In 2004, when Pam and Mack Thorpe realized their dream and opened The Rusty Bucket in historic downtown Apex, NC, they had a vision of an old country store from long ago that people would walk into and feel welcome and comfortable. And the two wanted to provide all of the furnishings and accessories that would help create warm and cozy country homes. Now, 10 years later, it's easy to see that Pam and Mack have succeeded beautifully!
From the fully restored 1930 Model A truck that is often parked outside to the covered porch built from the wood and tin of an old tobacco barn to authentic aged barn wood floors that welcome you with a creak to the warm glow of the fireplace in the back corner Keeping Room, they all come together to provide you with a shopping experience that you won’t find anywhere else in the area.
The Rusty Bucket carries American Country, with a mixture of old and new. The store is packed with: American country, early American, primitives, folk art, antiques and reproductions, candles, tarts and warmers, lighting, signs, wall art by Billy Jacobs, tinware, locally made handcrafted one of a kind stitchery and dolls, hand painted gourds, barn stars, NC food products, birdhouses, horsehair pottery, handcrafted jewelry, wingback chairs, settles and upholstery fabric by Dunroven House and Lancer and rockers by Troutman Chair, of NC. Painted pine furniture can be custom made without the custom price and there is seasonal decor. Home makeover consultations are available.
There are 1850s handcrafted reproduction appliances by Elmira Stoveworks, and it’s not surprising to find cookies being baked in the reproduction 1850s stove in the back along with hot cider in the winter and lemonade in the summer, free for the sampling. There's even an old-fashioned candy counter.
Pam and Mack take monthly "picking trips" looking for "the unique, the incredible and the inspiring," all those one of a kind treasures—including American Country, primitive and antique finds—that fit so well in The Rusty Bucket. They also go to market and rely on local crafters to help keep the store's offerings fresh and interesting. When the Thorpes are away, they have several great people that they can depend on—Debbie, Jennifer and Kris—to make customers feel welcome.
Pam says, "Back when the economy started to slow down, we started seeking out local craftspeople — stitchers, quilters, folk artist, furniture makers. Over time, we found more crafters around the country that we rely on to provide us with one of a kind exclusive items that our customers are not going to find at any other shop in town. While we have to rely on some imports, it's our goal to carry as much “Made in the USA” as possible."
Back in the mid 1980s, Pam fell in love with primitives — first for their durability with two wild little boys and then for the simplicity. Her first real primitive was an early 1800s farm table (that she still has) and she would sit at that table and wonder who had sat at it before her and what their lives had been. She was hooked. Facing a forced career change, Pam decided to follow her heart and Mack followed her passion and made it his, also.
Pam explains, "We started looking for a place to build our dream and fell in love with Historic Downtown Apex. The town is known as being one of the most intact railroad and farm towns in the state. At the time we moved here ten years ago, there were still some boarded up buildings but what was here was charming. In the past ten years, those boarded up buildings have been renovated, shops and restaurants have moved in and the downtown is thriving. Just this past fall, Apex was named by CNN and Money Magazine as one of the Top Ten Places to Live in the country and the Number 1 in North and South Carolina. Our downtown and the festivals that the town and merchants orchestrate are a large part of that popularity."
The Thorpes are proud of two honors they have received since they opened. In 2007, they were selected as Country Business Magazine’s “National Retailer of the Year,” and the Apex Chamber of Commence selected The Rusty Bucket as their “Small Business of the Year – 2012.”
One of the more exciting things happening for the shop right now is that a local filmmaker is producing a TV show targeting kids in the 3-14 year old range. It’s a time-travel show where kids living in the fictional town of Peak City (aka Apex) find out from their grandfather—who owns The Rusty Bucket general store—that their destiny is to travel back in time and keep history on track. The show is licensing the store's name and will be called “History’s Heroes—The Rusty Bucket Kids.”
Pam invites you to come visit their store—they're waiting to make you welcome. She says, "We feel so blessed to have this shop and the customers who havebecome our extended family. We want our customers to be happy with their purchases, experience and us. We have a 'no questions asked' return policy. Oursign over the front door says 'Enter as Strangers, Leave as Friends' and we truly mean that!"
The Rusty Bucket is located at 104-A N. Salem Street in Apex. For more information, call 919-290-2575 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the store's interesting website at www.therustybucket.biz to stay updated and to find out what it means to be a “Buckethead.” You can also "Like" them on Facebook.