Woodbury’s High Cotton Connects Community to the Past
The small town of Woodbury in Meriwether County has developed a unique niche over the past few years, transforming the area into a destination that not only attracts visitors from around the southeast but also gives enthusiasts a way to connect with the past. Though only 900 residents strong, Woodbury is now known as the antique mecca of Georgia. United Bank business customer High Cotton is a cornerstone of the “antique trail” which runs straight through downtown, and current owners Derenda and Greg Moore have realized the perks of running such a unique business in one of the Bank’s smaller markets.
“We are fortunate to be located on a route which is a main thoroughfare for people traveling to and from Florida,” said Derenda. “Cathy Crouch founded High Cotton 13 years ago and since then, we’ve seen more and more antique stores pop up in the area giving local customers and visitors an even larger selection for their browsing pleasure.
“Many of our customers vacation in Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain or FDR state park and come to Woodbury to make a day out of antiquing,” she continued. “We also attract regular customers from Thomaston, Senoia, Manchester, Greenville, LaGrange and even Alabama. It’s been amazing to watch the growth of the area around such a community-centric retail concept. Plus, the increased foot traffic drives business for others including our local restaurants.”
The Moores had their own booth within High Cotton for seven years before they purchased the store from Crouch in 2021. They’ve been collectors themselves for more than a decade.
“We’ve always had an appreciation for history and for the emotions antiques can inspire,” said Derenda. “I love to learn the stories behind the pieces we sell. We do our very best to relay those stories to our customers so they can have a little more perspective on its history, especially if it is local.”
The 15,000 square foot High Cotton building, now home to 36 antique dealers across 46 booths, is a big part of Woodbury’s history. Just over 100 years old, it was originally a Ford Model T assembly plant. In the 1940s, it transitioned into a machine shop that manufactured equipment for local pimento packing and, prior to becoming High Cotton, the building served as a stamping facility. Many local customers share their memories of visiting parents and grandparents at work in these factories when they were young.
“We recently had some old crates from the Woodbury packing shed and our local customers just loved them,” Derenda continued. “So many came in to tell us ‘my grandfather worked here’ – there is a heartfelt, local connection for many with our building.”
The Moores and their vendor partners work hard to maintain a reputation for exceptional antiques along with a great mix of vintage, cottage, farmhouse, traditional and even some midcentury modern items. From lighting, art, rugs, furniture, collectables, old signage, dishware and a huge selection of glass, High Cotton has something for everyone.
“Antiques give us a sense of who we are and where we came from,” Derenda explained. “As we get older, we become more nostalgic. I love to see customers pick up a piece of depression glass or vintage Corningware and say, ‘This is just like what my grandmother used to have in her kitchen.’ The antiques we sell root our customers to this community and to their own past – and it’s that connection to those special memories that makes this business so rewarding.”
Like United Bank, the Moores make it a point to build strong relationships with customers, especially those who live locally. They know their names, faces and stories. Some live close by and simply walk over to browse the new inventory placed in the booths on a weekly basis. Greg also enjoys the convenience of walking to United Bank to take care of his banking needs.
“When we purchased High Cotton, all of the business accounts were held at United Bank – and I can see why. There’s nothing like it,” said Greg. “Trudy, Dianne, Cara and Marissa know me by name, I am never a number, and they always greet me with a smile, ready to help. We feel very fortunate to work with a bank that understands the Woodbury community and is dedicated to its growth as well as its preservation.”
High Cotton’s business has grown substantially over the last few years and continues to expand through new online channels designed to reach younger audiences. Through these efforts, the Moores hope to bring the magic of Woodbury to antique collectors across the country.
Make sure to plan your trip over to Woodbury to experience Georgia's "antique trail." Visit High Cotton to share your stories and experience a little history for yourself. It's a wonderful journey through time!
Check out the entire issue of the 2023 Our Story.