Recently retired Army veteran Jeff Brotherton opened Mudpuppy Furniture on Old Cullowhee Road. Mudpuppy Furniture is what Brotherton describes as a used and re-purposed furniture store.
According to Brotherton, after he retired from a 33-year military career in December of 2012, he spent a little time “taking it easy.” During this time, Brotherton decided that he wanted to get involved in the Cullowhee community and do something that benefited it. Brotherton saw a need in the area to “provide affordable furniture for students, apartment dwellers and other people.”
Originally from the town of Stanley located in Gaston County, Brotherton graduated from WCU in 1985. After he graduated, Brotherton was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant. While he was in the military, Brotherton traveled a lot and spent a year in Iraq in 2011.
What brought Brotherton back to Cullowhee was the fact that both he and his wife attended WCU in the 1980s and fell in love with the Cullowhee area. They both expressed the desire to come back to Cullowhee at some point in their life. After he retired from the military, Brotherton and his wife bought a house in Cullowhee, and they have lived here since then.
“Our dream has come true,” Brotherton said.
Mudpuppy Furniture is currently what Brotherton considers a “one-person operation” as well as a family business. Brotherton is the owner of the store and spends most of his time there during the day. His wife helps him out. He also has other people that come and help him from time to time. Brotherton added that he has some students work for him as well.
Brotherton’s favorite part of his job is taking furniture and re-purposing it into something. According to Brotherton, he enjoys visualizing what a piece of furniture will look like by “adding or taking away something and making it look functional and fun and kind of upbeat.”
Brotherton’s goals for Mudpuppy Furniture include expanding their current line into more re-purposed and recycled furniture. Brotherton expressed that they aim to be a green facility and “provide cost-effective and alternative solutions” for the Cullowhee community.
Brotherton is married with two adult children. His son is a WCU alumnus. Outside of his store, Brotherton enjoys spending time with family, fly fishing and traveling with his wife. One of his favorite places to travel is Europe, where he has spent a lot of time.
“I love the history in Europe, and just traveling around, and just seeing different places,” Brotherton said.
Along with his work with Mudpuppy Furniture, Brotherton also teaches two online classes at Western Carolina in emergency and disaster management programs. Brotherton expressed that he enjoys staying up-to-date on what is happening in the world of emergency securities.
In regards to Mudpuppy Furniture, Brotherton expressed how he is thankful with the type of welcome they have received.
“We are very thankful with the way we have been welcomed by both the college community, the students, faculty, staff, Cullowhee residents, people coming from near and far. So it’s always a welcome to see people coming in and out of the store and find out where they’re from, what they’re interested in,” Brotherton said.