The Upholstery Doctor

Eugene Fewell | May 7th, 2013
Eugene Fewell (Photo by Jarvis Harris)

Eugene Fewell (Photo by Jarvis Harris)

The next time you decide to redecorate your home you may want to think twice about placing your old and used furniture by the curb side. There is someone who is capable of bringing life back into your ill-fated discards. Eugene Fewell is known by many as the “Upholstery Doctor.”

Self-described as a creative, religious and family man, he was born and raised in Greensboro, N.C. and graduated from Walter H. Page High School. While there he developed a love for upholstery. After high school, he attended GTI (now Guilford Technical Community College) and obtained a degree in upholstery and acquired additional skills to upholster cars and boats.

The first item he ever made with his own hands was a bedroom set for his parents wedding anniversary. He was the first African American to receive a G.S.A. contract to reupholster furniture at Fort Bragg, Pope Air Force Base, Camp Lejeune and Shaw Air Force Base. He has also taught the craft of upholstery at Fayetteville Technical Community College. Fewell says he started his business because he loves his craft. “Nothing is more beautiful than taking a badly damaged item and rescuing it. Watching it being restored, layer by layer, to its original or even better condition is what makes my job all worth it,” he says. He is able to recycle old furniture by recovering it with new fabrics, leathers and cushions. “Whatever the costumer needs to make the furniture look better than new,” he says.

Just like the rest of the furniture industry, the upholstery segment has suffered their share of blows from an unstable economy. Fewell says he’s also challenged by overseas imports. “People buy these pieces because of their low cost. However, their frames, fabrics, and paddings are of poor quality,” he says. In other words, it makes more sense to buy furniture that is made in America, or reupholstered by him than from outside our borders. Fewell says his greatest joys come from his family involvement within the business. “When my wife Christine assists me, and also when my son, Gene and my daughter, Tonya allow my grandchildren to help in the shop, it strengthens our family bond,” he says emphatically. “I am blessed to be able to teach them a trade and also a lesson in pride.”

Additionally, he says customer satisfaction is the most important thing he can offer to anyone. He is inspired by other design companies, artwork that has various styles, and also patterns. The typical cost of a restored piece by the Upholstery Doctor depends on the piece itself, materials and labor. The turnaround time is usually three to four weeks.

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