Ms. Earlean S. Bowen -- "The Antiques Lady" -- passes away at 96 The antiques industry lost a true jewel with the recent passing of Earlean S. Bowen, an enthusiastic buyer and seller of antiques and longtime owner of Bowen’s Antiques in Eupora, a small town in Miss
News-Antique.com - Dec 13,2012 - (EUPORA, Miss.) – The antiques industry lost a true jewel with the recent passing of Earlean S. Bowen, an enthusiastic buyer and seller of antiques and longtime owner of Bowen’s Antiques in Eupora, a small and quaint town in central Mississippi north of Jackson and south of Memphis, Tenn. Ms. Bowen died Nov. 16 and was buried three days later, on her 96th birthday.
Bowen’s Antiques wasn’t so much a store as it was a veritable antiques village, with ten buildings plus a brick residence all on one property in Eupora that Ms. Bowen owned. She kept adding on buildings as her massive inventory of antiques – especially furniture and primitives – grew over the years. She made sure the buildings were spread apart to minimize any fire damage.
“I had the privilege of knowing Earlean Bowen, as did many other fortunate folks, and I would be hard-pressed to name a person who was more loved or full of life than she was,” said Dwight Stevens of Stevens Auction Company, based in Aberdeen, Miss. “She attended many of my auctions and even though she was a dealer, it was the buying that excited her – the hunt.”
Stevens added, “When you went to visit Earlean at her shop, everything was for sale – including the jewelry she was wearing and the bed she slept in. If someone wanted to buy, she would figure out a way to make a sale happen. She also prepared a full dinner every day, with various meats and two or three different desserts. She’d feed pretty much anyone who came by.”
Bowen’s Antiques was not an overnight success story, nor was Earlean Bowen a lifelong player in the antiques business – far from it. Born in Eupora, she worked at the Montgomery Ward store there for years before getting a job at the Mississippi State Department of Welfare, as manager of the state’s food stamps program. But she always fancied antique furniture items.
In 1975, with $10,000 and a dream to get into the business, Earlean launched Bowen’s Antiques, initially as a home-based venture. In the few years prior to that, she had been selling a few used cars out of her front yard and was also an Amway distributor. In a few instances, she accepted furniture pieces as a down-payment on a car, then sold the furniture out of her garage.
Then, as she was calling on Amway customers, she would notice other furniture items in their homes that she decided she just had to have. “Almost no one could say no to grandmother,” said Lisa Mims, Ms. Bowen's granddaughter. “To my knowledge there has only been one piece of furniture that she ever tried to buy that she just couldn't talk the owner into selling to her.”
That was 36 years ago, when Earlean spotted a Welsh cupboard in an open doorway of a home in Kilmichael, Miss. She turned the car around and immediately knocked on the door to purchase the piece.