By Theadoris Morris
A 20,000-square foot showroom filled with antique and modern furnishings from wall to wall is what a customer will see walking into Clanton Furniture Store. For 58 years, Clanton has been home to the furniture store since it opened in 1953.
Honrie Little and M.E. Padgett started out in a small building next door to its current location in downtown Clanton at 105 6th St. N.
Padgett bought the business in March 1979, and the current owner, Carl Baker Jr., became manager.
“We have the largest inventory in this area,” said Baker. “We’re not the oldest one, but we have the largest inventory, and we try to work with each customer with care.”
Baker began working with the company in December 1959, and became manager after 20 years of employment. Baker managed the company from 1979 to 1983, when he purchased the business from Padgett.
Baker bought from four property owners to get the facility he owns today. He purchased 10,000 square feet in 1989 from Mary Lou Foshee and purchased the second half in 1999 from Beth Barton. He also purchased two adjoining warehouses, approximately 4,000 square feet each from Avoline LeCroy and Douglas Holcomb.
“We offer custom orders, special orders and in-store financing,” said Baker. “If someone comes in and has a particular bedroom suit in mind, we will order it for them.”
Open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Clanton Furniture offers kitchenware, paintings, table lamps, miniature chairs for children and barstools; and bedroom, dinette and den furniture.
Four full-time employees Josh Coker, Darrin Caffee, Dydiece Floyd and Jill Farris, and with the assistance of his wife Ann, help keep the company up and running not only for Chilton County but for people in the surrounding areas.
“We deliver everywhere with no limitations,” Baker said. “We deliver to Birmingham and Montgomery with no delivery charge. We’ve made deliveries to Gulf Shores, Mississippi, Atlanta, Tennessee and have been to Gatlinburg twice this summer.”
Just like other businesses, Baker experienced slow months and economic hardships with his store and is hoping the economy gets better so business can pick back up.
“The late ‘90s early to 2006 was good,” said Baker. “But May 2008, was like cutting a faucet off. There’s been a little bit more traffic than it used to be, but it’s not like it was two or three years ago. Our doors are still open and we fought through.”
The biggest change Baker encountered being in the furniture business was furniture manufacturers moving overseas, which caused most people to lose their jobs, he said.
“I can’t see anything that is made in the U.S.,” said Baker, as he peered around the showroom. “Everything is made from China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Mexico.”
Dinette displays, home décor, leather sofas, flower arrangements, cabinets, grandfather clocks and all colors of hardwood furnishings can be found at Clanton Furniture Co.
“Last Christmas, December 2010, marked 51 years of me being here at the store,” said Baker. If someone asked to buy the store tomorrow I wouldn’t sell it. This is my home and I like Clanton – I like everything it stands for.”