Family ties built E.L. Klinner Furniture

Published 4:24 pm Thursday, October 4, 2018

By J.R. TIDWELL/ Editor  and JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Many of Chilton County’s family-owned businesses have been a part of the community for several decades.

One such business is E.L. Klinner Furniture Company in Clanton. E.L. Klinner Furniture Company was founded in Birmingham by current owner John Klinner’s father, E.L. Klinner in October 1925.

E.L. Klinner was about 25 when he started the business. He had worked for another furniture company in Birmingham before getting into business for himself.

“He borrowed $5,000 from his sister to open, and he paid that back,” Klinner said.

Eventually, many of E.L. Klinner’s brothers and sisters became a part of the furniture business.

“Over the years, I have had all my aunts and uncles pretty invested in the business,” Klinner said.

These aunts and uncles opened locations throughout Alabama, each with different names but all including Klinner.”

The first Clanton location was opened in 1933.

The store focuses on having popular furniture styles.

“We try to meet the needs of the majority of the people,” Klinner said.

Delivery and setup services are also offered.

“If we sell you something and you have a problem with it, we try to take care of that problem,” Klinner said.

He said the store will help with issues, such as a mechanism on a recliner not working properly, within a year of the purchase.

After the original Clanton store was opened, other Klinners established shops in the area.

“At one time there were three different Klinners that had three different stores in this town in competition with each other,” Klinner said.

One uncle had owned a service station in Clanton but moved into the furniture industry when he saw his siblings were making more money.

The way businesses run and process transactions has changed in many ways since E.L. Klinner Furniture Company first came to Clanton, but Klinner said the company has retained its commitment to good customer service.

The E.L. Klinner store moved to a location Highway 31 in the 1940s.

In the 1960s, some of Klinner’s aunts and uncles decided to get out of the furniture business or decrease some the number of stores they owned. During this time, Klinner’s father bought Klinner Dickinson Furniture Co. in Clanton that had been owned by Alma Klinner.

In 1968, the E.L. Klinner store business moved to another spot on Highway 31 across from its current location

In the 1970s, E.L. Klinner started another location in Alabaster and established his company as E.L. Klinner Furniture Company Inc. with the Clanton businesses (the original store and the Klinner Dickinson Furniture Co. location) being a proprietorship.

John Klinner became the owner in 1978.

The store relocated to its current location in 1987. The building had been a Ford dealership at one time.

In 1979, the Klinner business in town expanded again when they purchased the building across the street and opened what would become Classic Rent to Own. The building had previously been a bus station with a restaurant and a Goodyear store. The business offers a variety of options for those needing items for a short time or those wanting to purchase items over time.