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Picking Up Where The Past Left Off

Sometimes things were tight for Lyndsay Abel when she was growing up in north Huntsville. She’s the second youngest of six daughters, so there were a lot of hand-me-downs. Lyndsay took it in stride, though, using her already creative nature to remake her clothes into something different or more fashionable. There was something about taking an old item and repurposing it that Lyndsay carried with her through adulthood, and she returned to it when she decided to open a booth at University Pickers. It is a booth full of signs and furniture made from reclaimed wood and architectural salvage.

All Under One Roof

Lyndsay owns The Moonlighter—a gospel-centered business that lets her work from home while still using her talents for what she believes in. She’s the go-to person for Christian-themed, rustic signs and custom painted furniture.

But she’s not the only vendor at University Pickers who goes back to their roots for inspiration. Pete Woodward owns The Lone Cabbage, a woodworking booth he describes as a mix of “southern, make-do-with-what-you-have, country, costal Florida and farmhouse.” Pete can trace his lineage back to some of the pioneers who settled in central Florida and now uses that history for inspiration in his work. His ancestors had to get by with things they already had—the same kinds of things Pete repurposes to use in his works.

Pete’s Florida upbringing also comes out in his handcrafted canoes and kayaks. In fact (because you’re probably wondering), The Lone Cabbage booth gets its name from a fishing spot he went to as a child.

One of his most popular pieces is the farmhouse table—he’s currently working on six in preparation for Thanksgiving dinners all over the area—but it’s the humble beginnings of the farmhouse table that sparks Pete’s creativity.

“The old farmhouse table was the workbench of the home,” Pete said. “Everything that took place inside the home took place at that table. They ate there, prayed there, sewed there and painted things there.”

Lyndsay and Pete both repurpose items to give them new life, but they do it differently. Pete said it’s that difference in the vendors that makes University Pickers such a great place to shop.

“Pickers is a goldmine for shoppers because you can see everything from handcrafted metal work or woodworking, faux finishes on antiques or real antiques to window treatments, all in the same place,” Pete said. “There are some really creative repurposed pieces, like an old rake that people have found and turned it into a clothes rack.”

University Pickers is owned by sisters Cindi Pope and Trish Gleason. In addition to Lyndsay and Pete, the 12,000-square-foot store hosts more than 115 vendors who set up booths and bring in their handmade or reclaimed treasures for shoppers.

Trish and Cindy track the booth owners’s sales for the vendors so they don’t have to be on-site during open hours. Many have full-time jobs and stock their booths on the weekends.

And that’s the beauty of a place like University Pickers. Pickers staff take care of the business side, leaving the vendors with the time and freedom to work, take care of little ones, or in the case of one retired couple, travel.

Passion For Small Businesses

These days, Lyndsay’s life sounds like something off of Pinterest. She paints sought-after works of art in her home studio while her two, beautiful children Todd, 5, and Marty, 1, play nearby.

Lyndsay married her high school sweetheart David and worked several part-time jobs before buying a paint-your-own pottery studio at the age of 23. She said it sparked a passion for small-business owners that carried over into her partnership with University Pickers.

“It really lit a fire in me to be more passionate about small businesses and encouraging people who want to do that because it’s not as hard as you think it is, especially if it’s something you’re good at and you care about, and you don’t mind putting in all the hours.”

The Moonlighter booth at University Pickers has earned Lindsay a reputation as someone who can grasp the whole rustic look so in style today and turn a vision into something beautifully tangible. Her church recently commissioned her to do a sign for their children’s area then turned around and offered her a job as assistant creative director. Lyndsay now gets to go to her job at church and see the sign she made—one of her favorite pieces she’s ever done.

“I really hope that my signs are being used as gifts or encouragers or reminders for someone who may be in a dark time,” Lyndsay said.

Pete also thinks about the way his pieces make people feel inside their own homes. His style reflects a time when things were more simple, when items in the home served a useful purpose rather than decoration.

“It’s a lifestyle,” Pete said. “It’s comfortable. It’s things I grew up with. I think decorating should be about making you feel at home in your own space.”

Lyndsay stocks her booth with canvas work, hand-lettering products, dish towels and painted furniture while Pete focuses on woodworking. While they both have their hands full—Lyndsay with two boys and her job at church and Pete with his custom woodworking business—they don’t show any signs of slowing down at University Pickers—partly because of the way the store’s owners operate.

“It’s been really neat to see Trish and Cindy and their heart for people and how they use that as a motivator for what they do in their business,” Lyndsay said. “I really am passionate about that. If you’re going to have a small business, it needs to be full of heart…They’re spreading light and love in the city.”

You can check out Lyndsay and Pete’s work at University Pickers or on Facebook at The Moonlighter or The Lone Cabbage.

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