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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Local furniture store closing after 45 years

  • After bouncing around a few universities and spending a short time in the military, Jack Brown, owner of Brown Furniture Company at 1601 N. Kickapoo, wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.
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  • After bouncing around a few universities and spending a short time in the military, Jack Brown, owner of Brown Furniture Company at 1601 N. Kickapoo, wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.
     
    “I came to Shawnee in 1956 to work in my dad’s furniture store,” Brown said. “I felt like it would be a temporary job.”
     
    It wasn’t. Brown has been in the business of selling furniture ever since. After 58 years, he is retiring.
     
    At first, Brown said he didn’t understand the appeal of selling furniture; it wasn’t a business he was particularly interested in.
     
    “I just kind of looked around and thought, ‘What can I do?’” he said. “From the beginning, I just sort of tried to figure out a way to display it.”
     
    Display became Brown’s favorite part, and what he says is his talent.
     
    “I think that’s been a part of our success, because people can see it,” he said.
     
    Branching out on his own, Brown opened his store on Kickapoo street in 1969. By that time, he said, he made a transition to carrying all top of the line furniture.
     
    But although the store was high quality, it was not an easy road. A fire destroyed the store in 1985.
     
    “It was a store twice as big as this one,” Brown said. “The horror came when I got a call that said the insurance company I was with had been put into receivership by the state of Iowa. In other words, they were bankrupt.”
     
    Brown said the incident was a bump in the road, causing him to feel sorry for himself.
     
    “I never did have any thought of throwing in the towel,” he said. “It was tempting, because there was just so much loss.”
     
    The rebuild did not come easy. Brown said they started back with only 50 feet of space.
     
    “There just wasn’t enough inventory to make a profit with,” he said. “But I gradually was able to double the space and then things really began to turn around.”
     
    During his many years at the store, Brown has drawn in customers not only from Shawnee, but Norman, Edmond and Oklahoma City as well.
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    “I’ve had some wonderful calls since people found out that I’m closing the store,” he said. “You do make friends, and a lot of them.”
     
    Brown said what has pleased him most was his transition to selling high quality furniture.
     
    “That’s separated it from all the other stores,” he said. “I think that’s the thing that I’m the most proud of because it took a little nerve.”
     
    Although Brown has enjoyed his store, he said he knows it is time to retire.
     
    “It just got to where I could tell that it’s a long day,” he said. “There aren’t too many guys out there that are working out there at my age.”
     
    Brown said he and his wife have been blessed to travel often, and he hopes to do more during his retirement.
     
    “I don’t sit down, I’m moving all the time,” Brown said.
     
    There is no specific date, but Brown said he hopes to have the store closed by the end of July.
     
    “I’ve been really pleased with the results so far,” he said. “It’s been really gratifying. It’s been a fun trip.”
     

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