Eighty years ago, Henry Dutton Tanner took on a Depression-era job of selling bankrupted paint stock. Now Florida’s oldest paint store, Tanner Paint Company can be found on North Armenia Avenue, where Tanner’s descendents carry on with an “old-fashioned flair of hometown kindness.”
Jett Tanner said her husband’s grandfather started the business back in 1933. The locally owned independent paint company will celebrate its 80th anniversary May 8 by thanking its customers with West Tampa food all day, including a pig roast, pro-show and special sale. The “80 on the 8th” party will take place at the company’s new design studio from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Although the family has spent decades helping other people spruce up their homes, the business is getting its own fresh coat of paint.
“We are totally redoing the store right now,” said Jett Tanner, adding that it is now designated a Benjamin Moore Signature store. “Our 1940s shelving remains and of course our mini museum, but we are adding a beautiful new design center and a few other upgrades to receive the designation as a Benjamin Moore Signature Store.”
Jett Tanner is married to Steven, who is the third generation in the family business. Their son, Walker, 30, represents the fourth generation. Steven’s father, Jack, 91 — the second generation — is still involved.
Walker Tanner said he likes being a part of a family business that has stood the test of time.
“I grew up working here on the weekends and over the summers,” Walker said. “I have been full time for the last 10 years. Luckily, I have a real good relationship with my parents. It’s neat working with your family. They are good people. It’s been fun.”
Walker Tanner said his parents and grandparents still live in their first homes. His parents’ home in Old Hyde Park is more than 100 years old. In fact, Jett Tanner will be a speaker at a Historic Homes Workshop on April 27.
He said the staff at Tanner Paints has shown many customers how to repair older homes, prime and paint damaged wood and revitalize their old historic homes, from Seminole Heights to the Hyde Park area.
“Exteriors are a little bolder in the historic areas, using more greens and highlighting architectural features with contrasting colors,” he said. “For interiors, people are choosing bold colors, but I also see a trend toward neutral and soft, natural colors.”
Jett Tanner said the company sells premium acrylic paint and tools for the Florida climate.
“We manufactured paint until last spring,” she said. “We used to make it right here, but now we have a company making it for us.”
The business still sells the Tanner Paint label as well as the Benjamin Moore brand. It is the oldest Benjamin Moore retailer in Florida.
Jett Tanner said the company also offers expert advice and color matching. They start with a color computer, then fine tune by eye. Tanner Paint has a large, well-trained sales staff that has been with the company from 10 years to more than 40 years.
Periodically, Tanner Paint hosts customer appreciation events with food, prizes and demonstrations. It also offers hands-on faux and decorative finish workshops and other programs for paint contractors and homeowners.
For more information on Tanner Paint, 4917 N. Armenia Ave., Tampa, call (813) 876-0467 or visit the website at www.tanner