Beverly Ruff recalls walking home from grammar school as a young girl and discovering a beautiful, old teapot abandoned in the grass beside the sidewalk. She took it home, clipped some tulips from her mother’s garden and filled the pottery with the freshly cut green stems and bright petals. Beverly, owner of Beverly Ruff Antiques and Linens and her new shop, The Village Poodle, recalls with a laugh, “My mother was not happy.” While she may have disrupted her mother’s tulip bed, she also stumbled upon her natural instinct toward discovering gorgeous objects and highlighting their beauty, which is her life’s second passion.
Her first passion is undoubtedly Standard Poodles. “I used to go to Lowe’s Skating Rink as a child, and the owner had a large, black Standard Poodle that would sit and watch the children skate. He was so beautiful and majestic,” says Beverly. “I loved on him more than I skated. When I turned 2, my parents purchased my first Standard. His name was Piper.”
She doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t adore poodles and antiques. As a girl growing up in Roebuck Springs, Beverly loved visiting antiques shops and discovering fascinating overlooked items at flea markets. “I can only imagine what the store owners must’ve thought of this blonde little girl spending hours sizing up their chandeliers and furniture,” says Beverly. “I am inspired by natural elements, but I also just love beautiful things.”
Beverly comes from a creative family. She inherited her artistic eye and gift for drawing and creating from her father, a police detective who loved art and who also was talented at drawing. “He was very good at art,” says Beverly of her father’s talents. “I’m not as good as he was, but I’ve always been artistic and able to teach myself how to do anything.” About eight years ago, Beverly began making jewelry, elegant, yet unfussy pieces, using simple lines in vintage sterling silver and freshwater pearls—jewelry that can be dressed up or down.
She credits her mother and aunt—both stylish, creative women with discerning taste—with instilling in her a deep appreciation for antiques. She was a teenager when she purchased her first great antique, a large vintage trunk, which she jerry-rigged to the roof of her Volkswagen Beetle to get it home. “I still have that trunk,” says Beverly. Her designer’s eye for antiques stayed with her during her 28-year career in accounting, working for the United Parcel Service, a time during which she also was briefly a Standard Poodle breeder. She sold one Standard Poodle to a customer who was not only charmed by his new black poodle, but completely enamored with Beverly, repeatedly asking her out. Cautious yet curious about this handsome fellow poodle-lover, Beverly acquiesced, agreeing only to groom his poodle, Dylan, every six weeks. After a year of courtship-by-grooming visits, Dylan became the proud fur-baby of Beverly and her new husband.
Around this exciting time, Beverly also encountered the opportunity to turn her antiques and design passion into a reality. “It has always been a dream of mine to have a beautiful boutique like no other around,” says Beverly. “It was a no-brainer. It was an opportunity to do something I truly loved after 28 years in the office.” So she opened her first shop, Beverly Ruff Antiques and Linens, in Mountain Brook Village, a cozy and relaxed store where Lulu, the laid-back “shop poodle” has been a fixture since the beginning. Besides lovely Lulu, the shop features antique wares from France and Italy, as well as gorgeous baby clothes, chic loungewear and jewelry from designers across the country.
After 10 successful years on Canterbury Road, Beverly was itching to open another shop where she could add fashion to her elegant collection. A storefront across the street became available, and Beverly nabbed it. She and her loyal-customer-turned-best-friend and fellow poodle-lover Hillary Kent took almost a year planning the new store, affectionately dubbed The Village Poodle. “It really took so long because we were procrastinating,” admits Beverly. “We’d walk into the space and talk about what would look good, and then we’d say, ‘OK, I’m tired. Let’s go to lunch!’” They kicked their efforts into high gear this past summer, launching the store in August, and the results are a beautifully curated collection in a well-laid-out space. Large, antique-arched fragments from France frame the front desk in an elegant and dramatic fashion. Beverly has added clothing and shoes to her tasteful collection of antiques and chandeliers, not to mention her stand-out jewelry selection. She chooses stunning vintage and new jewelry that possesses a timeless glamour and therefore is always on-trend.
And no collection of Beverly Ruff’s would be complete without a poodle presence. Shop poodle Lulu and Hillary’s black standard poodle, Prissy, lounge on a plush, antique doggy daybed, luxuriously bathing in the natural light from the large front window. Beverly and Hillary are joined by the customers in their adoration of the easygoing pooches, but Beverly’s favorite thing about her shops is the customers. “We have some really great customers,” says Beverly, whose best friend Hillary was originally a customer passing through her door. “Beverly is very artistic and has an eye for beautiful things,” says Hillary, adding, “and she is a very generous person in spirit.”
And just like the day she brought a teapot home and arranged garden tulips in it, Beverly can still be found bringing interesting objects into her shops and thoughtfully arranging them into her stylish displays.
The Village Poodle is located at 2410 Canterbury Road in Mountain Brook. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Beverly Ruff Antiques and Linens is located at 2417 Canterbury Road in Mountain Brook. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (205) 871-7872 or visit beverlyruff.com or the Beverly Ruff and Village Poodle Facebook page to stay abreast of upcoming trunk shows, new arrivals and more.