By VINCENT CORSO
STATE COLLEGE — Forty-eight years ago, Gary Stover started a business out of his home in the small town of Smullton, and it grew from there. After moving to Millheim and two different State College locations, now is the time for him to retire and close the doors of Stover’s Furniture for good.
On August 10, his 76th birthday, Stover kicked off his last big sale at the store that is “known for them (the sales)” – an exit sale. It will run for approximately 90 days, or until all inventory is sold.
Stover grew up with the nickname “Jake” and over the years customers have known him as “Crazy Jake” because of the deals he did on furniture.
“It started when we were ordering recliners for a buy, get one free sale. They like five or six models for the buy, get one free – like the cheaper models. I said I was going to make them in all the patterns, and he said,
‘Well, you’re crazy if you’re going to do that. You’re not going to make a lot of money,” Stover said. “I said, ‘Well, that’s what I’m going to do,’ and that’s what I did for the next 30 years with him.”
The business started as a small electronics store in Stover’s home in Smullton. Three months after his debut, he was able to find a storefront in an old forge in the small town.
After growing in this space and adding used furniture to the inventory, Stover built a store next to his house. Eventually he moved to Millheim at the location that now houses Elk Creek Café.
Over the years, he also worked at Penn State, and after retiring from PSU in 1992, he opened a second location at State College. The store operated alongside JoAnn Fabrics for 22 years, then moved to its current location in the Nittany Mall, its home for the past seven years.
The past two years have been a challenge for Stover due to inventory issues caused by the pandemic. After her longtime manager told her she was moving to another state, he decided 76 was a good age to retire. An experienced poker player, he plans to play more tournaments now that he will have more free time. He is grateful to his customers for their patronage and business over the years.
His pride in his company is measured by its deep roots.
“It allowed us to feed my family and me. Almost every penny I had over the years I reinvested in the business,” he said.
“I didn’t inherit this or anything like that, and my family wasn’t rich. All I did was keep putting the money back and building it and building it and building it.