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Sunday, April 18, 2021

The 1968 Grand Opening of Gibson's Discount Center in Kerrville

Gibson's Discount Center, Kerrville, May 1968.
Click on any image to enlarge

This week I came across a few photographs of the grand opening of Gibson’s Discount Center, which were taken in May, 1968.
A free string of pearls
Gibson’s Discount Center, as everyone knows, has been an important part of Kerr County since it opened. A frequent quote here for the past five decades: “if you can’t find it at Gibson’s, you probably don’t need it.” Most of the time they have what you are looking for, even if what you’re looking for is not easy to find anywhere else. And there are plenty of people there to help you find that obscure item, even when you’re not sure what it’s called.
Walking into Gibson’s is like walking into the past – a general store filled with everything from plumbing supplies to toys, sporting goods to garden tools.
Shopping for bargains
The Kerrville Gibson’s franchise was originally owned by Morris and Gloria Harris, who also owned Gibson’s franchise stores in Fredericksburg, Brady, Junction and Pleasanton at one time, according to a 2018 news article in this newspaper. Today, the Kerrville store is owned by the Kemp and Wilks families, I believe.
I’m old enough to remember when the Gibson’s building was under construction, and I’m old enough to remember when the store opened.
First Ad
According to a “Grand Opening” advertisement in the May 1, 1968 issue of the Kerrville Mountain Sun, a three-day celebration was planned for the weekend of May 2-4, at “our new store, 99 W. Main.”
The first 500 ladies to visit the store in 1968 received a “free string of pearls.”
Other specials included 9 cent hand lotion, $1.77 garden hoses, $4.88 Zebco Spin-Cast rod and reel, 44 cent cans of Aqua Net hair spray, and $1.33 men’s putter pants (“Girls like ‘em too”).
Many more grand-opening specials were offered. “Shop thru-out the store…you’ll find many special values that are not advertised. Look for new special values arriving daily. Many items that had not arrived in time for our opening ad are coming daily, and will be put on special.”
The familiar sign
Herbert “Herb” R. and Belva Gibson opened Gibson Novelty Company in Abilene, Texas in 1936. By 1978, when the Gibson’s Discount Centers chain was at its largest, 684 stores could be found across the country, including stores in Hawaii and Guam.
Changing times, and competition from other national discount chains eventually ended the Gibson’s national chain; today the Kerrville store and a “Gibson’s Ace Hardware” store in Weatherford, Texas still carry the Gibson’s name. Both are independently owned. 
My late father loved shopping at Gibson’s, in part because one of his best friends, the late David McCutchen, managed the Kerrville store for many years.
Gibson's as it appeared in 2018
One Saturday, years ago, I told Ms. Carolyn I needed to go grab something at Gibson’s.
“Tell your father hello,” she replied. We both laughed, and I headed to the store.
While there, of course, I ran into my dad.
“Carolyn says hi,” I told him, as I headed to the plumbing supplies aisle. He had a puzzled look on his face, but was happy to receive the greeting.
Even though Dad’s been gone since 2012, I still look around for him whenever I’m shopping at Gibson’s.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects historical items from Kerr County and Kerrville. If you have something you’d care to share with him, it would make him very happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times April 17, 2021

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  1. For a really lengthy history of Gibson's, including how Gibson and Sam Walton (WalMart) knew each other, go to

  2. Gibson's is one of the few icons of my youth. My grandmother, Odie Beaver, bought my brother and I each a pocket AM radio one year on our annual summer stay with her and our grandfather Ples. We also had a Gibson's in Brownwood as I distinctly recall my best friend from Junior High taking a job there for which I'd interviewed. It closed after I joined the Navy. Had no idea it all began in Abilene and I don't recall one there.


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