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Posted: November 13, 2011 12:30 a.m.

Ramsey’s celebrates 92 years

Gabriel Khouli/

The square and surrounding area has had its fair share of ups and downs recently, but one of its longest-tenured owners is doing his best to give the area a little boost and keep it looking good.

Sam Ramsey, owner of Ramsey's Furniture, remodeled the outside of his main store and store annex on Clark Street, the first major remodeling since Ramsey bought the store from his father in 1964.

The most obvious changes are the additions of columns to the entrance of both stores and the painting of the "Ramsey's Furniture" sign to blue.

The sign holds particular sentimental value to Ramsey, as he and his father, C.D. Jr., cut out those letters with a jigsaw in the 1960s.

As for the columns, they were actually given to Ramsey by Steve Smith Contractors, the company doing the work. Not only does that company do great work, Ramsey said, but Joey Smith used to work in the furniture store.

"He said he enjoyed the furniture business, but he enjoyed outside contracting work more," Ramsey said Friday. "I'm glad to be able to help them out, because there are a lot of contractors that are struggling."

Joey and his father, Steve, have also replaced the awnings of the buildings and put a stucco-like finish on the face of and repainted the side of the main store. The new color scheme is blue and cream, Ramsey said.

Ramsey's Furniture continues to celebrate anniversaries, including its 92nd year in business this month. The store is the oldest retail store in Covington, Ramsey said. Its seen four generations of Ramseys work there, including Ramsey's nephew Tony, who has been with the company for 14 years now.

Ramsey and his wife, Becky, don't have any children, so they'll have to wait to see if Tony's two daughters take any liking to the furniture business and pass the store on to a fifth generation of Ramseys.

The square and surrounding area has undergone many changes. The Ramsey's main store used to be located across Clark Street, where the parking lot for BB&T and others shops is now. The annex is located in the old Ginn dealership building, which was eventually swapped for the Delaney Hotel property, which now houses Troy University.

The current store has also undergone plenty of changes, including the addition of a second floor and balconies. The Covington Fire Department used to be housed out of the back of the store, while city hall was just a few doors down where the "The Fire House" sign is now.

The square may never again become the major retail center it was 25 years ago, when it had four major chain grocery stores, six department stores, three hardware stores and three five-and-dimes, Ramsey said.

"But as long as we keep people occupying the buildings and keep it viable it will mean a lot to the city and this whole county," Ramsey said. "The square is what makes Covington Covington. It's important for the county and unique."

He credited Rob Fowler and Frank Turner with helping keep the square viable, and pointed out the work they, and he as mayor, did to keep the Newton County offices and post office in downtown Covington to keep traffic coming through the area.

As for Ramsey's, it continues to be one of the few major retailers downtown. The 30,000 square foot store is now displaying the full line of Masterfield Furniture, one of the finest manufacturers in the country, Ramsey said. Because he owns his building and doesn't pay any rent, Ramsey said he's able to save customers around 35 percent compared to other locations.

He's hoping those prices will allow Ramsey's to stay off the square for another 92 years.

 

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