Former decorating center owner decides to retire

After selling the family business, the former owner of Seymour Decorating Center has decided to retire.

Brian Jones, 62, of Seymour was introduced to the business through his father, Bob Jones.

His father began working at Neal Paint and Wallpaper in Columbus before he was offered a management position at Seymour Paint and Wallpaper in 1959.

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“Just always been part of the paint business and the decorating business,” Brian said. “That’s what we talked about at the dinner table when we were kids. That was life.”

His father took the position with the condition that he would be able to purchase the business at some point in the future.

For a long time, his requests to purchase the business would be denied, until he presented the owners with an ultimatum.{p dir=”ltr”}“Finally in ‘73 or ‘74, he said, ‘Well, here’s the deal. We’re either going to start a new other business across the street from that one or we’re going to buy this one,’” Brian said.{p dir=”ltr”}His father would purchase the business in 1974, as well as the building currently housing it. The building, located at 220 S. Chestnut St., was originally split into two separate spaces, but his father combined them into one. This is why the front of Seymour Decorating Center is 40 feet, as opposed to the other surrounding spaces, which are 20 feet.

Brian worked for his father part time, but after graduating from Seymour High School in 1976, he went off to college at Indiana University to study biological science with hopes of becoming a dentist.

During his time away, the family business hit a rough patch, and Brian knew his father could really use his help, so he decided to head back home.

“He was in need of help very badly and couldn’t afford to pay much for help because he was just getting started,” he said.

His concern with what was happening back home drew his attention away from his education, and Brian decided to leave school to come back home and support the family business.

“He pretty much mortgaged everything he had to buy the building and the business together, so I came back home to work for him full time,” Brian said.

Seymour Paint and Wallpaper then become his official full-time job for the next nearly 44 years.

“I’ve never looked back,” Brian said.

He said the business has changed quite a bit over that period.

“The store has evolved quite a lot over time. We went from being just a paint store to the paint and decorating concept,” he said.

Brian said the concept of a decorating store was beginning to gain popularity at the national level, which led to the change at his family’s store.

He and his father worked well together. He said that was because his father was excellent with dealing with people and developing those relationships, while Brian considered himself more of the “worker bee.”

Unfortunately, Bob died from pancreatic and liver cancer. The family business was left to Brian and his older siblings, a sister and a brother. His brother died from leukemia at 50, and his sister died from a glioblastoma brain tumor at 54.

Before his sister’s untimely passing, she spent her last five months with Brian. During this time, she asked that he pursue his other passions in life instead of working there forever.

“Don’t get caught up in this store,” she told him.

After that, Brian was unsure what the future held for him.

“After my sister passed away, I wasn’t buying any green bananas, you know?” he said. “I didn’t know what my longevity was going to be. I’m done for. I’ll never make it to 60.”

After that, he vowed if made it to that point, he would move on from the business. He found his chance last year when Shawn Riley and Brett Ferry of Columbus made him an offer to purchase the business.

The offer was presented to him on the same day his wife had planned to retire from teaching. Brian said the overlap of the two events was enough to convince him to accept.{p dir=”ltr”}“The Lord has definitely shined on us here,” he said. “When it comes that clearly, it’s a message you can’t ignore. I took that as a sign that it was a good time to sell.”

Something he is proud of in his career is his store’s commitment to quality products.

“We’ve always striven to not be the low-price leader. We’re the quality leader,” he said.

“We have the option to sell cheaper things. We opt not to. We tend to sell the better things. Over the years, we’ve had the reputation of being rather pricey, but that’s only because we never sold the discount version of things. We sell the good stuff. We’ve always felt the true value of things is in the quality and not the price.”

Brian also takes pride in being able to not only provide customers with a product but also being able to teach them about it.

“A lot of the merchandise we sell here, you can get at Home Depot probably, but the difference is here, we have the experience factor of knowing how to use them and sharing that with everyone,” he said. “Before there was YouTube, we were YouTube.”

Perhaps the thing he is most proud of is being able to gain the trust of his customers over the years.

“Hopefully, the customers we’ve had understand how much I appreciate to have had the opportunity to gain their trust and their loyalty over the years,” he said. “To have someone invite you into their home, to do work on personal things in their home, it’s an awesome privilege to be able to do that. That’s one of the true blessings of being able to do this for so long.”

Brian plans to spend his retirement with his wife of 41 years. They plan to travel, work on projects and spend time with their seven grandchildren. They also have an eighth grandchild on the way.{p dir=”ltr”}“A lot of maintenance on the home,” Brian said. “We do have a little cottage out on Lutheran Lake that we hope to spend time at. That needs a lot of work, too. I enjoy those type of things. Pounding 2-by-4s, sawing and cutting wood and that sort of thing, to me, that’s recreation. I’d rather do that than eat, so we have a lot of that in our future.”