When Linda and Wendell Ferguson started their Waynesville business, Work Boots & More, it was because of the simple fact there was no place to buy the needed boots locally.
The large number of factory workers, linemen, carpenters and others in Haywood who regularly needed steel-toed safety boots or other serviceable work shoes has been the bread and butter for their business and allowed the store to grow.
When the couple kept hearing from members in the medical and emergency services community that they had to travel outside Haywood to find scrubs, they decided to expand their store offerings once again.
“We had been thinking about it for several months, then we had to decide whether we would roll up our sleeves and spend the money,” explained Linda Ferguson. “You have to pay for the inventory upfront, so it was a leap of faith.”
Just like the other product lines available at Work Boots & More, the Fergusons researched the market to find out who made the highest quality and best selling scrubs. The store now carries all the top lines.
“We tried to order Carhartt, (yes, the company makes scrubs — and ones that are supposed to be the very best) but they have nothing available until July,” she said.
The scrubs come not only in a variety of brands, but differ in styles and color, too. Before the inventory was even unpacked, customers were flocking to the new shelving that was built to showcase the new line of merchandise.
In order to fin yet more merchandise in the store at 53 Frazier St. in Waynesville, the counter space was reduced, but everything fit nicely, she said.
Long history of service
It was 18 years ago when Linda Ferguson was cleaning houses and Wendell Ferguson was mowing lawns that one of their customers mentioned they should buy the building that has grown into a busy retail area.
One side was a garage and the other half became the store, but as business grew, the entire area is now a retail area. In 2007, the work boot inventory was expanded slightly into a women’s shoe line — crocs, a wildly popular comfort shoe that came in all sorts of colors and sizes.
From there, athletic shoes were added, and women’s fashion styles grew to take up more shelves and become about a third of the business. Clothing, purses, belts, wallets and other products were added along the way..
In keeping with the philosophy of striving to offer American-made products, Work Boots & More buyer Tammy Sutton made sure the store had the top lines in the market for all products in stock.
Sutton is the Ferguson’s daughter, and Sutton’s two daughters, Jaden and Jaycee, work in the store, too, keeping it all in the family.
Through the years, Linda Ferguson has made sure she only buys items shown to her by factory reps.
“I’m very conservative,” Linda Ferguson said. “We don’t buy on credit, and I want to be able to buy products I can see and touch. Things can look really good in pictures, but the pictures just don’t work for us.”
During the pandemic when factory reps weren’t available, Sutton and her mother decided to buy some women’s shoes that turned out to be something neither felt their customers would like.
Since the store was considered essential because of the type of products in stock, however, the shoes sold just fine, a development they attributed to other stores being closed and a shortage of inventory elsewhere.
Linda Ferguson’s philosophy is to keep prices below the suggested retail price and provide superior customer service — even if it requires adding new lines customers can’t find elsewhere in the county.