The Bonfoey Gallery is proof that a downtown business can have staying power. In business for 114 years, and the last remaining retailer in Playhouse Square from the 1950s, Bonfoey is what its president and owner, Richard G. Moore refers to as “a destination business.”
In the 1960s and ’70s, Bonfoey customers included Red Skelton, Engelbert Humperdinck and Ella Fitzgerald. More recently, Hall of Fame golfer Raymond Floyd was added to that list.
The good news is that today, the number of appraisals and people looking for art have increased. Moore credits that, in part, to the Web site that was started three years ago, although he believes that the downtown location is certainly a plus. “This is where we’ve been the whole time. We get traffic from both the East and West sides of town. If we were to move, we’d lose our downtown corporate business.”
The Bonfoey Gallery opened in 1893. Before 1900, it was known as Sheriff ’s (when East Fourth Street was known as Sheriff ’s Street), and was located at East Fourth Street and Prospect Avenue. Following a fire, it moved to where the House of Blues restaurant is now. It’s currently on Eucid Avenue in the Theater District. Moore’s father obtained full ownership in 1938 and worked there through 1993, until the day he died at age 87.
Moore has worked at The Bonfoey Gallery since 1961. His general manager and another member of his staff have been there more than 30 years. Now that’s staying power.