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.