John Buford, who had spent many years of his life mastering tile and stone installation, opened a tile store 15 years ago which is known to the public as Stone Cavern.
John had graduated from Appalachian State University and began working in ski equipment sales at French Swiss and First Tracks. Years later after taking an interest with tile, he started his own installation career with a high school friend from Charlotte, Jim Burden who had already developed a reputation of being one of the higher quality craftsmen in the Queen City.
“The first job I really remember was working on Michael Jordan’s brother’s condo. Jim and I were friends and he needed an assistant. Everything just proceeded from there.”
John ended up moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan working in the tile field for several years before moving back to the High Country. Appreciative of his time working in Charlotte with Jim, John was able to fine tune his recognition for higher quality tile that can be harder to find with large commercial stores. After careful consideration, John opened his own business, Stone Cavern in 2005.
“I’ve been in sales pretty much my whole life. The opportunity for success was there and I knew that installing tile at my age was a hard thing to do if you’re going to do it really well. Even though I continued installation at the beginning of those opening years, the business created a stable value that eventually allowed me to focus solely on sales.”
After 15 years of fruition, this January John decided to part ways with the store. Carly Moore, employee and manager for 7 years is now the owner and operator of Stone Cavern. Her enthusiasm and artistic background provided a great turnover with which she has expanded the business. The store has been updated with new tiles, vendors, displays as well as a larger showroom.
Carly attended Appalachian State University and Lees McRae College, working at Eat Crow, a restaurant next door to the showroom. “One day John came over and asked for some part time help though I had no knowledge of tile but have learned and continue to learn everyday. It wasn’t long before I jumped to full time at Stone Cavern soaking in as much information as I could.”
“Having a degree in Fine Art, I’ve always enjoyed how colors and patterns work together in the design of paintings so working with tile was like another form of art in itself. When clients would walk in, I took note of how John would direct them certain ways using a combination of his design and retail skills. Knowing the application of tiles was important as well but it didn’t take long before I was able to begin helping customers piece different aspects of their job together.”
Carly really enjoys staying up to date on the latest trends and technology as she takes a lot of joy in meeting her clients’ needs. Some of the new styles that customers have been interested in include large format tiles, wood-look porcelain, and decorative mosaics that offer unique designs. A lot of tile companies have beautiful geometric patterns, elegant crackled glass, organic-like shapes and lots of texture.
In addition to the material, she has experience with a computer software program called Sketchup which allows clients to see their kitchen, bathroom or whole area in a three dimensional rendering. “With this, they are able to see their tile selections applied in the room helping give a visual representation of their choices. It’s a tool that allows us to go to job sites, measure spaces and help connect the homeowner, contractor and installer. Personally working with the installers, contractors and designers is an important aspect that helps ensure a smoother finished product. I’m still learning everyday so it’s essential for me to be in good communication with everyone. When I’m provided with the correct square footages, we can review the Sketchup design that details layouts and placements.”
Finding a professional and qualified tile installer and contractor is just as important as finding your favorite tile. While Stone Cavern does not provide installation, they certainly will advise contact information for some of the best in the area. Stone Cavern not only works with new builders but also has long standing relationships with accomplished contractors including Dacchille Construction, Fuller & Fuller Construction, Tynecastle Builders, Cornerstone Construction, Pepin Construction, Rattlesnake Mountain Construction, Doty Homebuilders, Associated Construction Trades, Woodland Construction, Eggers Construction, Rellim Construction, Isley Construction and Vonco Construction. They also work with local design firms like Dianne Davant & Associates, Tatum Galleries & Interiors and Creative Interiors.
Another helpful visual that Stone Cavern is currently working on is a large Schluter shower vignette that features a curbless shower entrance, linear shower drain, Ditra Heat mat and wire for a heated bathroom floor that you can stand on and feel, Schluter profiles like Rondec, Jolly and Quadec, different size tiles including 8×47, 12×24 and 24×48 along with a floating bench, Schluter niche, shelves and Tileware products. This allows customers to physically see what really is the most vital part of any shower installation; the underlayment. Schluter offers a lifetime guarantee of their products using their complete system, which is a great reason to choose Schluter.
“Soon we may have the opportunity to host yearly Schluter workshops from reps that will teach installers, contractors and others the foundations of using Schluter products. It will be a great chance to expand proficiency while bringing some of the community together.”
Stone Cavern’s showroom is located at 9872 NC Highway 105 South in Banner Elk across from Mountain Lumber and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. For weekends contact them through their phone number and for more information, visit their website at https:// www.stonecavern.com/. Happy Tiling!