What is it - for you the reader - that conjures feelings of sentimentality?
Is it seeing something you haven’t seen in a long while that makes you remember it fondly?
Maybe it’s as simple as smelling something that reminds you of your mother’s kitchen - and how you wish you could smell it again?
Or, is it something that’s no longer there that makes you wish it were, so you could experience it one more time?
I’m pretty lucky because I get to experience that feeling every time I walk through the doors of Gibson’s Discount Center.
No, this isn’t an advertorial that Gibson’s paid for, it’s just that as a child growing up in Bowie I remember Gibson’s with...sentimentality.
Every weekend, if we were lucky, our parents would take us there where we could purchase an Icee or some popcorn that shopper could smell wafting throughout the store. In fact, years later when the store closed, my dad actually purchased the popcorn machine and moved it into his newspaper, the Bowie News.
After moving away from home I thought I’d never see another Gibson’s until the day I drove into Weatherford and lo and behold it was like being reacquainted with an old friend. Truth is it was almost identical to the way I remembered it, only bigger. It’s the one store where you could buy ammunition for your deer rifle, pickup a toy or two for the kids, something for the wife and be on your way. One stop shopping.
I found out by speaking with co-owners Tommy and Barbara Holladay that Gibson’s in Weatherford first opened in October, 1965. Tommy said he went to work for the company two months later. In 1969 Gibson’s then moved to its current location.
“We were the only discount store around,” recalled Tommy. “Of course business back then isn’t half of what Gibson’s does today.”
Barbara said that timing hasn’t always been perfect as evidenced when the couple bought the business in 1986.
“Wouldn’t you know it the oilfield crunch hit,” Barbara said. “Then we got word of a new big box retailer was coming to town.”
Nevertheless, Gibson’s persevered and with a loyal fan base was even chosen as Small Business of the Year in 2006 by the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce.
“We’ve got a lot of good customers and quite a few that come from out of town to shop with us,” Barbara said. “We still have a lot of people that stop in and tell us this store reminds them of their childhood.”
Moving forward Gibson’s has become a family affair with son Jack Holladay and son-in-law Bobby Seidler, Tammy Seidler and Cathy Holladay, assisting with day-to-day operation of the business.
“We’re just trying to perfect what we do,” said Jack. “Our challenges aren’t unlike any other business. We weed out the things that don’t work, and promote the things that do.”
When the store first opened health and beauty aids were the biggest seller but over time sporting goods has taken over.
Barbara said though, for the do-it-yourself enthusiast, the store has lots of fabric for those talented with a needle. She said the store still carries classic toys, games and puzzles.
“We have quite a bit of everything,” Barbara said.
Tommy said he thanks God every day for how good He has been to them.
I can’t help but wonder what generations to come will look upon with that kind of sentimental fervor. Hopefully, the coin operated horse in front of Gibson will still be giving little buckaroos the ride of their life. It was for me.