Notes and Documents
The History and Modus Operandi of a
Small Merchant through Two World Wars
and the Great Depression
J. ARMAND LANIER*
TO DISPEL ANY DOUBT AS TO THE CHANGED STATUS OF THE SMALL DRY
goods store in recent decades, one has but to traverse the court-
house squares and business districts of small-town America. Obviously,
there are still profitable family enterprises in these settings, but conspic-
uously fewer than before the incursion of malls and mammoth chains.
Julian Augustus Lanier's entrepreneurship (1905-1948) spanned an
era prior to such changes. A small-town small merchant, his businesses
typified many of the family stores of that day. For example, he did not
succeed in branching out his business, as did one of his competitors in
Jacksonville, Texas, "3 Beall Brothers 3."' Neither did he amass great
profits or property. On the other hand, he did subsist throughout the
Great Depression; build residences in Newton, Jacksonville, and Jasper
for his family; and live at an upper middle-class level-all from his busi-
ness alone, and despite having been burned-out once, robbed three
times, and victimized with threats to his person and family. In short, he
could be called a successful small businessman.
* J. Armand Lanier is a retired high school counselor and vocational consultant with the
Texas Rehablhtation Commission's Disability Determination Division For detailed editing I
would like to thank Randolph G. Bias, Ph.D.; Richardine Acton Evans, and H. Paul Kelly, Ph.D.,
and his wife, DeCourcy. For reviews and support I am indebted to the Rev. Joe Ader and Anne;
William H. Bmgham, atty., Carter Cook, the Hon. Thomas M. Reavley; and to my wife, Nancy.
' Tom Dean Stevens to J. Armand Lanier, Aug. 2o, 1999, interview, notes in author's posses-
sion. Stephens, a retired, longtime employee with Beall Brothers, stated their first store had been
at Henderson, Texas, and that by the early 193os Beall's had expanded to seven stores. He
added that they were in Jacksonville, Texas, as early as 1929, and therefore were in competition
withJ. A. Lanier at that time.
SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. CVI, No. 1
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed July 13, 2014.