no mid-range (option), edgier, with a little nicer product. You basically had A or Z, and no in between. I felt there was a real opportunity there."
So Turner, who says he rose to the presidency of the "retail establishment" for which he worked for almost 20 years, opened a furniture store in 2014. He named it Huck & Peck -- his grandparents' nicknames, Huck & Peck (Margaret) Broyles.
"I was ready," he says. "I'd been ready. I always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but I had to make sure I dotted my 'i's and crossed my 't's.
Turner says his initial plan was for Huck & Peck to "be more of an internet company, with no real shingle." But he was surprised by what he learned.
"There's as much overhead operating an internet concern as there is with brick and mortar -- more than you'd think," he says. "Now you're seeing Amazon and some of those really big guys talking brick and mortar.
"So I decided to throw out a shingle and do retail the way I knew, my own way -- with a very customer-friendly attitude. I was excited to do that again."
Chattanooga developer John Wise lent him the space to throw out that "first shingle."
"In August of 2015, John allowed me to use what's now the Henry Lofts building to test a pop-up Huck & Peck," Turner says. "I saw in a few months that downtown worked for me. But I had to move because John needed to build out that space."
Turner eventually set up shop at his current location, 1251 West 31st Street, where he says nearly 500 apartments are going up close by. Today, Huck & Peck has won six consecutive Times Free Press "Best of the Best" furniture store awards and is taking "a major bite of market share," says the shop owner, who adds that his store's success is built on offering a variety of products.
"I wouldn't have been successful if I'd just been a lighting buyer or shoe buyer," Turner says. "I had to buy everything. We have a pretty eclectic mix of goods. One of the things missing in Chattanooga at the time (Huck & Peck opened) was a store with a lot to look at."
Then there's the customer experience.
"When you come in our store, you're offered a cold drink," he says. "We want you to spend time in our store.
"If there's no customer experience, no reason for (a customer) to go back every week or every month, you're going to run into trouble," he says. "Brand loyalty isn't what it was. So if the customer's going to make the effort to come into your store, you'd better make that customer happy, because they'll let you know when it's not right."
Finally, Turner says, there's the team.
"There's nothing better than working for yourself, but you can't do it by yourself," he says. "I think the hardest thing in life is having faith in yourself. So many of us are nervous about taking that step over the edge, but there's no other way to fly.
"I enjoy spending time with people and helping them figure out their needs, based on their wants. This is what I like to do -- even on weekends."