When Mary Ragon was asked how and why she started Ragon House, she began her story...
“I’ve always loved antiques – I’m not sure why, I didn’t grow up with them, it’s just something I was drawn to when we were trying to furnish our home – with 5 kids, on a teacher’s salary,” tells Mary. In one way or another she had been involved in the Antiques/Reproductions business since the early 1980’s. After visiting Colonial Williamsburg she found herself in an adorable “country shop”, unlike anything she had ever seen. After returning, the topic of opening a store kept resurfacing and somehow they were able to open their first shop, The Salt Box Country Store, in Canton, Ohio.
There was nothing like it anywhere, so naturally the business grew quickly. “We doubled the size in no time and 7 years down the road as we were on the verge of having 5 teenagers (YIKES!), we decided to sell our beloved shop, with the thought of opening a smaller shop down the road sometime,” said Mary. Eventually they did open another store but this time the shop was housed in the 1880’s barn of their little farm and they called it “Ragon House”. “We had totally gutted and renovated the 1887 farmhouse and during Christmas Open Houses, we welcomed people to tour our 5 bedroom, 3 floor home. To this day, we occasionally have people drive up our long lane, thinking the shop is still there,” reflects Mary.
By this point it was 1995 and two of Mary’s brothers, Paul and John Jamieson of Jamieson Studios were exhibiting at the Market Square Show in Valley Forge. “I got the bright idea to give wholesale a try, so in February 1996, we did our first Valley Forge show in a 5’x10’ booth!” states Mary. They made only one product at that first show - hand stenciled band boxes. They also brought a handful of signs made by a friend. The show went great and they had to rush home and start painting boxes. At each show after that, their booth size grew until they ended up in their current 20’x50’ space. Ragon House also has a permanent showroom at the Americasmart in Atlanta, and they exhibit at Market Square, Dallas, Columbus, and have sales reps throughout the country.
Through the years Mary’s kids have helped in various aspects of the business until they were at the point where they had a major decision to make. “I had seen it coming for several years and had started networking and asking as many questions as I could to anyone who would listen.” The big dilemma was: to produce offshore or not? “It became apparent that we really had no choice if we wanted to stay in business, as most companies in our field had already begun the process,” Mary said. It was at that time that Mary’s youngest child, Josh, had just graduated from college with a business degree. Much to his dismay, he was having a difficult time finding employment in his field. He made a pitch to Mary as to why she should hire him. “I never told him this, but with all of our upcoming changes it was a perfect time to bring him on.” Mary continues “we had a tremendous growth spurt after that and Josh likes to remind us all that it was all his doing. At this point, Josh is head of operations and my daughter, Carrie, has jumped in and has been painting and designing for us for a while.”
Carrie and Mary create most of the designs at Ragon House. Designing 90% of their products themselves and licensing a few very talented artists to round out their line. “Even though it can be a huge challenge to create designs in this ever-changing industry, Carrie and I love what we do. We love to scour antique shows, sales, shops and flea markets for inspiration. We feel that it is truly “our job” to always bring a fresh and current spin to an old idea. We are told often that our line has a “different” look from all the rest, which we take as a true compliment, “said Mary.
Aside from designing, Carrie plays a major role in designing their booths and showroom as well as coordinating their product catalog. This past January, Ragon House was awarded the “Best of Floor – for Outstanding Visual Display” for the 7th Floor at the Atlanta Americasmart. This was quite an honor considering the competition on their floor.
“I’m happy to say we have now entered our 17th year in business – it’s been a real roller coaster ride but we so appreciate our loyal customers who have ridden along beside us.” Mary continues, “we strive to continually improve our services and introduce a fresh product line to inspire our wonderful shop owners who continue on this journey with us.” When all is said and done, it is the small country businesses that are always so loyal and greatly contribute to the growth and success of Ragon House.
A big part of Ragon House’s growth has been their ability to evolve with the needs of their customers. What started out to be a totally “primitive” product line has now evolved to their current offerings of vintage, farmhouse, Euro-inspired and antique, as well as a large collection of holiday and floral.
AWARDS :: AmericasMart’s Visual Display Awards Underscore Creative Excellence
ATLANTA, January 18, 2013
AmericasMart® celebrated the visual presentation achievements of permanent and temporary exhibitors showing in its January 2013 Markets with awards recognizing superior designs across all product collections and categories. Adjudication during The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market® and The Atlanta International Area Rug Market® featuring the National Oriental Rug Show Jan. 9-16, 2013 yielded Visual Display Awards (VDAs) for 33 permanent showrooms and 20 temporary exhibits, including a Best of Show in the Temporaries. Independent design and visual merchandising experts, with decades of experience, selected the winners. The January 2013 VDA winners, with judges’ comments are:
• Floor 7
Ragon House Collection 784
A visit to great grandmother’s attic is the ambiance created through low-light, antique furnishings on wood planked floor appointed with aged rugs. Spotlighted areas break up the quiet and attract attention.