Lisa Lee
Contributing Writer

(Photo by Lisa Lee: Richard and Judy inside the store in Eaton Rapids.)

Smith’s Upholstery of Eaton Rapids has been recovering furniture for half a century. It all started in 1973, when Richard Smith returned home to Eaton Rapids after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. Looking for a new career, Richard turned to his high school employer, Ernie Fulton. At that time, Fulton’s Upholstery was located downtown. Mr. Fulton was ready to retire, so he sold the business to Mr. Smith.
Smith relocated the equipment to his shop off Waverly Road. For years, the business thrived with commercial contracts for chair upholstery for many large businesses including MSU, the State of Michigan, Sparrow and Ingham Hospitals. With nine employees, the shop was in a constant hum from seamstresses sewing and tack hammers in motion.
A visit to Smith’s office is a brush with a vibrant past. His walls are lined with photographs and mementos of his many accomplishments. Several photos are of his seamstresses’ bowling league, who happened to win several championship tournaments in the 1980s. Trophies adorn another wall, won from tractor pulls in Leslie. Smith has earned many accolades from local community groups for his years of service in the Kiwanis Club, Boy Scouts, and from serving as president for the Eaton Rapids Chamber of Commerce.
Not much has changed in the upholstery business, staple guns have replaced most of the hand tacks, and spray glues make the work much faster. The focus of the business has shifted from commercial to residential. Richard Smith and his wife, Judy, now work the shop by themselves. The quality of their work is impeccable. No web site is needed as the quality of their work speaks for itself. Almost all of their customers come from referrals from past clients they have serviced.
Keep this number handy should you ever find yourself in need of their services, (517)663-6211. They repair or replace cushions and upholstery for antiques and modern furniture. In the shop is a display room with books of fabric swatches to select from. Smith’s replacement foam cushions have flame retardant, and the fabrics are stain resistant.
Their services include zipper replacement and seam repair. If your cushion has begun to sag, they can put its bounce back. They can even replace a pet-stained cushion.
Congratulations to Smith’s Upholstery for 50 years of quality workmanship.