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May 12, 2013

Winingers close Hawkins TV on a good signal

DUNCAN — As Floyd Wininger stood in front of his family business one final time, an odd feeling came over him as he realized his “exit strategy” was actually happening.

Collecting the keys to the building from his manager, Mark Cochran and two other employees, Jason McClain and Jason Phillips, signaled the end of Hawkins TV and Electronics.

“Everybody has to retire sometime. Everyone has to have an exit strategy,” Wininger said a week after the closing.

Hawkins TV was an American dream. It began as a garage business by Jack and Lena Hawkins in 1957. Floyd, a Duncan native, married Hawkins’ daughter, Patty, and Jack had tried to get him to join the business after it went into a storefront. Wininger, who at the time, was working in a funeral home, happened to be standing in the store one day when a customer asked him about a Reel to Reel product. Wininger quickly saw the product behind the man and even though he didn’t know what he was doing, managed to make the sale. At that time, a $1,300 sale was gold. It was his first sale. He quickly found out though that there was much more to learn about retail.

In December 1979, the Winingers purchased the business from Hawkins and also opened a store in Duncan, at 910 W. Main. They began experiencing growth and bought a vacant lot at 13 S. U.S. Highway 81, and celebrated a grand opening in August 1985 as Hawkins Television & Electronics Inc.

Location was key, with an open parking lot and easy access for people who were driving to work at Halliburton. Yet, it wasn’t location that kept the customers coming back. That can only be credited to Wininger’s positive attitude.

“I owe it to excellent employees. Your people are your business. In a community like Duncan, you depend on repeat business over and over. You must do people right. A lot of stores came and went in my type of business,” Wininger said. “You provide things they can’t. Good products, knowledgeable staff... you form relationships with people.”

Wininger said that his business had its ups and downs, but Duncan was always good to them. They managed to survive the oil industry rollercoaster, too.

While Wininger declined to say how much the lot and building cost to invest in, in 1985, it is now listed at $349,900. Only a handful of U.S. Highway 81 frontage properties are available for sale, with some price tags past the $1 million mark.

Both Floyd and Patty have invested in the community they call home. In February 2012, he joined the staff at First Baptist Church as an administrator. It’s the same church he’s been attending since junior high. Patty is the Disaster Managment Coordinator and Cardiac Rehab administrator for Duncan Regional Hospital.

Civic responsibilities are built into this couple’s character traits, along with Floyd being actively involved in Duncan Little Theatre. And while they have “retired” from the family business, they have no plans of just sitting back and taking it easy. Staying connected to the community is at the top of their list.

“Our children have their own careers, so we decided to just sell everything,” he said. Pausing for a moment to reflect on the final days of the business, Floyd thought about his customers, many who are his friends.

“We had one fella come in and teared up. We’ve gotten so many emails, letters from customers, it’s heartwarming, touching. But it’s time to retire.”

All his staff managed to find new jobs before they closed the doors one final time.

“All the boys handed me their keys, but when you look ahead ... well, Patty and I could not have been more blessed.”

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