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Biz History: The goods on ABC Distributing

Biz History

The goods on ABC Distributing

By Deanna Hindsley

Damon Jones is proud of his years in business providing merchandise for stores of various kinds as the sign explains: “Specializing in Jobbers and Flea Market Sales”

He is even more proud of the fact that he and his wife Pat inspired daughter Debbie Green, son Kevin and a grandson, Derreck to stay in the business. It’s a family business in the true sense.  I see several other employees stocking shelves, loading stock into trucks and manning the cash register.

In 1954, just after his discharge from the army, Damon went to work for Farm and Home Supply, whose motto “Everything Under the Sun” said it all. Although Damon didn’t go to a college in the regular sense, he insists that his boss, Lee Frazier, was his “Professor”, teaching him – well, everything under the sun! That business closed in 1960 and Damon decided he could begin doing the same thing, which was what he knew and loved.

He didn’t have a semi-truck like his” professor” had, but he had a 1957 Ford station wagon and $130 in his pocket to buy merchandise. So, he loaded up that station wagon and started calling on the stores he knew to sell his merchandise.

He laughed, and said, “I always joked that when I made that $130 back, I’d retire.”

Well, I’ll bet he made back that $130 a more than a few years ago but at age 84 he’s still there. Pat worked with him for over 30 years before retiring, but he’s still there, working with his daughter, son, and grandson. Pat comes in to visit.

After a year of working from home and selling from his station wagon, he “moved on up” to a rented 1200 square foot building on Oliver Avenue of Indianapolis’ west side. He named the business Avenue Bargain Center and ran it as a retail business. Retail didn’t really suit him as well as the wholesale business, and so after few years, he moved the business to West Morris Street and returned to the wholesale business. He re-named the business ABC Distributing, using the initials of Avenue Bargain Center.  Gee, I had assumed the ABC part was, well, the ABC’s we all know!

Customers followed him, and the business grew, so in 1979 he bought the current property in Plainfield on South SR 267 and built the current building. With continued growth, he built three more buildings, some used as warehouses.

Now, the south side of Plainfield is filled with warehouses, but “We were really the first warehouse built in this area.” Damon says with a grin. “Back then, the only other businesses on this road between I-70 and US 40 were two gas stations.”

Damon’s daughter, Debbie, joined us, and I asked if she had grown up in Plainfield, and she proudly said yes. The family moved to Plainfield in 1970 and both she and her brother still live in this area.

Community involvement is also important to this family business, and when I asked how they reach out to the community, Damon said that besides selling to businesses, individuals can come in and buy, getting their wholesale prices.

Damon explained, “Many groups come in buses for a field trip.  Damar Services brings in a group of their clients, and they enjoy going up and down the aisles and picking out items to buy.” Also, other groups, such as assisted living communities take field trips to ABC, and the residents love to shop.

It’s obvious that ABC Distributors loves helping others, and Damon goes on to explain a ministry that his son, Kevin is involved, Amazing Grace. It is a west side Indianapolis ministry and ABC donates toys for the underprivileged children at Christmas time.

As I walk the aisles, I see everything, as Damon’s daughter, Debbie describes, “From toys to tools”.  Also, I see home and garden decorative pieces, and knick-knack items like you might find in a convenience store, and even a pair of false eyelashes! Of course, this is where many convenience stores buy their merchandise. Wow, so many surprises! From local to statewide, to out of state, store owners rely on ABC Distributors to fill their shelves.

It’s a fun visit, and I like knowing ABC was one of the first of its kind, right here in Hendricks County’s south SR267 in Plainfield!

 

 

 

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