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Scientist nukes past with new career

It doesn’t take a nuclear scientist to know how to prevail in a retail market, and yet Farragut is home to one former nuclear scientist who does this very thing.

Craig Booker, owner of Booker’s Home Accents at 620 N. Campbell Station Road, left his job as a scientist for the Department of Energy, for what he calls a more enjoyable life.

“I really enjoy what I do,” he said. “One of the best things is the interaction I get to have with people.”

Booker, a former U.S. Navy lieutenant, offers a variety of home décor items to highlight and accent homes. He offers décor from the Howard Elliott collection, European tapestries, Joyce Shelton designer dinnerware, Romanian crystal, capodimonte porcelain, Victorian Heart linen, accent furniture and area rugs.

Booker said he hadn’t seen any indications of certain trends in those seeking home décor.

“If we as retailers knew that [trends], we’d be filthy rich,” he said with a chuckle.

The purchases people make tend to be varied and diverse.

“One day it might be a pair of lamps, and crystal the next day,” Booker said. “It depends on the customer and what they want to accent their home.”

Booker is celebrating his official grand opening, even though the store has been open since October. As one who constantly strives for excellence, he said the business only recently has reached a quality appearance acceptable to his standards.

The 8,500 square-foot store offers a number of booths and items for customers. He offers rental space for those customers who might want to try their hand at their own retail business. Currently three individuals rent their own space as businesses. They include Fienes Designs, The Cottage Gardens and Eclective Accents.

“We offer people the opportunity to start their own business with low overhead,” he said. “We collect and pay sales tax for them.”

Booker said the software he uses allows the computer to differentiate between vendors and take a 15 percent service charge for him as owner of the facility.

“I live out here in Farragut and enjoy the store and the people out here,” he said.

His new store filled with home décor is a far cry from where he started in 2002.

“I started selling décor over the Internet,” he said. “I had reached a point in my career with the Department of Energy where I wanted out. I looked at businesses, trends, took some courses and decided women tend to spend the majority of money.”

Booker said he then researched a product line that would appeal to women and started selling it.

“It was pretty much hit or miss,” he said. “I didn’t know too much about Web site optimization and how to get the information out there.”

He left the DOE in March 2003, and started selling his products from a rented stall in a local shop in Octobe of 2003.

In February 2005, he leased a 2,600 square-foot store in Market Square in downtown Knoxville.

“Things were going pretty well there,” he said. “Most of my customers were part of the lunch-time crowd who liked to look, but didn’t have time to buy during the weekdays.”

Booker said most of his customers came from the West Knoxville area, so he decided to move out to Farragut to his customer base.

“I live out here and my customers were out here, so it just made sense to move out here,” he said.

The store is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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