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By Teresa Bigham/The Hesperian-Beacon—
“I had lots of time to dream about what I wanted to do with my life when I got out of the service, and I knew I wanted to open a dry cleaner in Lockney”, said Brown. Once he made it home to his family his dream was about to come true. He bought a dry-cleaning plant that was in Amarillo. “The ole boy I hired to move the equipment couldn’t get off during the day, so we moved everything at night. Three weeks after I got home from the service I was up and running in a 12-foot building. One side was next to an empty lot and the other was next door to Wofford Workshop”
On a trip to Carlsbad, New Mexico with his brother they stopped in a store in Seagraves. There was a salesman in there selling men’s suits. Brown got to visiting with the salesman and that was the start of Brown’s Department store, only no one knew yet. The salesman told Brown that he would set him up in business and if he didn’t sell the suits, he could send them back.
Brown simply couldn’t pass up that deal. He built an iron rack in front of the cleaners to display the suits. Brown said, “The suits hardly hit the rack before they started flying out of there.” Brown decided that after the successful sale of these suits he had better get into selling suits and clothing pretty strong.
He pushed all his dry-cleaning equipment to the back and went to Amarillo to the market. “That’s where I saw some Argyle socks. Man, they sure were pretty. I just had to have them. I got them and I brought them back to my store. That was in 1948. The year Brown’s Department store was established,” said Brown.
“I displayed those socks in the front window. Joe Cunyus came walking in one day after school. He was admiring those socks. I told him I would be happy to sell him a pair. He told me that he really wanted a pair, but he didn’t have any money. I let him pick a pair and told him to pay me whenever he could. It wasn’t but a few days later that he came back in to pay for those socks. A few years ago, I ran into Joe and we were talking about that time. Joe joked with me by saying that was the last time he was out of debt. It’s times like that that I cherish so much.” Brown said.
Sometime later Wofford sold me the building he owned, and I made a 60-foot store front. That’s when we added women and children clothes, bathroom towels and bedding. “We had so many good people that loved trading with us,” recalls Brown.
After several years Brown decided to move his business down Main street and he didn’t have any use for that building anymore so he donated it to the Mangold Hospital. Today that building is the home health care building.
(Editor’s note: Part three of a four-part series)