By Hollie Deese
Photography by Reeves Smith
It’s hard to believe the totally renovated showroom was once an RJ Young distribution center, but an inset scale, a remnant from the past, was preserved in the remodel to commemorate what was once there. And in a city that is changing as fast as Nashville, that’s important.
It’s also why it is important for longtime businesses like Myers Flooring, now in its 62nd year in business, to stay involved in the design community in Nashville while maintaining the core character of their companies. So owners and brothers Ray and Rick Myers have created a showroom experience like none other for their customers — right in the heart of Nashville’s Design District.
“We felt like this was the spot we needed to be,” says Doug Peeples, Myers Flooring Nashville manager.
In 1957 their father, Gene, founded the company in Dalton, Georgia — the city’s first carpet retail wholesale business. They traveled to carpet mills to buy their poundage and brought it back to Myers to make throw rugs and runners. Rick was just 5 years old, and he tells of how his father had worked for J M Ferry, a company that supplied cutting machines to the carpet industry. He then learned to work a binding machine and the serging machine himself.
Now, among the showrooms in Atlanta and Dalton and Nashville, Rick can’t think of any major line of floor covering they don’t have.
When Gene passed away in 1981, at age 53, Rick was just 29. He was then in the hospitality industry, having worked at Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Atlanta from the day it opened. Ray was at Auburn University, studying to design furniture.
But both brothers knew you needed family to run a family business. Their mother, Evelyn, was good at buying. She took over, and she was one of the only female business owners in Dalton at the time.
“I was a competitor of theirs then, and she was very savvy,” Peeples says. “She would really drive a deal and didn’t take a back seat to guys.”
By 1984 Rick had left Peachtree to come home to Myers, and a year later Ray joined him – but as a young single guy right out of college, he had plans bigger than Dalton, Georgia.
“Somehow I talked Mom and Rick into letting me go to Atlanta to open up a satellite showroom,” he says. He started with the basic carpets that had been popular in Dalton, but things weren’t clicking.
So when a man came in and showed him high-end wool at $100 a yard, he took the risk and pulled the trigger. It totally paid off. One day shortly thereafter, a member of the Woodruff family — owners of The Coca-Cola Company — came into the showroom and ordered that carpet for her whole house.
“From that day on, anything I could get that was unusual I did, and that separated us from the Dalton game,” he says.
It was a decision that helped pave the way for even more growth for the company, saving them when the recession took out competitors and eventually enabling them to keep expanding.
“The best decision we ever made was to go higher and separate ourselves from everybody else,” Rick says.
In 2012 they added Hollywood to their roster of clients, after a set designer for “Anchorman II” came in looking for a ’70s-era orange shag rug and some lime-green carpet. Myers delivered, and since then they have provided flooring for “The Internship,” “Dumb and Dumber II,” episodes seven and eight of the “Fast and Furious” franchise, “Pitch Perfect” and “Pitch Perfect 2,” “Black Panther” and “Stranger Things.”
“The Marvel movie bought $45,000 worth of hardwood floors from us and blew it all to hell in an explosion,” Rick says.
Moving to Music City
In doing research into where they should expand, they learned that Nashville had the second highest per-capita income in the Southeast. The vibe of Music City was not dissimilar to Atlanta, and they thought their high-end lines would work well here.
“It felt good,” Ray says of making the move.
In 1998 they opened the store on Lafayette, and in 2001 they bought the old Carpet Barn on Division Street. They operated out of that location — behind Frugal MacDoogal Liquor Warehouse — until 2016 when they decided to sell some of their 3-acre lot.
When the city announced they were going to build a bridge to connect to the other part of town, real estate prices went through the roof. Everyone around them started selling, and they joined them.
“We counted 16 cranes from our windows looking out, right there,” Ray says.
They knew they wanted to build in the Design District, and they committed to looking for just the right space. On Feb. 1, 2016, Myers Carpet closed on ownership of the assets of Nashville Carpet Center, purchasing them from owner Van Gilmore.
“When we bought it, we knew that the two showrooms needed to go to a different location,” Rick says. “He was in a warehouse on Fourth, and we were having trouble finding a spot. We moved our warehouse in with his warehouse on Fourth and had a separate warehouse location, which was very difficult for us.”
Operating out of their warehouse on Fontana, they would look over at the RJ Young building and commiserate that they needed something just like that space, never dreaming it would be an option. And then suddenly luck shined upon them, and it was.
“One night we were having dinner at Brick Tops, kind of a celebratory thing having just completed this move,” Peeples says. “We’re sitting there and we’re just talking like guys do about Little League Baseball and business. I guess we were just close enough to where this guy could hear us, and he said, ‘Y’all are who?’”
Turns out that guy was friends with the owner of the RJ Young building and knew he was almost ready to sell. A few months later he walked into Myers’ door and asked if they were still interested. Rick and Ray met with him the following week, and they shook on a deal.
Ray put his design skills to work on the concept of the new showroom, transforming the 1950s building with a new roof, new HVAC and a sleek design center of all glass and steel — designed so customers can see every sample and the work being done to it.
And just like Gene did back in the day, serging runners in his work room, the showpiece at Myers is their work room. Its air table, designed by Ray, is so large you can take any sample in the showroom, any roll of carpet they have, and make hall runners, staircase runners and any size custom rug, right on site.
“The work rooms are very important to us in all three stores,” Rick says. “If somebody sees us working on a $100 a yard carpet out here, they have more confidence in us that we can do the right thing.”
It shows that they aren’t trying to hide anything, that they want their customers to have the utmost confidence in them. After all, it is their name on the delivery trucks out front facing all the other design businesses.
“When you see somebody, your neighbor, with the Myers Flooring truck it gives a little more confidence,” Rick says. “Our name is our brand.”
And Gene would be proud.