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ABERDEEN — In the age of smartphones and constant distractions, it gets harder and harder to take a break and spend time sharing a meal with loved ones. But an Irishman who wound up in Mississippi is doing his part to combat that culture of separation and give people a place to come together.
“Our company is about bringing people back to the table,” says Mark Perrott, founder and owner of Mississippi Farm Tables.“We’re in a generation where people live with laptops and phones always in front of them, and we think it’s a good thing to gather around a table.”
While Perrott primarily sells dining room furniture at Mississippi Farm Tables, he also construct beds, coffee tables, hutches and buffets.
“You dream it; we build it,” he says. “We ask folks what they need and what they want it to look like, then we go from there.”
Although most of Perrott’s orders come from Mississippians, he has created some pieces that have made their way across the country. The owner of a Mississippi-themed soul food restaurant in San Diego requested traditional farmhouse-style tables for his business — one of Perrott’s favorite projects.
Despite always having an affinity for craftsmanship, mission work was Perrott’s first career.
A native of Limerick, Ireland, Perrott lived in Dublin and Northern Ireland. He spent 20 years in London and the United Kingdom doing religious work. He then lived in Southern France, where he spent time as an apprentice with a furniture artisan.
“That’s really where I began to develop my skills,” Perrott said, adding that he worked on new construction and remodeling.
Perrott’s connection with the United States began in the late 1970s when his father, who worked in ministry at the time, traveled to Tupelo. Perrott tagged along.
“I had a summer romance with a local. Our first date was to see Grease,” Perrott said.
“The aim was I would come back and go to college here. But I was 17, changed my mind and broke her heart.”
Thirty-three years later, both were recovering from failed marriages and they reconnected on Facebook. Mark and Helen decided to meet up, and they’ve been together since seeing each other in the Memphis airport. After getting engaged under the Eiffel Tower, the two lived in France for a couple of years. Then Perrott immigrated to the United States.
Helen, a nurse, assists with finishing and staining some on the weekends.
The two are planning to move from Aberdeen to Madison County, relocating the storefront for Mississippi Farm Tables to Ridgeland. They haven’t set an opening date, but the long-range plan is to have some stock plus keep up custom orders.
“Once I get situated, I want to build up some stock, but the principal is I want to do custom work and cater everything to the individual,” he said. “The aim is to stay small.”
Though Perrott has numerous satisfied customers and a wealth of great reviews on his social media, he knows there’s always room for improvement.
“I’m still learning. I would never use the word ‘craftsman’ to describe myself — maybe in 10 years,” he said. “You’re always learning, there’s always new challenges to face.”