Furniture business keeps family busy

Published 9:37 pm Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ernest L. Klinner borrowed $500 from a sister in Gadsden 84 years ago and opened his furniture store on the north side of Birmingham.

He was all of 25–years–old, but had already been drafted to WWI (although it was over before he saw action), been trained as a telegraph operator and had been a streetcar conductor. By 1931, Klinner opened a store in Clanton. The Klinner name has been connected with stores in Opelika, Selma and Tuscaloosa and now operates two stores in Clanton and one in Alabaster.

His son John Klinner was born in 1946. John went on to graduate from Auburn University in 1968 with a master’s degree in industrial design.

John followed his father’s footsteps into the Army.

He was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. and wound up at Ft. Belvoir, Va. John married in October of 1968 and was then stationed in Germany. He and wife Linda both say they loved Germany. Later on he built roads in Vietnam and was promoted to Captain. After four years in the military, Klinner was employed by Gulf States Paper as a structural engineer/package designer.

John shifted gears in 1978 to keep his father’s business alive. In 1988, three stores were closed in Birmingham. The Clanton location was redone in 1981.

Although financially able to travel at this point in their lives, John and his wife, choose a very typical Southern life style. John reads a lot, and loves to piddle around the house and in his surrounding woods. Both love staying home.

John is chairman of the deacons at Mulberry Baptist, a teacher in Sunday School to 12-15 year olds and is involved in the Gideon organization. They go to Tupelo, Miss., to market, take an anniversary trip and attend the Furniture Convention in San Destin each year.

Their furniture store on Main Street in Alabaster is set up beautifully. Son-in-law Doug Hamilton and manager Linda Caputo do the daily work. Doug is married to the Klinner’s daughter Shelley. They will produce the first Klinner grandchild in April.

Sandra Thames is a community columnist for Alabaster. She can be reached by e–mail at