Billy's Britches - Our family business
Although I loved life on the road when I was young, it was not a lifestyle that was great for a growing family, and I needed something more to do in order to generate income for our family. My brother Charlie was in the clothing business and told me about a factory in Alabama where I could buy men's IR (irregular) pants and sell them at flea markets. I went, I bought ... and the rest is history! I sold clothes to the circus performers when I was doing ringmaster work, and that was a great income generator.
My wife and I sold just about everywhere that we could get the okay to sell, most notably the Ripley First Monday flea market, where you had to arrive early and it was like a "stampede" to get a good space! We also set up two tables in front of our rental building on Main Street in Verona, MS and sold on from the sidewalk. Since the pants were irregulars, my wife, Sue, hemmed and repaired the pants, and if we could not repair them, we cut them off and sold them as walking shorts.
We started selling ladies pant suits, tops and blouses, along with men's leisure suits. Business was going great, I made more off my clothing sales than I did working shows! We rented the old City Hall building and later purchased it, and that was the beginning of the "Billy's Britches Clothing Store".
We had people from surrounding states that would make the trip to Billy's Britches a family event. Our busiest time was the month prior to school starting - folks would come from all over and put together the kids outfits for the school year. That was a really special time of year, the kids were so excited to leave with all their new clothes and ready for the school year.
I enjoyed handling all of our advertising and made sure to get the kids involved. Our television commercial where my son Cliff (about 5 or 6 years old) said, "Shop Billy's Britches - that's my mom and dad's store!" was one of my favorite commercials!