The dilapidated two-story building on the north side of Fort Worth hardly looked like the ideal spot for a boutique furniture store when Megan McDonald first drove by. The metal awning was falling down, the floors had been ripped up and the ceiling was rotted. “It was a dump,” admits McDonald, whose parents, Natalie and Jack, own Into the West Design.
The Western-chic home furnishing retailer’s flagship store in Keller, Texas, has been going strong for more than a decade, but when investors purchased the 7th Street building where Into the West operated in Fort Worth, the family was left searching for a new location.
Although her father was skeptical about the rundown property at 1410 North Main St., McDonald saw the building’s potential and knew the area might become a hot spot as the Trinity River Vision Project gains traction. Developer plans suggest her instincts are on target, and the building’s rich history made it all the more appealing.
“We learned the downstairs was a bank and the upstairs was a brothel,” McDonald says of the white brick edifice, which was built in 1904. Ranchers would sell their livestock at the stockyards, cash their check at the bank and promptly spend their earnings before leaving the building, she notes with a giggle.
The McDonalds went to great lengths to safeguard the original architectural features while renovating the property, hiring contractor and preservationist Brent Hull to oversee the project. (Hull later showcased the property on his show, Lone Star Restoration, on The History Channel.) The family also pulled out all the stops for the grand opening of the new Forth Worth location last spring, with live music, locally brewed beer and an on-site broadcast from local radio station 95.9 The Ranch.
Like its Keller counterpart, the Fort Worth store carries old-world and hacienda-style furniture and home décor that appeals to those with an appreciation of the Lone Star State’s rich heritage. In addition to handcrafted tables, distressed leather sofas and hand-tooled leather chairs, the showroom features vibrant serape blankets and colorful embroidered pillows, antique fixtures, Talavera dishes, and ornately carved bedroom suites. Many items are made by artisans in Mexico, including tooled leather runners and leather pillows, while other pieces have been salvaged from historical homesteads.
“We do a lot with reclaimed wood. We have a lot of old doors. I say everything has a story to tell,” says McDonald, who frequently hosts live sales on Facebook. Although the family-owned retailer specializes in rustic Western-style furnishings, an in-house carpenter is available to build custom pieces, and the proprietors will go the extra mile to bring a customer’s vision to life.
“We can get our hands on anything. We have clients that come in and want something modern, and we can still help them,” says McDonald, adding that Into the West also offers complimentary design services for retail customers and discounts for designers.
Most importantly, however, the McDonald family strives to build long-term relationships. The Fort Worth location features a working bar, a TV and comfortable seating, so husbands can relax and have a drink while their wives browse the showroom. The family also hosts regular sales events with cocktails and prize giveaways. Says McDonald, “We make it more of an experience when people come to shop—you’re not just walking into Nebraska Furniture Mart.”
Customers often will return the hospitality, stopping by just to say hello or drop off cookies. One thankful shopper even brought a roast.
As foot traffic begins to pick up at the new location, the McDonalds are eager to welcome more patrons and showcase the beautiful furniture and accessories inspired by the Old Southwest. McDonald says of the historic Main Street storefront, “Right now, it has to be more of a destination where customers know we’re there, but I think it’s going to be amazing.”
Leslie J. Thompson is a Dallas-based freelance writer with a passion for interior design and a newly discovered fascination with Texas history.