Andrew Fegler leapt into the demanding role of business owner in downtown Monroe, mere months after graduating high school.

The revenue from the boutique store will help as he works toward a bachelor’s degree in business management. Right now, funds are short.

Until then, the 19-year-old Monroe resident said he isn’t one to sit around. He said he doesn’t consider himself to be much different than others his age.

“I think we are all the same when it comes to ambition and goals,” he said. “I think I just ran a little faster.”

Fegler said he started a baking business in middle school, and then switched to creating candles in high school. For many years, his bedroom doubled as a workspace. He started selling his products in stores two years ago.

As he set up shop in various establishments, Fegler began developing a feel for what opening up his own business might involve. In 2016, he had a pop-up Christmas store called “Olde St. Nick’s,” which operated October through December.

The interior of his new Rustic Pine store is lined and filled with various displays of old and new products from regional and local artisans and craftsmen. Clothing, decorations, furniture and countless other knickknacks stuff the aisles. 

Fegler said he shopped around for a few months before he settled on the storefront on North Lewis Street, adjacent to the train tracks. He quickly attached to the space, he said, loving the large front windows, parking lot and location. He drained his savings for the down payment, and borrowed a chunk from his father for part of the first month’s rent.

His father, Mark Fegler, said he has already been paid back for much of his loan, and some of it came ahead of schedule. He said he has unwavering confidence in his son’s plan.

“I will tell you, throughout the entire family, we were all behind him 110 percent on this,” Mark Fegler said.

Mark Fegler watched from the sidelines as his son searched for the right building and negotiated a lease on his own. Family members got involved only when the contract was finalized. He said he helped his son with some construction work, and other family members came in to help put up displays. 

“He is very intelligent and he’s got a lot of drive, and whatever Andrew’s done — he’s been doing this since he was 14 — he is very successful at it,” Mark Fegler said.

Fegler worked to compile a list of vendors, the last he tracked down the night before the grand opening. The final display was finished at 8:30 a.m., only hours before doors were unlocked at 11 a.m. on March 2.

Fegler largely relies on social media accounts to advertise for Rustic Pine.

Leslie Willmann, co-owner of The Junk Sisterhood, a vintage boutique store that happened to open a few blocks away the day after Fegler’s, was a vendor in the teen’s seasonal Christmas store this winter.

“I think he will be extremely successful,” Willmann said. “He is great at thinking outside the box as far as promoting...”

The local vintage boutique niche is filled by nearly a dozen businesses that have cropped up in downtown, Willmann said. The small community of business owners, including Fegler, helped design a map to connect customers with each of the stylistically similar shops, she said.

Fegler and Willmann said the unofficial coalition also plans local events for the downtown area, including the upcoming “A Day With Mom, Herb Garden Walk,” which will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, May, 13 in Monroe.

“He is just a really nice kid, but he is sharp,” Willmann said. “He’s a sharp cookie, and he’s a very hard worker.”