Carl L. Brown Sr.
Carl Brown 21917 - 1994
“Family Business Man” Carl L. Brown Sr., was a man of intense energy and determination. Mr. Brown had deep interests in the community resulting in his membership in a multitude of groups and organizations, many of which work for the improvement of the African-American Community.
Carl L. Brown was born in Westerville, Ohio on February 9, 1917. He graduated in 1934 from Westerville High School, the only African-American in his class. After receiving a racial slur at his place of employment in 1937, Carl L. Brown left his job. In August of 1937, at only 19 years old and with $84 in his pocket, Carl purchased a Model T pickup truck and began driving up and down the street, selling fruits and vegetables. He rented a fruit and vegetable stand in the East Market and later upgraded to a building at 1053 Mt. Vernon Avenue.
In 1955, Carl L. Brown Sr. further upgraded his business by making it an IGA Franchise and moving it to 1289 Mt. Vernon Avenue. He had two locations open for a period, one at 1053 Mt. Vernon Avenue and a second store at 1289 Mt. Vernon Avenue. His business was such a success, that in 1969, Mr. Brown built a new store located at 1315 Mt. Vernon Avenue. Building the new store required him to obtain one of the largest loans given at that time. On the Grand Opening five-day celebration, he gave away 50 heaping baskets of food to customers. In 1981, Mr. Brown had the idea to further give back to the community and help the less fortunate by holding an annual Christmas shopping spree for five “low income” families. The shopping spree consisted of local celebrities who would grab groceries off the shelves while an employee would follow behind pushing a shopping cart. With sponsors aiding in his idea, Mr. Brown’s shopping sprees grew tremendously from helping five “low income” families to 15 “low income” families.
Not only was Mr. Brown the President of Carl L. Brown Inc, he also served on and was a member of many boards, receiving a great deal of awards and honors. He was a member of the N.A.A.C.P., the East Central Citizens Organization, the Community Action Organization (CMACAO) housing community and was a Treasurer of the Model Cities Neighborhood Assembly. He also served on the board of directors of the Columbus Hospital Federation.
One of the major highlights of his career was being awarded the Recipient of the 1968 Ohio Small Businessman Award given by the Federal Small Business Association (SBA). In 1987, he was selected as a finalist in the business category of the Kool Achiever Awards which recognizes those who improve life for residents of America’s inner cities. He also received various awards from the Independent Grocers Alliance, the Ohio Retail Food Dealers Association and accepted the Distinguished Leadership Award from the Mt. Vernon Avenue District Improvement Association and an Achievement Award from Frontiers International. Carl L. Brown Sr. was the Vice Chairman of the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority and a past president of the Mt. Vernon Avenue District Improvement Association. He served as the Director of Econ Inc., a group of businessmen who strived to build more successful stores and as a Director of the Greater Ohio Showmen's Association that conducted concession stands at the Ohio State
Fair. In 1950, he had a concession stand at the Ohio State Fair for an impressive 30 year span. He sold fresh fruits, slices of watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew, along with hot dogs and a special coney sauce, prepared and perfected by his wife, Dorothy. The fair workers would order the sandwiches with the coney sauce minus the hot dogs.
Carl L. Brown Sr. loved to hire and teach people. He had a number of “Key Employees” that helped to build Carl L. Brown’s IGA. He employed and taught people an outstanding work ethic aiding them to become successful entrepreneurs. Mr. Brown worked 12-18 hours a day and still found the time to expand his business knowledge by taking twilight courses at The Ohio State University for marketing, advertising and corporate finance.
When Mr. Brown passed away in June 1994, at his homegoing the Reverend asked ‘That whoever worked for Carl L. Brown Sr., to please stand up.’ The whole church, even his children and grandchildren stood up. With determination and the support from his family and friends, Carl L. Brown Sr. became a highly respected and successful African-American Business Owner.