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Queens Chronicle

Spear’s Furniture and its stunning Jamaica store

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Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2012 10:30 am

Today we are bombarded with advertising for furniture paid over time with no money down, but that’s hardly a bold new concept.

Spear’s was one of the pioneers of the idea back in the Great Depression of the 1930s. Originally from Pittsburgh, Spear’s consisted of the three brothers, Nathaniel, Alexander and Maurice Spear. Their famous slogan was always placed above their clocks: “We Give You Time.” They knew early on that they could make twice as much money selling furniture paid over time with interest.

They had stores on 23rd and 34th streets and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan and in 1934, at the height of the Depression, boldly came out to Queens and built a magnificent art deco building at 166-02 Jamaica Ave. It was, and remains, one of the most outstanding buildings in Downtown Jamaica.

Many a newlywed couple bought their first bedroom set there. Spear’s also added radios and rugs to their inventory at the new location.

But as the Spear brothers began to pass away and their family’s interest went into other areas in the early 1950s, the company folded. The Jamaica location was replaced with a Sachs Furniture store. Nathaniel, the last of the three brothers, died in retirement in Florida in 1968.

In the 1980s, the building became a multi-retail outlet selling clothing, wigs and costume jewelry. Spear’s is long gone but the building is still regarded as one of the finest examples of commercial art deco architecture ever built in Queens.

Welcome to the discussion.

1 comment:

  • Jonathan Spear posted at 7:08 pm on Sat, Jun 8, 2013.

    Jonathan Spear Posts: 0

    Thank you for sharing this nice photograph, and information about the building. Nathaniel Spear was my great-grandfather. It is true that Alex and Maurice were his brothers. However, Nathaniel died in Pittsburgh in 1947 (not in 1968 Florida).

    From advertising brochures for Spear and Company, which I have found on eBay, I believe that my great-grandfather introduced his policy of buying on credit a few decades earlier than the 1930's. (One such brochure was printed in 1916.)

    I stumbled across your article via an internet search for my family.

    I am glad to know that one of my ancestors left such a beautiful building, which I hope to visit during my next trip to New York city.

    Kind regards, Jon Spear jdspear@LBL.gov