We at PROWN’S are very pleased to be celebrating our 98th anniversary of our 3rd generation family business.
It all started on July 20th 1925, when my grandfather, Max Prown, went into the 5¢ & 10¢ business with Mr. Julius Cooper. The store, named “PROWN-COOPER”, was located at 47 Broad Street (known then as the Truex Building, now the present location of Olde Monmouth Candies). Products included school dresses for $.87, coal scuttles for $.49 and phonograph records for $.39!
In 1929, my grandfather bought the business out from Cooper and the store became known as National 5¢, 10¢, & $1.00 stores (Because we expanded to 6 store locations from Woodbridge to Lakewood). The multiple locations didn’t work out that well as my grandfather spent most of the time in his car. So he closed all the stores except Red Bank. The store name was changed to Prown’s with our famous slogan “PROWN’S has everything” (even today we still carry everything for your home improvement needs).
One evening in August, 1960, an electrical short led to a major fire that completely devastated the store and several other shops and offices. That fire required 350 firemen and 6 hours to put out. My grandfather learned of the fire when driving home from a Rotary Club barbecue with his wife Matilda. Seeing all the excitement in town, he asked a fireman where the fire was. That fireman, not knowing my grandfather, simply replied, “PROWN’S” – can you imagine the look on my grandfather’s face!
Although 61-years-old at the time, as early as the day after the fire, my grandfather announced that he would rebuild bigger & better than ever. With the help of several local businesses, they were able to continue to operate the home improvement division from a temporary location.
On February 15, 1961, Max Prown and his 40 proud employees re-opened at 32 Broad Street. At this location, the store continued to prosper, selling “EVERYTHING” for the home.
In the summer of ‘68, my grandfather died suddenly and quietly one evening at home with Matilda. My father, Jules D. Prown, a professor at Yale when he inherited the business, announced that the store would continue under the leadership of his cousin and long-time store General Manager, Edward A. Straus.
After working several years in the store, I was very pleased to be asked to carry on the family business as President following the retirement of Edward Straus in the early ‘90s. Much of our success can be linked to our very close and long-time relationship with our customers. As stated several times by Ed Straus, “Our employees have built up confidence among our customers. We deal in politeness – our selling staff clings to old fashioned virtues and treats every customer as they themselves would like to be treated”.
Although Prown’s is 97 years old, we all know that age is a state of mind. With that and the changing nature of traditional retail, we re-configured to become exclusively Prown’s Windows & Doors in 2003.
We moved to a new revitalized and revamped showroom space on Monmouth St. in Red Bank that exclusively featured our home improvement products.
Now 13 years later in 2015, we decided to reinvigorate again and move to a very visible location ) in the Colony Plaza strip at 669 St. Hwy 35 N. Middletown.
There are folks out there who only know us as a store their grandparents frequented. It’s our job to create a new link to their lives and become the store they remember when they tell THEIR grandchildren about Prown’s Home Improvements.
THANK YOU !!
David M. Prown