John B. Sanders & Company
Largest General Merchants in Northern Kentucky
About the best known mercantile institution in Grant county is the general country store of John B. Sanders & Company, located at Dry Ridge, this county. It is a mammoth affair, big in general proportions, big in the stock carried, the business done and the annual sales which amount to more than $60,000.00 every year.
All of the Sanders family are interested in this store. John B. is the active head of the firm and the business runs in his name; his father, Peter Sanders, is a partner, and both Mrs. Pete Sanders and the wife of John B. are interested in the business. The business, however, is the outgrowth of the incessant toil, business acumen and good common sense of the head of the firm, John B. Sanders. For a man who began life at the very foot of the ladder he has accomplished wonders, and is every day doing more and better for himself and the community in which he has pitched his tent.
Mr. Sanders was born in Pendleton county, Kentucky, October 16, 1860, his parents were in humble circumstances in life and he was brought up to the labor and the hardships of the farm with little chance for an education or a start in life. Early in life his parents moved to Kenton county and there he grew to manhood, or at least he reached that time in life when he started out for himself, determined to make something in the world and win by his labor and persistency a competency. His first business venture was in the huckster or peddling business. When he was sixteen years old he bought a wagon and two horses and started out to buy produce and sell such goods as the country people would buy. He ran his wagon in the counties of Boone, Pendleton, Grant and Kenton. He continued in this business for four years, or until he was twenty years old, and in the meantime he had accumulated and laid away $1,200.00.
In the spring of 1880 he bought a store-house at Dividing Ridge, in Pendleton county, and the next season bought a small stock of goods from Commodore Price, at Doudton, and moved them to Dividing Ridge, and set up as a store-keeper for himself. He continued his huckster wagons and conducted the store for seven years on the push and go ahead plan which has won for him his enviable position in the business world. In 1887 he sold out his Dividing Ridge store, real estate and all, to W. J. Stephens, R.J. Hill and A. Sanders for $14,500.00 cash and moved to a farm near California in Kenton county. For a time he looked around for a good location, and finally about three months later bought the store at Dry Ridge, including the real estate, from Lemmon & Northcutt for $8,500.00, and there he has been to this day. It is a familiar story to all Grant county people how the small country store with one floor and cramped quarters at Dry Ridge has grown into the present mammoth enterprise.
The store-rooms of J.B. Sanders & Company now consist of three buildings. The main store or dry goods and grocery department is located on the west side of the street, and is a fine building 100 feet deep by 60 feet wide with two stories and a basement. It is arranged into departments and every line of goods that one could call for is found in this building. Clothing, millinery, hats, caps, boots, shoes, umbrellas, cottons, novelties and notions, fine silks and ladies’ dress goods, blankets, comforts, men’s and boys’ clothing, groceries and hardware are the prominent features.
Across the street next to the Dry Ridge Deposit Bank is a three-story building recently erected, sixty feet deep and forty wide, which is devoted exclusively to undertaking, furniture, stoves, beds and heavy hardware, and a little south of this store-room and on the same side of the4 street is the buggy and wagon depository and the farming implement department, fifty feet deep, forty feet wide and two stories. It is full of fine vehicles, and one department of it is fitted up for a fine paint and varnish room with a skilled carriage painter in charge. To attempt to enumerate the many articles carried in stock by Mr. Sanders would take too long and occupy too much space. He will sell you anything from a saw mill to a paper of pine or a thimble, and most of these things he has in stock. To wait on his enormous trade requires the services of a goodly array of clerks. Sometimes he has had employed as many as twenty in the various departments of his store. He does all the buying himself, and no stock is too big if it is a bargain for him to “tackle.” If he secures a bargain by buying out at forces sale an entire stock of goods he sends it on to Dry Ridge in special cars and sells it to his trade just like he buys it, at a bargain.
J. B. Sanders & Co. are now carrying a stock valued at $30,000.00 and insured for nearly that amount. They receive goods every day in the year and keep no old goods on hand. Their annual sales have exceeded $60,000.00 for the past half a dozen years and this year promises to break all records.
On each side of the main store building, and in an elegant lot and not many feet away from the building, is the residences of the two heads of this firm, and two more sightly residences cannot be found in Dry Ridge. The residence on the right of the store is occupied by Peter Sanders and his wife, and the residence on the left is occupied by J.B. Sanders and his wife and two lovely daughters. In addition to these two residences and the real estate used for store purposes, J.B. Sanders and other members of the firm own quite a number of nice residences and other real estate in Dry Ridge, and all told the real estate belonging to the firm and the various members of the family is worth well on to $20,000.00.
J.B. Sanders & Co. do a strictly cash business. They buy for cash and discount all of their bills and sell for cash as far as it is possible to do in a country store. They are surrounded, however, on every side with rich farmers and a fine country and very little credit is asked for, and this they always extend.
John B. Sanders was united in marriage to Miss Laura Gray June 10, 1882, and to this union two children have been born, Miss Maud and Miss Nina, both at the present time being student at the Millersburg Female Seminary, a school of the Methodist church. They are lovely young ladies, just blooming into perfect womanhood, and are the charm and delight of the life of their parents.
All of the Sanders family, from the oldest to the youngest, are active members of the Methodist Church South, and have been and are very active in the work for the Master. It was mainly through the liberality of the Sanders family and John B. in particular that the beautiful new Methodist church structure was erected. It was built a half dozen years ago and is a beauty, costing about $2,500.00, the Sanders family bearing half of the expense. John B. Sanders is a steward in the church and one of its best and most active members. He is also the class leader.
Two years ago Mr. Sanders purchased a large tract of land in Pulaski county, Kentucky, covered with fine timber and very rich in minerals and soil. He is now actively engaged in developing it. This land lays on the Rockcastle River, is nearly level and substantially all of it is in timber, in which the woodman’s axe has never yet been heard. He has erected a fine saw mill on this premises and is cutting hundreds of thousands of feet of fine lumber for the market. This land is fine for farming, and already several Grant county people have located on it. Mr. Sanders spends a part of his time each month in the woods of his mountain land. While it is called mountain land it is practically level.
from the Williamstown Courier of May 30, 1901