WHITEHOUSE — Pam Alexander has created wooden "oddities" for three decades, often putting them up for sale in antique and craft malls.
She always wanted to have her own business, but life didn't give her the time until now.
"God had His own time agenda with me," she said.
About a year ago, she opened Dusty Door Décor in Tyler across from Trane. In April, she moved it about 5 miles south to Whitehouse.
"It was just like coming home," she said, adding that they have received a warm welcome from the community.
The 6,000-square-foot building behind Brown Elementary School began as a church and also has housed a gym and coffee shop before it became vacant and "was just waiting on us," Mrs. Alexander said.
About 40 vendors sell a little of everything — upper-end decorative items and furniture, antiques, vintage finds and handmade crafts.
One of her vendors is a husband-wife team, Randy and Christie O'Neal, who paint furniture to make unique pieces. She said Dean and Julie Dechiro rent a space for their business, Pickers & Estate Liquidators LLC, which has a "lot of great oddities."
Vendors come from Tyler, Troup, Jacksonville, Whitehouse and New Chapel Hill. Most of them have full-time jobs and lead busy lives but bring in new items weekly. Others come to the shop to hang out or work occasionally to give Mrs. Alexander a day off.
"That's just part of us being a family," she said, adding that she believes the camaraderie makes them successful.
Linda Collum, 67, of Whitehouse, has rented a space in Dusty Door Décor since it moved to her town. She sells handmade clocks, collectibles and intricate pencil drawings sketched by her husband, who is now deceased. She said she is selling some of her things to downsize and the vendor mall has been great.
"I love it," she said.
Mrs. Collum goes to Dusty Door Décor three or four times a week to rearrange her booth or bring new things.
There also is a jeweler, hair salon and paint studio in the facility.
Beverly Mock runs Paintin' Place out of Dusty Door Décor.
Mrs. Mock, 55, of Jacksonville, has been an X-ray technician for 30 years and started painting as a hobby. She uses chalk powder paint to repurpose old furniture and attended classes to learn the techniques as far away as Tennessee because they weren't offered locally, she said.
Mrs. Mock teaches chalk powder paint, as well as transfer painting, stenciling and copper patina and rust. She sells waxes, chalk powder and chalk powder paint.
"It's just a fun thing," she said. "I teach so much more than painting."
She plans to instruct night classes of eight to 10 students once or twice a week at Dusty Door Décor. She also will teach for parties, groups and can do demonstrations throughout East Texas. She teaches classes a couple times a month each at Sweet Pickin's Antique Market in Hawkins and Wall Works by Judy in Jacksonville.
"Beverly is a wonderful instructor," Mrs. Alexander said. "She has so many wonderful ideas."
Mrs. Alexander, 50, of Mixon, jumps in to help with the painting classes when she's needed.
Mrs. Alexander has been making eclectic birdhouses and creating other oddities out of wood to sell in specialty stores for about 30 years. Now that she owns the business, she spends most of her time at the store and said her first priority is to the vendors who rent space from her. She rarely finds time for her birdhouses anymore, but when she does make something, she sells it there.
Her husband, Loy, has been a great encourager and told her she could make the business work, giving her the push she needed to realize her dream. Alexander retired after working at Trane for 28 years and has been a horse farrier for more than 20 years. He helps out at the store some.
Mrs. Alexander grew up in a small town in West Texas. She worked at Wal-Mart for 15 years in Phoenix before moving back to Texas to help care for her late father. Three years ago, she married Alexander and moved with him to his hometown of Mixon. Together, they have six children.
One of her daughters, Nikki Burgener, 28, helps her run the store.
IF YOU GO
Dusty Door Décor: 109 E. Main St. in Whitehouse
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Contact: 903-839-2023; www.facebook.com/dustydoor.decor
Paintin' Place schedule and information: www.facebook.com/thapaintinplace