Our history is as rich and deep as the Mississippi Delta soil that the Paul Michael Company was established on. Founded in 1993, our flagship store in Lake Village, AR is situated across from the beautiful Lake Chicot and quite literally, in a cotton field!
For most, it’s a bit of a mystery as to how and why a company such as a Paul Michael’s began in a town such as Lake Village, AR and has since expanded to Louisiana and Texas, so allow us to tell you more about the man and woman behind the business, as this is a family affair.
Paul Michael, who lent his name to the business, is the third generation of his family to be born and raised in the rural, Mississippi Delta town of Lake Village, AR. His grandfather was one of the first merchants in the area; he traveled levee camps with a mule and sold pots, pans, threads, and other necessities to the levee workers. With a family of 6 daughters and a wife to support, he opened one of Lake Village’s first department stores, Mansour’s on Main Street, which remained for over eighty years. Paul worked in his grandfather’s department store as a young adult where it became evident that he possessed a natural gift in the art of buying, selling and trading. During the 70's, Paul fostered this gift by buying antiques and selling them to the chain restaurant T.G.I Friday’s. During this stage in Paul’s life is when he met his wife Debbie in Nashville. Debbie had grown up traveling around the country in the five-and-dime merchants’ tradition. Over 30 years ago, Paul went hunting for antiques in Debbie’s antique clothing store, Betty Boop’s, which was filled with antique furniture, jewelry and more. As one of the first vintage clothing stores in the country, Betty Boop’s reigned as the go-to place to outfit the stars in one-of-a-kind threads. Their dates included scouring antique shops for treasures and their personalities seemed as good a fit as their individual business savvy and talents. Almost immediately a bond was formed and a business was born. Although it was unknown what the future may hold, their mutual love for discovery and design was evident and in the spirit of true treasure hunters, the two took their talent on the road.
Before falling in love with Debbie, he fell in love with First Monday Trade Days in Canton, TX, first selling Indian jewelry and gold. It is there that he established many contacts that he still maintains relationships with to this day. He contacted Debbie about this great idea for a jewelry line, gold plated leaves, and the business and romance was rekindled. This line of jewelry ended up in every major department store. They eventually married, had children and evolved the business into what it is today. Notably, another major success occurred in the late 80’s when Paul uncovered antique tools and dies executed by European engravers between 1890 and 1900 while treasure hunting in Rhode Island. Read more about Opinions by Paul Michael here, that’s a story in itself!
Paul’s ventures into the jewelry trade led him abroad, where he first saw potential in the home decorative accessories market. One of the first items he imported was a gold leafed Christmas angel that was placed in major department stores. “Our growth has been remarkable,” Debbie says, “and our customers come from all over the area.” Debbie credits a number of factors when it comes to their success. Basically big box stores “offer no surprises or service,” of which the Paul Michael Company has plenty of. On top of that, Paul and Debbie work hard to keep quality high and costs low. They pass along any savings onto their customers. “We want our store to be creative, kooky and fun. We want our customers to find items here that they can’t find anywhere else,” Debbie says. A good example of that would be the oddities and antiques that they discover on their buying trips and incorporate into the regular mix of merchandise. They feel it adds interest and credibility to their business philosophy. Now that there are three additional locations, expanding to Monroe, LA in 2003, and three years later in Canton, TX and in 2009 in Lafayette, LA, both Paul and Debbie agree a good product mix and staff are paramount.
Recognizing a shift in the marketplace, the decline of the American dollar, as well as the need to recycle; the Paul Michael Company began its’ biggest endeavor to date by manufacturing its’ own line of accessories and furniture that Paul designs. He felt that the only way the company would be able to separate itself from the market would be to create its’ own line of exclusive items that Paul feels will be the antiques of tomorrow. Today we refer to these original designs as Paul’s World ~reclaim, reuse, recycle, redecorate~ everything is 100% American made and the majority of items are constructed of architectural salvage and reclaimed wood that Paul has been collecting for years. The first thing that was manufactured was a cutting board inspired by an oval 1950’s Gerber cutting board that he found, where else but a flea market. In Dermott, AR the Paul Michael Company now has a woodshop buzzing 7 days a week, developing, manufacturing and designing amazing pieces for your home.
Today the Paul Michael Company wants you to feel like you’re part of our family. Come be the treasure hunter, the entertainer, the hostess and the decorator that reflects Paul and his family’s lifestyle. Visit any of our locations and experience what everyone has been talking about!