A fire could be enough to put you out of business. It did, in fact, for a year to and four other businesses in Northborough. In 2008, arsonists destroyed a section of the strip mall on Main Street.
It took a year to rebuild and open back up, and by then, the economy had tanked.
Dave Brown, owner of Brown's, said it's been tough to fight the intermingling setbacks, but the business is surviving, thanks to regrowing its loyal customer, savvy businesses practices and improving the selection.
Brown's dad and brother started the business in 1960, originally a storefront above Sawyer's Bowladrome on Blake Street. Brown took over as owner in the mid '80s, he said. He's been located at 243 West Main St. for "at least 25 years."
"It's not easy," remarked Brown, but adds that his approach is one that combats the larger chains by offering service that can sometimes only be found at the local level. And, he keeps the prices competitive by belonging to a buying group.
"We can match anybody's price," he said. "We offer personalized service, free delivery and setup, and service."
Starting as a TV store, Brown's evolved into a video rental shop for a good 20 years, and when they knew the rental business was "on the way out," Brown's phased in appliances in 2000.
"It was a good decision," said Brown. "My appliances are beating the electronics sales."
With the holiday season upon us, Brown said he's optimistic, and he's optimistic that he'll ride out the economic downturn and come out on top.
"We are still recovering from the fire, because insurance only pays so much," said Brown. "We lost a lot, not to mention the customer base. We got hit twice—the fire and then the economy. It is tough and I have my moments, but we do have customers who remember us."