Jay’s opened March 1, 1992 in this same location. The original building has been added on to on both sides and twice on to the back. What started as 6,000 square feet is today 14,000 square feet of shopping space. Seasonally we use an outside area of about half that size. But if you shop here - you already know all that!
Let me tell you how it all got started!
One night I had a dream. In the dream I saw this store building with a small, cardboard, handwritten sign “For Rent” and a phone number for someone I knew. Then the dream fast-forwarded and we were running this store. There was lumber and stuff all over the front yard and lots of people coming and going. My wife and children were all working there.
In the morning, as I drove to my job at Avera Industrial in Wrens, I thought of my dream. I don’t dream every night but when I do dream it usually happens to me. I rolled this over in my mind and wondered where I’d seen that building. As I crossed the railroad tracks on the south end of town I glanced to my left and my heart about stopped! There was the building and I caught a glimpse of a small cardboard sign! Astonished I pulled in for a closer look. Sure enough - just like in the dream - not only was the sign identical but the phone number belonged to my friend, Brian Lewis!
The building was the former CSRA Farm Supply store. It had been built ten years prior and now had sat empty for several years.
When I got to work I called my wife Mary to tell her about the dream. “Did you call yet?” she asked. “Well no, but I’m getting ready to” I told her. My next call was to Brian Lewis. He said he’d been thinking of calling me for a week or so. He’d even asked a mutual friend or two if they thought I’d be interested. We agreed to meet at noon on my lunch break.
A year before, the previous owners, CSRA, held a weeklong sale to liquidate their remaining inventory. I had stopped in throughout the week looking for bargains. As the sale was ending, I again stopped in and asked about all the leftovers. “Make us an offer” they wearily told me. I offered a lowball $2000 and they took it. This was for all the shelving, contents and a variety of other inventory. The only problem was - I didn’t have the $2000!
I called Larry Hadden (who owns Hadco Vet Supply) after hearing that he had also expressed interest in the inventory. He agreed to take a look and see if there was anything he was still interested in. We hatched a true “in faith” deal where he fronted the money to cover the deal. Then he went through and picked out all the items he wanted. We split the expense 50/50 and he gave me four months to pay my half. It worked out nicely as what he wanted I didn’t and vice versa.
For some odd reason I decided to leave all the shelving and contents in place since the building owner was agreeable to that. I had no immediate plans for the stuff - it was all just “extra”. Then a few months later the bank called and said they were selling the building and I should get my stuff out. So we lugged it all out and stored it at the farm.
Now here I was meeting Brian Lewis at the very building I had so recently lugged my “extra” inventory & shelving from. I remember that meeting like it was yesterday. We just stood in the center of this very empty, desolate building and it ‘felt’ right. I immediately envisioned how to set it all up. I thought of all the stored fixtures and how ironic that I had this “extra” stuff. I remembered how wrong it had felt when we moved all that stuff out just six months earlier.
Brian told me what he had in mind for rent and wondered what I thought. I can still see him standing there, watching me closely, with that “Lewis” twinkle in his eye, as he asked, “What do you think, Jay?”