By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – Jasper Fontenot hasn’t missed a single Tupelo Furniture Market during its 29-year run, and isn’t about to cut back his visits.
Fontenot, whose family owns Brown’s Furniture Showplace, received the National Buyer Appreciation Award from the market on Thursday.
“It’s a great honor,” he said. “I’ve been coming here since the first market in 1987. I love the furniture business, I love Tupelo, I love the market here.”
Fontenot said Tupelo has been a major part of the success of his business.
“Tupelo has taken me from the cotton fields to the sweeping floors at the furniture store to selling furniture,” he said. “We look forward to coming to market here twice a year. We buy furniture, sell it, promote it and everything else. It’s always been a great market for us.”
While the industry has been a bit slow in recent months, Fontenot said the deals he’s able to secure in Tupelo enable him to pass along the savings to customers back home.
He said Mississippi should continue to push and promote the furniture industry, which generates more than 40,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Northeast Mississippi has long billed itself as the upholstered furniture capital of the world with its hundreds of manufacturers and suppliers.
“It’s always a pleasure to buy in Mississippi, because you can buy today and get it two weeks later,” Fontenot said, noting that he bought eight truckloads of furniture last week, which were delivered Thursday.
“Mississippi is very important to us,” he said.
Fontenot started his furniture industry career in 1962 at age 18, going to work for Brown’s Furniture in Louisiana.
Brown’s, founded in 1939 by Herbert Brown, launched in Opelousas. Other locations were added in Ville Platte, Baton Rouge and Lafayette.
Fontenot was the top salesman and store manager of the Ville Platte store in 1978 when he became a part-owner of the business. His family now are the sole owners of Brown’s.