Weiss Bros. tried to change that a bit Wednesday when the Oak Ridge Avenue company marked its 60th anniversary with a trade show and celebration at the Ramada Inn and Convention Center.
More than 50 suppliers attended, displaying everything from vacuum cleaners and 3M tape to hand cleaners and pizza boxes to hundreds of customers.
"This is a niche market," said Richard Weiss, 51, company president, in explaining the eclectic exhibition of merchandise.
The company was founded in 1938 by Norman Weiss, a podiatrist and Richard Weiss's father, who primarily sold shoe parts, called "findings," to shoemakers.
As more and more shoemakers went out of business, Weiss Bros. changed with the times. The business began supplying small neighborhood stores with a variety of items, such as aspirin, Wiffleball bats, Alka-Seltzer and kites.
"We sold to all the corner stores, all the mom-and-pop stores," said Bernard Weiss, 75, the founder's nephew and a company employee from 1949 to 1993. He retired as president and now lives in Boca Raton, Fla.
The evolution continued as larger discount stores and convenience chains started to replace corner stores. The company moved into industrial and janitorial supplies.
For many years Weiss Bros. was in a building on Franklin Street. The company moved to Pope Avenue in 1979 and to its present location in 1990.
Richard Weiss said the business will continue to change to meet demand, perhaps using the Internet to serve customers.
"I don't know what I'm going to be doing in the year 2003. I don't know what I'm going to be selling in the year 2003, but I know we'll be changing," Richard Weiss said.