Patterson’s Department Store, A Feature of Local Business. . . Success Achieved by Fair Dealing, Good Nerve and Hard Work
Some of the most interesting stories are the true ones, and not infrequently the life story of a business shows courage and nerve well worthy of “honorable mention” in the history of a town. A case in point is the business whose name heads this column.
In September 1906, Mr. H. Patterson came to Hendersonville from Kentucky, where he had two mercantile businesses. He started business in a small way here, opening a dry-goods store in a floor space 20 by 75. Mrs., Patterson conducted the business, while Mr. Patterson devoted his time to the two stores in Kentucky and also one which in the mean time he had opened at Brevard. The little business started off well enough, but illness in the family and the demands of the other stores brought troubles, and in September of 1907, the “panic year,” an assignment was necessary. The creditors, however, were satisfied with the payment made, and another start was made at Third and Main streets. This venture was so well on the way to success that Mr. Patterson was enabled to pay up every cent of the indebtedness left after the assignment, the creditors thus being paid in full. However, the payment of these back debts was a heavy load and to lay in more stock he was obliged to borrow. The lender unexpectedly demanded payment in full, and a sale of the entire stock was forced. The proceeds of the sale met the obligation, but Mr. Patterson had to start all over again, with nothing to show for his hard work, and practically nothing with which to make another start.
Unable to float another mercantile venture, he opened a pressing club in the old Toms Building where the Citizens Bank now stands. To help him he had no one but Mrs. Patterson and a sister, and he himself had the work to do; he did it by getting on the job at 5 o’clock in the morning and staying on it until far into the night. Good work, however, brought its reward in increased business, and the pressing club, with better equipment, was moved into larger quarters where Dotson’s Harness Shop is now located. After a time the profits of the business made it possible to put in a small line of men’s clothing.
Again the story was one of hard work and slow but steady growth, and another move to larger quarters was made, the business being moved into half of the Station Rock Building on Main Street, and by 1913 continued growth demanded the entire building. A year or two more, and it became evident that even this was going to be outgrown shortly, and in January 1917 a contract was made with J.M. Gudger for the erection of a really modern department store building at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Main Street, the very center of the town’s business life. Work was started on the new building in April, and the contract called for completion by July, but war conditions delayed the actual completion until January of 1918, when the business was moved into its present home.
The business as it stands today is a splendid monument to good nerve, hard work, and fair dealing and final success has been wrung from repeated disaster. One of the largest mercantile businesses in this section of the state, it is housed in quarters that would do credit to the retail district of any city in the country. The store now employs 15 people regularly, and adds many more at busy seasons. The two floors 54 by 108 feet, as well as the large mezzanine floor, are taxed to their capacity by the demands of the business and arrangements are now being made to convert the large hall on the second floor into a stock room. Many thousands of dollars are invested in the handsome furniture and equipment, mahogany and plate glass are everywhere, while overhead a modern cash trolley connecting the cashier’s desk with every part of the store is kept busy handling its load of money. While the stock of goods literally includes every item of clothing which can be wanted for man, woman or child, from the top of the head to the sole of the foot; nothing is omitted.
The atmosphere of the whole establishment is one of prosperity and growth; of success; of good business. And it is deserved. This sketch gives but an outline of the difficulties which have been met and overcome in the building up of this establishment. The result is one which has been achieved by hard work and unfailing nerve, by close attention to every feature of the business, and by unvarying fair treatment of the patrons of the store.
In addition to achieving business success Mr. Patterson has written his name plainly as one of the most generous and public spirited citizens of the town. In outright gifts for different charitable purposes over $500 was expended last year, and Mr. Patterson’s name appears unfailingly opposite a generous subscription in every movement for the benefit of Hendersonville. He believes in the town, and his faith is backed by works—and hard cash.