Pat Arthur Cox still remembers the day 45 years ago she and her late husband opened Pat’s and Gene’s in downtown Brownwood.

“We opened at noon on Saturday — no advertising, no nothing — and we sold $200 worth of merchandise,” Cox said. “We thought we were something.

“We’d already gone broke in the chicken business, so $200 seemed prosperous.”

In fact, better days were to come. Pat’s and Gene’s would become a signature store in Brownwood, and was a thriving business when the Arthurs sold the store to long-time and faithful employee Jessie Hamilton and her husband Bill 15 years ago.

“Since it’s been Hamilton’s, it’s really like a store you’d find in New York. It’s really beautiful. It’s a wonderful store,” Cox said.

But while she’s pleased for the compliment, Jessie Hamilton tries to argue that the store’s not so very much more wonderful than it has been since its beginning. Throughout the week, Hamilton’s has been celebrating 45 years of doing business in Brownwood.

On Wednesday, Cox was a special guest at the store. There were refreshments, and fond memories for the sharing.

Cox laughed and said, “I feel like I’m lying when I tell the things we did and how dumb we were. We worked like dogs.”

Cox remembered that to open she and her husband borrowed $1,500 to go to market. Even then, she said, typical retailers at market would have $15,000.

“Now,” Hamilton said, “we struggle with $15,000 at market.”

Hamilton said she had worked for Pat’s and Gene’s for 10 years, when she and Bill bought the store 15 years ago. Five years ago, the Hamiltons moved the store to its present location at 500 Center Ave. And with the move, the name was officially changed to Hamilton’s.

“We worked and worked,” Hamilton said. “We took this building back to the bricks for the remodel. Two years ago, we were awarded a special restoration award from the Texas Downtown Business Association.

“We’re really proud of the business. We appreciate all of it, how it began, the wonderful people and staff who started it and who have always worked here. And we so appreciate our loyal and faithful customers.”

“That’s right,” said Cox. “Good people have made this celebration.”