By Maggie Ingram
Southern State Rustic Helps Build God’s Kingdom
The right table or rug in a room can make a huge impact on the feel of a space, but the furniture at Southern State Rustic Furniture and Accessories makes an impact that goes far beyond the four walls of a home.
“My ultimate goal here is impacting people in a Christian way,” said Southern State Rustic owner Sidney Smith of Madison. He opened the furniture store in October 2016 after spending years going on mission trips and helping missionaries, church planters, and ministries set up businesses abroad. About five years ago, he met Floyd VanDeburgh who helped found Strategic Impact Ministries.
Strategic Impact is a Texas-based ministry that sends career missionaries and short-term missions teams to train local pastors in foreign countries to preach the gospel and plant churches. The ministry has planted more than 1,000 churches in Africa and Latin America. VanDeburgh had a friend who offered to help supply furniture to help fund the ministry, so he and Smith got to work on a business model. This is his first U.S.-based business that he has helped build that specifically supports missionaries or a ministry.
“A store like this takes entrepreneurship and capitalism to a kingdom level,” Smith said. “This is the kind of business model where you’re not doing it to make money, you’re doing it to give money.
“It’s a huge difference.”
Smith said that he has two goals for Southern State Rustic. One is to create a sustainable income stream to support the mission organization. “This alleviates some of the stress and pressure of constant fundraising,” he said. Second, he hopes to eventually work with other ministries in the Jackson metro area that provide inner city ministry, plant local churches, and other organizations that spread the gospel.
“I know the sales will come, but I’m more concerned about the impact of what we do beyond the business aspect of it,” Smith said. “Business is the easy part. Building relationships and spreading those relationships throughout the globe are what drives us.”
Chris Moody serves as connection coordinator for the store and considers their philanthropy as the most attractive part of the business model and what attracted him to work there. “When we do missions, we may go on a mission trip, we go into a country and build a well or conduct a sports camps and then we leave,” he said. “The question is what did we leave? Are the people we worked with equipped to carry on the work?
“Ministries like Strategic Impact are answering that question with yes. They are equipping local people who speak the language and who are familiar with the culture to spread the gospel.”
The furniture in the store is handmade in Mexico with 100 percent Brazilian pine and can fit any room of the house, from bedroom to dining to living. Customers can choose from various furniture lines including Traditional Rustic, Ponderosa, and Cabana. Moody added that pieces can be personalized, “We have an artist who can add chalk paint or distressing to a piece if a customer wants that,” he said.
They also sell home accessories, and they say the cowhide rugs are their best seller.
“It’s true rustic furniture, no particle board or plywood,” Smith said. “People who buy this buy it to last. We know it’s real wood because we load every piece of it off the trucks, and they are very sturdy pieces.”
Smith said that the story behind the furniture has been what has attracted their customers. “They like that when they buy furniture, they know it’s going to have an impact around the world,” he said.
Southern State Rustic is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Their store has been located on Ridgewood Road in Ridgeland, but will be moving to their new location in Pearl at the beginning of April. Smith said moving near other furniture stores on Highway 80 in Pearl, affectionately known as Furniture Row, is a smart move. “Moving there is just what our store needs in order to get the drop-in, pass-by traffic on Highway 80,” he said.
He hopes to add a second location either in the Tupelo or Oxford area or the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Maggie Ingram lives in Madison with her husband and three children. She is a homemaker and loves a good book. Feel free to contact her at email@example.com.