Adding a Homey Touch
At White Pine Artisan Market in Little River, Tracy and Larry Rouse offer custom-made furniture and Carolina-made home goods.
When Tracy and Larry Rouse moved to the Carolinas in November 2019 and she opened White Pine Artisan Market a month later, they wanted the white pine trees of Michigan to be a nod and a remembrance to their roots.
The Rouses grew up outside of Detroit, Michigan, and after visiting the Myrtle Beach area for years, the couple decided to leave the cold weather behind and make the Carolinas their home.
Tracy, armed with a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Walsh College in Michigan, was looking for a business opportunity when she heard that the owner of Repeat Junction was selling and the store’s lease was available. Tracy jumped at the chance to open her own business.
“With 10,000 square feet of space, we’ve got plenty of room for the 40 plus vendors who supply us with items on an as-needed basis for the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas and all of the other holidays,” Tracy says. “These vendors make jewelry, flags, pillows, signs, pine needle baskets and furniture such as desk sets. At White Pine Artisan Market, we’re committed to promoting the goods of artists and craftspeople who live and work here in the Carolinas.”
Local residents account for 60 percent of the customers, and the rest are visitors or newcomers.
“Our busiest time is in the spring when we see a spurt of activity because that’s when many people move here so they look for new furniture and home goods to make their new house or condo homey,” Tracy says. “We get our share of shoppers between Memorial Day and Labor Day when golfers and families who are vacationing head to Myrtle Beach.”
A primary focus of the business is the custom-made furniture. Larry, who has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, strips, refinishes and builds many of the custom-made pieces.
“We recently had a church donate several pieces of wood and we fashioned it into coffee tables and drawers for bureaus,” Larry says. “Putting reclaimed wood to good use is a priority. We’ve found that the hardwoods such as poplar, birch, oak and maple work best for creating durable pieces of furniture that will last for years. That’s as opposed to the softer woods like pine and cedar that aren’t as durable.”
Tracy adds, “Today people like single pieces of furniture that will stand out as one-of-a-kind pieces in their living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and foyers. Mixing vintage furniture with newer pieces is definitely in style. People also ask for ‘soft-close’ drawers and cabinets that shut quietly and effortlessly. The custom-made furniture is built off site then it’s delivered to the store for customer pickup.”
A big hit recently was a 5-foot long by 18-inch-wide console with a pear wood top.
“Pieces of pear wood that are that large and intact are super hard to find around here,” Larry says. “It’s native to Europe not America. We added some cedar legs, finished the wood and the final product turned out beautifully.”
Tracy relies on social media to advertise her products — still photos and videos of rooms full of furniture show well. She finds that many customers also browse the store’s website to see what they like and what’s available before they go into the store to place a custom order or buy something specific they saw online.
“Billboards placed on Highway 17 also work as marketing tools,” Tracy says. “To drivers going past, they’re real eye catchers!”
Want to go?
White Pine Artisan Market
Big Barn Center, 4340 Big Barn Drive, Little River
It’s open seven days a week from 9 am to 5 pm.