The following newspaper article was written April 24, 2009. Since then, Rita passed away on October 13, 2012. Her family wanted to keep her vision for the furniture store going. We appreciate you taking the time to read the article and we look forward to meeting you in person.
Take a good look at the lady in the photo below. Does Rita Craigmyle look like someone you’d expect to find stripping tobacco in a room illuminated by a single bare light bulb?
Or would a more natural setting for her be a fancy gallery with over-sized crystal chandeliers casting a glow over giant oil paintings? Actually, the valedictorian of the class of ’60 at Carroll County High School has done both. Rita’s Discount Furniture sits alongside US 127 just north of Owenton in what appears to be a barn. It is. But dozens of framed oil paintings of all sizes now hang in place of tobacco, and furniture sits where cows used to be milked. The old stripping room where the dainty, soft spoken, and sophisticated owner used to toil alongside her husband and son, now houses a workshop for a store that has to be one of the most unique in Kentucky. Her business card says it all …”Specializes in the unusual. Grand furniture & accessories from around the world at discounted prices.” “We had a Grade A dairy here and milked a hundred cows, but tobacco was our main source of income,” says the lady who lives next to the barn/store in a modest brick home with husband F.D., a former worker on Ohio River barges. Monty, their 32-year-old bachelor son lives on the opposite side of the store and sells used farm equipment, including a large assortment of tractors parked between the store and his house. To see all of the furniture on display, customers must visit two barns, separated by a short walk past tractors. The business has come a long way since being started in their garage in the early 1990’s. “It wasn’t built high enough to allow for an SUV, so we converted it into a place for my business.” As the enterprise grew, furniture and paintings were housed in the far side of the barn, while tobacco was still hanging in what is now the front showroom and office area. She says her interest in oil paintings, which cover nearly every available section of wall space and are likely the largest collections in the state, grew out of her sister’s knowledge and interest in art. “I know how to buy oil paintings, and I buy them in huge volume so I can sell at discount prices. I pick through hundreds of canvases (on buying trips) and then pick out the frames.” she explains. She says she’s also able to sell at discounted prices because she pays no rent, nor interest and has no advertising expenses. She depends on satisfied customers to spread the word. “It is all about one happy housewife telling another housewife.” Prices are based on size, with the most expensive one in the store being a 64 X 86 scene from Venice with a one-foot frame and price tag of $1,399. “You can’t go to Venice and buy one just like this, even unframed, for anywhere near that price.” she says. Furniture offerings range from a massive ornate cherry bed selling for $995 to electric fireplaces. Although she stocks items for more than 60 dealers, Rita maintains the independent nature fostered by spending most of her life operating a farm. “I’m not into having dealers tell me how to sell my products or how to use my space. We don’t do anything we don’t “want to.” All she wants to do is provide a place where she can see the delighted faces of customers from near and far. “People are usually very surprised when they walk through the door for the first time”