The Generator Celebrates Black History Month
THE BLACK ESTABLISHMENTS OF PINE BLUFF
Yancy’s Furniture and Appliances
Queen Esther Yancy sits regal in her appearance after over fifty years in business at Yancy’s Furniture at 1610 West 2nd Street. Yancy’s Furniture and Appliances began with the late Lewis Yancy, Sr. fixing radios and televisions in 1946. Lewis, Sr. started the business in 1969 at 1602 West Second Avenue and moved across the street shortly after to 1610 West Second Avenue, where the family started to sell furniture along with the appliance business. Queen Esther and her two sons, Lewis Jr., and Cedric run the day-to-day operations. Two grandsons also serve as an intricate part of the family’s daily operation.
The late Lewis Yancy, Sr. is said to have been propelled into the furniture and appliance industry by wanting to do something unique in his community that others were not doing. There was a market for radio and television repair, and Lewis, Sr. saw his chance. Lewis Yancy, Sr. wanted to sell appliances. Queen Esther recalls her husband’s story of walking down a street in Little Rock and spotting sign that said ‘GE’ (General Electric) Coming Soon’. He went in the distribution center and told the store representative that he wanted to sell appliances. The reluctant store representative gave Lewis, Sr. a contract to sell appliances with a condition that he would have to pick the appliances up, because the vendor could not deliver them to him. Lewis, Sr. started to pick the appliances up and bring it back to the community to sell. The Yancy’s started getting appliance merchandise a little at time until they could build the business into the next phase of the business which was furniture.
One of the Yancy’s greatest challenges was getting merchandise. The couple started going to the furniture market in Dallas, Texas. Queen remembers how Dallas, Texas had one of the largest furniture markets in the industry that consisted of three buildings; one building contained thirteen floors, one contained four floors, and one contained two floors. Queen recants that she and Lewis Sr. would be the only black furniture store owners among thousands of people at the market. Lewis Sr. supported other entrepreneurs in the industry by allowing them to have merchandise until they were up and stable to run on their own. Lewis, Sr. supported others because he knew there was not a path to entrepreneurs succeeding in the industry unless someone gave them an opportunity. Queen Esther advises young entrepreneurs to be dedicated and consistent in whatever you do. She says, “you are not going to get rich overnight, but dedication is the main thing.”
When asked what the greatest reward as a business owner has been, Queen Yancy believes it has certainly been their ability to help others. “We try to give people the right information. We counsel customers in how to budget their purchases by not overloading themselves with debt, stated Queen.” Dedicated customers span through families over four generations of purchases through Yancy’s Furniture and Appliances.
COVID-19 has affected Yancy’s Furniture in a positive way. There was an uptick in business because people are taking care of their homes more. Households have been faced with appliances going out, and furniture being more frequently used. The Yancy’s warehouse’s stock has been diminishing more rapidly, because of shipping restraints; and it is an issue that most furniture stores are combating during the pandemic.
The Yancy’s have five children, and five grandsons who have worked in the business. The Yancy’s grandsons lovingly care for their grandmother’s desire to stay engaged in her family’s legacy and be an active part of the business’ operation. Queen Esther Yancy is still on the throne at Yancy’s Furniture and Appliance with complete dedication to being a sustainable Black Establishment for the next generation.
The Generator@GFPB celebrates Yancy’s Furniture and Appliance as Pine Bluff Black Establishments. Yancy’s Furniture and Appliances is located at 1610 West Second Avenue, Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
The Generator Team – February 25, 2021