By Jim Bob Key
For many years, I soloed Ernest Charles’ piece, “When I Have Sung My Song I’ll Sing No More.” How true that statement rings for me as our family ends a near century of furniture, gifts, family, friends, and tradition as Choate’s Inc.
On Jan. 2, 1942, my father-in-law, L.J. Choate, opened Choate’s as a retail furniture store on the corner of North Street and College Avenue where the parking lot of Neebo stands today. His vision became our family’s mantra, and over the years expanded to include the largest collection of home interiors from the finest manufacturers. An extensive gift department and bridal and baby registry became of the trademarks of Choate’s; brides and mothers have made lifelong decisions that have passed generations of Natchitoches families and are now embedded seamlessly in tradition across the world.
Betty and I assumed the family tradition in 1970 when we moved the business to its current location on Highway 1 South, now South Drive. Our daughter, Pam, and now her son, Andrew, assumed the major part of the day-to-day operations following Betty’s death in 2008. Their vision transitioned Choate’s to reflect the choices of today’s young families. Also, I cannot forget Jimmy DeBlieux and Jane Johnson who both gave a significant part of their lives to the success of our business.
It has never been our desire to end this tradition. The long-term overhaul of South Drive did not position us to succeed. The proposed construction timeline was 12 months; it ultimately took 30 months to complete the job. We had no choice but to live through it. Though the roads look much better and are now better traveled, we were left without a navigable parking lot (a circle drive in the front), making it nearly impossible for our customers to patronize the store. We even struggle with deliveries.
We are indebted to our Natchitoches family, not to mention our families in the surrounding areas. You welcomed us into your homes, included us in your family celebrations, and you trusted us to make a home YOUR home. That feeling of accomplishment will travel with our family forever. Mr. and Mrs. Choate, Betty, Pam, Andrew and I thank you for that wonderful opportunity.
“…We’ve worked so hard to hold our dreams, just you and I. I could not share them again…”
I have sung my song, and I’ll sing no more.