Fowler Brothers Co. Celebrates 125th Anniversary

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Fowler Brothers Co. is celebrating the firm's 125th anniversary with five generations in the furniture business in East Tennessee.

In 1885, James G. Sterchi began selling goods as a traveling salesman in east Tennessee with a horse drawn buggy pulled by a blind horse. In 1886 James and his brother, John Calvin Sterchi, opened a furniture store in Knoxville. As business progressed John Calvin and his son-in-law John O. Fowler opened Sterchi Brothers and Fowler in 1911, which was located in downtown Chattanooga. In 1930 John O. Fowler and his brothers Frank and Ben incorporated Fowler Brothers Co. in Chattanooga and Knoxville.

After the death of John O. Fowler in 1943, his son, Richard Calvin Fowler, Sr. became president of the Chattanooga company until his death in 1958. His son Richard Calvin Fowler, Jr. became president in 1981.

Richard C. Fowler Jr. introduced “Carolina Pricing.” This concept brought the lowest prices on fine furniture to the area. The most memorable locations were located downtown next to the Tivoli Theater and off of I-24 at 4th Avenue.

To streamline the business, Richard Fowler Jr. and his wife, Sarah C. Fowler, came up with a new vision for the company in the 1980s. This included closing all of the Chattanooga locations except the I-24 campus. As business at the I-24 location progressed into the 1990s Mr. and Mrs. Fowler passed on their experience and heritage to their children, Sarah Chappell Fowler, Richard Calvin Fowler III, and Walton Carter Fowler. The children continued their parents’ vision for the company by updating and bringing the company into the 21st Century.

Today, Richard C. Fowler, Jr. remains the president of the Fowler Brothers Co., which does business as The Furniture Shoppe and The Patio Shop. His son, Carter Fowler, and daughter, Chappell Fowler, are fifth-generation family members and currently work in the business.

As the Fowler Brothers Co. celebrates its 125th birthday, the company and the Fowler family look forward to another 125 years of serving the Chattanooga community and the Southeast, officials said. The present location off I-24 at 4th Avenue is the only location operated by members of the original Fowler Bros. family.

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