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Jim Shoulders III of Seat Cover Jim (Paducah, KY)


What does being an upholsterer mean to you?

Taking something in disrepair and making it like new again!


How did you get started in upholstery?

Well my grandfather started the company over 70 years ago. That is an estimate. We haven’t been able to find out when the shop actually opened. We believe it was between the 1940’s and 1950’s. My grandfather went to work for a box seat chain store after he got out of WWII. He was a fireman that needed something to do on his days off and he was poor. He became a manger of a chain seat cover store. He then became the guy that the owner of the store would send to set up new stores. He came to Paducah to start a new store & the owner said he didn’t think that Paducah would be a successful store. Eventually the store closed and my grandfather opened up his own shop here



What types of upholstery do you do?

Auto, Marine, and Commercial


How long have you been upholstering?

Well my grandfather ran the shop for years and then my dad, Jim Jr., ran it and now I run it. I have run it for 32 years. I would work after school and during summer break. The joke is I would go to the shop and stay in the way before it was time for me to go to kindergarten (back then we only went half a day). My grandfather taught me when the shop whistle would blow for lunch it was time for me to go wash my face and hands and brush my teeth to get ready to go to kindergarten. I tell everybody that I co-oped in kindergarten and worked half a day!


What is your biggest consumer demand?

Time. We do so many things and we are so busy in every area of our business. Consumer demand is waiting on us. We physically can’t do everything as fast as they would like to do. We set up appointments. We run so far out that demand is tough; It’s tough on our customer and it’s tough on us to run so far out.


What is your favorite upholstery project you've done?

It’s not so much what I have had my hands on but our manger Rocky has worked with us since he was 14 years old. The sense of accomplishment watching him do these elaborate boat interiors. He started from the ground up. Now he does some of our most intricate jobs. So the sense of accomplishment is the pride Rocky takes on those. 

Also, there was a '55 Chevy that my grandfather worked on when the car was relatively new, we re-did the car a second and third time. So three generations worked on the same car over the 70 years. I got to remake things my grandfather did. It meant a lot.


What is the strangest item you've found in a restoration?

Dead varmints, animal excrement, envelope full of large bills.


Have you noticed any up and coming trends?

Over the years things have become more elaborate, neater, and cooler. Old designs come around again, like diamond pleats or velour. The evolution of going from a top stitch to French seam, to welt back to top stitch. It’s like everything old is new again. What people like and what people are attracted to.

What changes would benefit the upholstery industry?

The significance of the skills of trimmers. You know in today’s world plumbers and electricians are being recognized more and more for their abilities. Trimmers should be the same way. There should be a sense of value for what those guys and girls do. The pay should be what their skill level is.


Have you ever been featured on television, online, or in another publication?

Don’t remember. Not really my thing.




Some answers have been edited for clarity.


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