In 1927, Brewster Furniture advertised a five-piece bedroom suite for $75.
Comparing “apples to apples,” a solid wood collection of furniture today would run about $2,000, Charlie Brewster said.
Brewster, 62, is the third generation to run the family-owned and operated furniture store in Tyler.
His grandfather, Brawner Brewster, started the store in the 1920s at 210 W. Ferguson St. A newspaper advertisement from 1927 shows the bedroom suite for only $75, as well as a three-piece living room set for $60.
Back in those days, bedroom furniture was all solid wood, Brewster said while standing in the furniture store, now on West Gentry Parkway, on Aug. 29. Nothing was made of veneer or particle board like some furniture is today.
Brewster isn't sure when the store was moved from Ferguson to 210 W. Erwin St., where the business remained for about 45 years.
“Back at that time, all businesses were downtown,” he said. Young people today can't imagine that — there was no Loop, mall or anything outside of downtown, he added.
Brewster Furniture relocated into a bigger building on Gentry Parkway in 1976. His father, Franklin Brewster, took over the business around 1940 and ran it until 1985, leaving it to him.
He attended Tyler Junior College and Texas Eastern University, which he said was located on Gentry Parkway until it became The University of Texas at Tyler and moved. When he got out of school, Brewster worked as a land surveyor for five years before going to work at the furniture store in 1975.
“At that time, the plan was in place to move out to this location (on Gentry),” he said. “Businesses were expanding from downtown and downtown was starting to die out.”
Moving into a much larger building, Brewster said the timing was good for him to start working for the family business and help with the expansion.
Since joining Brewster Furniture nearly 40 years ago, the business “has at least quadrupled,” he said. “This location has been very good. We have a very big customer base.”
Brewster has no plans to move the business, which sits on four acres.
“I love this location and I've got plenty of room to expand if I ever wanted to,” he said.
He sells living room, dining room and bedroom furniture, as well as appliances.
“Where we have that option to buy U.S. made, we try to do it,” he said.
Pointing out cabinets made by Eagle, he said, “That's a piece that's a one-time purchase. You buy it one time, it will last you from now on.”
Within the past two years, animal print furniture has become popular, he said as he pointed out some zebra print chase lounges.
He said it has been interesting to see different generations come through his store.
Brewster believes what sets them apart from other furniture stores is “we're family owned and we do our own financing.” When a customer wants credit, they don't have to go through a third part for approval. “We make all of our own decisions here,” he said.
Brewster said running the store has been mostly easy for him.
“I have two managers that are excellent. They would be the best two employees in Tyler,” he said, adding that one has worked for him more than 10 years while the other has been his employee for more than 20 years.
The other reason he believes business has been pretty easy, Brewster said, is because he tries to live by the Ten Commandments. “Try to do those things and don't worry,” he said while pointing to the list hanging on the store's wall. “Worry will not add one day to your life,” he added.
Brewster has no plans to retire anytime soon.
“If everything is good and smooth, leave it alone,” he said. “If it ain't broke, don't fix it.”
Also on the back wall are two framed newspaper advertisements for the store dating back to 1927 and 1941.
After all the years he has been in business, Brewster said his favorite part of the job continues to be the customers.
“I get the chance to meet a lot of people; a wide variety of people,” Brewster said. He enjoys seeing all of the different personalities of customers and learning their viewpoints and opinions. “You learn how a lot of other people think.”