Brown Lumber to expand into old Fred’s building

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA — Brown Lumber and Building Supply in Columbiana has purchased the building that formerly housed Fred’s and has shared plans of expanding its operations into the building.

Vice President Andrew Brown said the expanded space would not be seen by customers, as it would most likely be used for warehousing, but the move would help increase the business’ buying power and diversify its clientele.

“It’s just more elbow room and storage space, things of that nature,” Brown said. “This will give us some poise, some resources, some space to sell customers some more things.”

While many businesses have suffered during the last year due to the economic impact of COVID-19, others like Brown Lumber have thrived in response to a booming construction industry. With many people spending more time at home, the industry saw a sharp increase in home projects, while others wanted to move into larger homes, resulting in lower construction rates and increased demand, Brown indicated.

“We’re bursting at the seams on what our capacity is, and we’re landlocked to some degree. The opportunity came up to buy that (building), and it was just an easy decision as it’s connected to our property,” he said.

Brown added he had turned down some business—for example, customers who wanted to give him all their window business—due to inadequate space to serve the need. He seems optimistic that the added space will make such a venture possible. Another plus is that the former Fred’s building already has loading docks.

In the long term, Brown is hopeful that the growth will result in not only new customers but also more job opportunities.

“Now, not tomorrow, but in due time, once we get in that building and get it set up like we want and get it operating like we want, we will be able to tell those customers yes,” Brown said.

Brown and his father, Andy, operate the business started by Andrew’s grandfather, who was in the sawmill business and opened the store in the early 1970s. The store is located at 21891 Alabama 25.