Laura and Lucas Hannah travel across the country to sell people a Texas look.
They own Cowhide Western Furniture, which builds customized ranch-style furniture to customers looking for a high-end sofa or table that will anchor a room with its rustic feel. The Corinth residents have run the company as a manufacturing and wholesale operation, selling at various stock shows in places like Colorado and Nevada. They have a factory in Denton, and another in Lewisville.
Now they’re ready to bring their business to downtown Denton.
In early May, the building at 207 N. Elm St. that was once Barefoot Campus Outfitter and most recently the storefront for The ZigZag Stripe women’s clothing boutique will be the first retail location for Cowhide.
At a time when people are increasingly shopping online, Laura said she and her husband are putting together a retail outlet that will give customers the chance to get hands-on with the products they’re trying to buy.
"People still like to touch and feel, especially furniture," she said. "They like to see the detail."
The furniture they sell is not cheap. The customers they usually attract drop big money. A lot of detail goes into the kind of furniture Cowhide sells. Think big and Texas — turquoise-colored leather sofas with cowhide on the arms. Really it can be any number of colors and materials. They also make chairs and kitchen tables, stools and the like.
By using a customization software, customers can pick and choose what kind of material they want to cover the piece. Same for the colors and various cowhides in stock. Laura said a lot of people like to customize their furnitures with their ranch’s brand. Cowhide can do that, too. In-store shoppers can build their pieces on a 55-inch touch-screen TV, or on some of the computer tablets the Hannahs will have about the store. And they can also do it online.
Because the usual customers are in the market for a very particular design of the product, and looking to achieve a certain feel to their rooms, Cowhide’s customers often want to know exactly what it will look like before they spend thousands.
"It’s kinda like putting paint on the wall," Lucas said. "It’s not until you get that wall painted that you go, ‘Oh, that’s not what I was looking at.’ With the system, they can get a good visual of what they’re doing."
The Hannahs first started in the furniture business when mega retailer-manufacturer Leather Center was still in business. When it finally went out of business in 2002, the couple started working for themselves, becoming one of several local furniture outlets that spun off from the Leather Center collapse.
"This is the first time that we’ve had an actual showroom," Laura said. "We took the rustic side of what they were starting to do when the business closed."
Laura said once the retail operation gets off its feet, the company will roll out some cheaper furniture options as well, to accommodate not only the niche shoppers, but the apartment-shuffling college crowd, too.