Student and alumnus start local business that also promotes creativity
Recently, while driving through downtown Bridgewater, Matt Turner, ’19, and Megan Belmonte, ’22, noticed a For Rent sign in an empty storefront window. They knew it would be the perfect spot for their new business venture, The Rug Shack, a place where community artists can create, sell, and gather.
“We called the landlord, who was actually at the store right then, met with them and put down a deposit that day,” Megan said.
That’s the short version of how The Rug Shack, located at 42 Central Square, came to be.
The longer version begins at Bridgewater State University where the couple met, and Megan is currently studying psychology with a minor in business.
Through mutual friends, the two were introduced and started dating when Matt was still a student, studying photography at BSU.
Making Bridgewater the home for their joint business venture was an easy call.
“I love the area, I love BSU in general, what they stand for, it’s a great community,” Megan said.
Matt was working after high school as a photographer in Southeast Asia when he decided to learn more about the science behind the lens.
“I discovered Bridgewater had great film and photography programs, and after looking into the curriculum focused in on BSU,” he said.
Aside from photography, Matt also enrolled in drawing and painting classes.
“I really began exploring art,” he said.
During the pandemic, Matt tapped into that creativity and began hand-making rugs using his own designs. His pieces found eager customers among college students.
“They are really good for dorms,” Megan said. “They are custom rugs and make a student’s room feel more like it’s their own space.”
Inspired, the couple started to think about opening a retail space where they could sell Matt’s rugs. They also considered ways to help local artists and Bridgewater students by providing an outlet for their own creativity.
Megan said her psychology degree and business minor helped with the process.
They came up with a business plan to create a space where they could not only sell Matt’s rugs, but also invite other artists to create and sell their work.
Local artists were more than happy to get involved. In addition to Matt’s rugs, soaps, vases, woodwork, jewelry and more, all made by local artists, will be offered for sale.
There is also a dedicated thrift area with “upcycled” clothing.
“We wanted to offer an option to buy clothes at a reasonable price close to campus,” Megan said.
The most unique space within The Rug Shack is the artists’ studio at the back of the store.
“Whoever wants to come in and create art is welcome to,” Matt said, adding he will offer free lessons to BSU students interested in learning how to make rugs.
And, Matt said, The Rug Shack provides an opportunity to learn about the business side of art.
“I’d love to help students and artists get a leg up on how to break into retail, how to sell in a store while still going to college,” Matt said.
Megan encourages students to stop in when the shop opens this semester.
“We wanted to stay in Bridgewater because we want to give to the students,” Megan said. “School can be stressful, and this offers a cool, creative space. We are very friendly and would love to help artists with their process in art.”
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