Business Q & A

Five questions with Greg Hephner, owner, Hephner TV & Electronics

Greg Hephner bought his family's Hephner TV & Electronics 20 years ago.

He grew up in the business, which his father, Lonnie, opened as Hephner Radio in 1950.

Today, Greg Hephner bills the store at 737 S. Washington as the largest independent retailer of its kind in the state.

What was it like growing up in the business?

"It was kind of fun, actually. I remember as a kid before schools had all of the TVs in the classrooms, and they were doing the moon landings.... I got the fun of bringing a TV to class.... That was kind of rare."

Aside from the obvious changes in technology, how is the business different today from when your father had the store?

"Just the pace of change is so much faster.... For many, many years, the only changes were a screen size would change an inch or two or you would change the cabinet style depending on what the furniture styles were that year.

"The common thing I hear from customers these days is it used to be simple. You just came in and picked what cabinet you wanted."

How do you compete with the big chains?

"We make sure that our price is going to be comparable to what you see in other stores, but we don't nickel and dime you for all those add-ons."

Still, it's often so hard for independent businesses of any kind to compete with national chains and not get to the brink of closing. How have you managed that?

"I don't know if part of that's stubbornness on our part, I suppose. We're not going to let that happen. We're just not going to allow ourselves to be in a position of weakness. For 60 years that's held. I don't anticipate any changes to that philosophy."

What's something most people don't know about you?

"I am an avid collector of historical autographs.... Like presidents and astronauts and senators and that kind of thing.... I love history, and it's one way to literally touch history."