For generations, the Hubbard family has brought shoppers to the corner of Main Street and Austin Avenue in downtown Denison in search of deals on furniture and appliances. Now, after nearly seven decades of business, Hubbard Furniture Co. is looking to close its doors permanently, bringing an end to a part of downtown Denison’s history.
On Saturday, Marcus Hubbard, representing the third generation to work at the store, announced plans to close the shop and retire after more than five decades with the family business. White signs with red lettering announcing the pending closure decorated the large glass front windows of the business Monday morning.
“I’ve worked here for — let’s see — more than 50 years now,” Hubbard said Monday, pausing briefly to count the years. “My grandfather and father started it up here in 1948.”
In the coming weeks, Hubbard said he plans to hold sales for his remaining stock and reduce his inventory. By doing this, it will be easier to market and sell the 120-year-old building, he said. Throughout the showroom, both new and used furniture and appliances were decorated with yellow price tags. A few red tags throughout the building marked items that have already been sold.
In addition to selling furniture, the business has also repaired and sold used appliances. The third story of the building serves as something of a graveyard for all makes and models of appliances in various stages of repair and disassembly for parts. Small, handwritten notes on the tops of washing machines indicated what was wrong with each unit.
At age 68, Hubbard said it was time for him to retire and step away from the family business. With no children, and no interest from outside parties in buying the company, he said it was time to simply close down. Hubbard noted that he first started working at the business under his father and grandfather at age 14.
Beyond his retirement, Hubbard said times have been hard for independent brick-and-mortar stores like his. While the last five years have been difficult, Hubbard said 2017 has proven to be even slower for the business.
“It is just a headache being in retail these days,” he said Monday. “The problem is you have all these chains now. You’ve got a lot of big box stores. We’ve been doing good for all these years, but this year has been hard.”
Business was slow Monday morning, with only a few window shoppers coming into the downtown store front. Despite the small turnout, Hubbard said he had several friends and long-time customers come in during the past few days to say their goodbyes to him and his business. Others heard about the closure through word of mouth, Hubbard said.
Among the visitors Monday morning was Billie Lynn of Pottsboro, who has shopped at Hubbard Furniture for 62 years. In 1954, Lynn made her first purchase at the store when she purchased a chair, end table, lamp and chrome dining room set for $400, she remembered.
“I liked to have a fit about that but he said, ‘Oh Billie, it will all be alright,’” she said, describing Hubbard’s grandfather. “Since then, I’ve bought nearly everything in this house from there.”
Lynn said she has always received good service from the business. When her washing machine broke down, Lynn said she trusted Hubbard to choose and deliver the replacement to her home. When the replacement came, Lynn was not charged for the delivery, she said.
With her favorite furniture store closing down, Lynn said she was uncertain where she would shop in the future. While she is unhappy about the change, she said she will have to accept it as a sign of the times.
“I hate to see it change because there are no good ones around anymore,” Lynn said. “It is like losing a friend that you’ve known for all these years.”
Despite the pending closure, Hubbard seemed to have fond memories of the business and his years working there. In his office, located next to a line of older-model televisions, Hubbard kept a picture frame with small photos of the business over the years, including one of his father standing in front of the business during a winter storm in 1948.
Hubbard also took pride in showing off many awards the business has received over the years. Nestled between certificates awarded by the city, Hubbard displayed a picture of him shaking hands with Denison Mayor Jared Johnson. Most recently, Hubbard Furniture was among 20 downtown Denison businesses that were recognized by the Texas Historic Commission in 2016 with the Texas Treasure award for businesses that have remained active for over 50 years.
Of those businesses, less than 10 have been open as long as Hubbard, Main Street Director Donna Dow said Monday.
“It is always sad to see a business go, especially one that has been around that long,” she said. “It is one of the harder parts of my job.”
With the loss of Hubbard Furniture, Dow said there are now no furniture stores active in downtown Denison. Dow said it has been a difficult market for businesses like Hubbard Furniture in recent years as they have competed with larger chain stores that can make larger numbers of sales. However, this has been tempered by trends toward buying from smaller, local chains and businesses, Dow said.
Despite the loss, Dow said the closure also presents the area with the opportunity for new development and growth. When asked about the future of the building, Dow said it would be the ideal location for new retail or restaurant businesses.
“We just have to roll with the punches and look at it as a chance to bring in new business,” she said.