For most people, being passed by would be sort of a bummer. But for Scott Peek, owner of the design/print shop Standard Deluxe, it was an excuse to throw a party.
In the year 2000, the State of Alabama decided to build a new four-lane version of U.S. Highway 280. This routed traffic away from the tiny town of Waverly (current population 148), saving it from destruction. A year later, Peek, who moved to Waverly after graduating from nearby Auburn University, joined his fellow townspeople in celebrating being bypassed by holding the first of what would become an annual music/art/food festival called “The Old 280 Boogie.”
Peek grew up a few hours south of Waverly in Ozark. He always had an interest in art and design, drawing cartoons as a kid and visiting with a local sign painter and esteemed local water colorist Jack Deloney. Peek studied commercial art at Auburn and moved to Birmingham for a bit before settling in Waverly.
There, rent was cheap and space was plentiful. “I really loved this big old brick storefront,” he recalled. “Behind it there was an empty cotton warehouse that was used for storage – metal walls, wood floors, no ceiling, just a giant shell.” That would become the first Standard Deluxe print shop.
Standard Deluxe would go on to do the trade show circuit, hire sales reps, and began printing for heavy hitter designers (Charles Anderson, David Carson) after becoming involved with the HOW Design Conference and building a reputation for high-quality work and impeccable attention to detail.
But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Peek has gone through a lot of business ups and downs and has been met with various strains of resistance from some Waverly old-timers over the years. “It’s not the all hunky-dory story that everybody wants to hear,” he said. But thanks to the right local allies and good old-fashioned perseverance he’s celebrating his 25th anniversary there this year.
“I’ve prevailed,” he said. ‘I’m still doing what I like and I still enjoy what I do.”
Aside from designing and printing, that includes buying and rehabbing buildings and houses around town (he owns several) and perpetually refining the Standard Deluxe compound.
His shop is now in the old bank building in downtown Waverly. He’s moved out of the house that also contained the Standard Deluxe office and retail store. He built a Feed Shak to accommodate the revolving array of world class chefs (including James Beard Award semi-finalist Rob McDaniel) who come to the music shows to “do food,” combining ideas from an old torn down Lake Martin house with design elements from the cemetery wall situated across the street. Peek renovated a small wooden house, dubbed the Little House or the Pea Ridge Listening Room, to host small music events and record bands and hopefully a podcast. There’s also an outdoor stage for larger music shows.
“There’s no real number of shows per year,” he said. “We get asked to do way more music than we could ever do. We’ve been blessed to have some super top-notch talent come through here (Jason Isbell, Charles Bradley, Alabama Shakes, Civil Wars) and I think they’ve gone back and told their agents what a wonderful place it is.”
And then there’s the Boogie.
What started off as a small street party has grown into a jam-packed twice-yearly daylong festival featuring food and art and headlined by some of the biggest names in music.
The main “Old 280 Boogie” takes place in April and the ancillary “Fall Boogie,” now in its fifth year, is happening Saturday, Oct. 15.
Despite some rocky times and the incessant hard work that comes along with doing all of this, it’s really been a labor of love.
“What else was I gonna do?”