Scott Cowart, left, and Casey Perkins are partners in the Milestone Trading Co. at Washington and Broad in Albany. Furniture and accesories offered in the store are described as "eclectic or one of a kind."
ALBANY — Scott Cowart started out for a career in finance, and his expertise in the field comes in handy. But his attraction to furniture and his flair for the artistic have drawn him to open the Milestone Trading Company on Washington and Broad in downtown Albany.
Although Cowart grew up in cities such as Orlando, Sarasota and Valdosta, his parents, Ed and Gayle Cowart, are long-time residents of Albany with serious retail histories.
“They were both involved with the downtown areas in the cities where I grew up,” Cowart said. I’m in love with downtown Albany, so it was natural to open the store here.”
After trying for — and missing — a Christmas opening, Cowart happened to meet Casey Perkins, who would become his business partner.
“We became good friends,” Perkins said, “and after he described to me what he was trying to do, I came over a few times to help him move things around.”
Later on, Perkins suggested a name for the new shop which Cowart liked better than the name he’ figured on.
“Milestone Trading Company was more reflective of how I saw the business, and what I wanted to do,” Cowart said.
Perkins, a graphic artist, was employed to create the sign and logo and later impressed Cowart so much with his decorating ability and interest he was invited to buy half the business. Perkins accepted the offer and the owners of Milestone Trading Company feel the “match” is a good one.
“There isn’t anything in the store that either of us can’t do,” Cowart said, “But we both have our strong areas — things where we excel.”
Cowart describes the new business, located in the old Owens Sporting Goods building, as “unlike most other furniture stores,” offering a roughly 50/50 mix of new and “modified” furniture and accessories.
“A little more than half our furniture is new, “Cowart said, but on the “eclectic” side. The rest is “modified” from the way we received it in trade or sale. We’d like people to know that the old, and maybe damaged furniture they have around is not necessarily to be thrown away. We pay a good price for things we can use. We buy things, put together the concept, then incorporate it as an ensemble. We sell mixed items as well.”
Cowart and Perkins said their experience as interior decorators is a major plus when it comes to selling unique furniture and accessories.
“Some of our customers don’t quite know the best use for the items we offer,” Perkins said. “We’ll give them advice, even go to their homes and help them pull it all together.”
Both the owners are avid fans of the Albany Downtown and efforts to help business there. Cowart believes the area may be on the “cusp” of great success, though more can be done to ease the process.
“It would be helpful to have ‘downtown’ living,” Cowart said, “and a more alternative, artistic type of presence and lifestyle to attract people in.”
“A lot of these merchants don’t have enough capital available to really fix up the outsides of their businesses,” Cowart said. “It would be a lot more attractive if we could get some help in that area and to put up some really nice signs. During Mardi Gras, we had a lot of people drop in. They really liked the store and what we offered but had no idea we were here.”