SampleHouse is home to many things: shiny things, soft things, inspirational things, funny things, big things and things you could fit in your pocket. But of all the things found on SampleHouse shelves, you might notice that there is an abundance of watermelon things!
The story behind our founder’s favorite fruit is one of recovery and positive thinking, and we’re proud to share his passion for watermelon.
For SampleHouse & CandleShop owner Foster Poole, watermelons represent much more than a sticky summertime snack. What began as a boredom-busting hobby that he picked while recovering from a detached retina in 1991 has turned into a full-fledged bout of self-proclaimed “craziness.”
Almost 25 years later, watermelons have all but taken over Poole’s Highland Park residence, with the cartoonish contrast of red fruit and green rind found on lampshades, doorknobs and tissue boxes.
“All I did was sit,” Poole told the Dallas Morning News in 2013. “Then for some reason, I started painting watermelons.”
It began on watermelon slice-shaped wedges of raw wood. With bright red and fresh green puddles of paint, Poole transformed each wedge into what would become a beloved hobby and his local calling card.
His creations come to life in a garage-turned-workshop, where Poole is comforted by the warmth of a fireplace and the bright Texas sun shining through a skylight. Poole is never without company, whether it be his affectionate wife Nancy or his black Labrador retriever Winston, who is also the SampleHouse ambassador (and occasional SampleHouse blog contributor).
The nearly 83-year-old proud Dallas resident is, above all else, a creative spirit. Poole founded SampleHouse in 1958, using samples of leftover merchandise from other stores as the foundation for his inventory. After attending a trade show for giftware products, Poole’s interest in the fun and funky side of retail began to snowball. Today, Poole’s penchant for all things folk art can be felt in each one of the Dallas-area stores.
“I still do 10 to 20 percent of the buying,” Poole says. “But mostly the weird stuff.”
As we trade the coats and mittens of winter for all the bold colors of a new season of life, each piece of watermelon art that signals the coming of summer seems just a little sweeter with each passing year.