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Landmark Houston Store Celebrates 80 Years — the Real Story of Bering’s

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CEO Augie Bering V Tells All About a True Family Business

BY PC Studios // 09.26.20 15

Augie Bering V

One of America’s most intriguing heritage retail businesses — Houston’s own Bering’s — is about to celebrate its 80th anniversary. Bering’s is currently steered by CEO Augie Bering V, whose great grandfather founded the landmark Houston store in 1940. Bering takes the job of shepherding one of the city’s iconic companies seriously.

Read on to learn more about the man at the helm (and the 80th celebration) — in his own words.

Bering’s Beginning

The year 1940 was an ideal time, as there was a big need for lumber. The Great Depression was finally beginning to ease. Employment was up, and things were promising. My great grandfather, August C. Bering Jr., owned a store called Bering Tire and Rubber Co. on the corner of Main and Lamar. In 1940, he bought a lumberyard downtown and called it Bering Lumber Co. (The original address was 2000 German Street, now Canal Street.)

My grandfather, August C. Bering III, left his job at the Bering Manufacturing Co. to work for his dad at the lumberyard, but his dad died unexpectedly from complications from having a kidney stone removed, leaving my grandfather to take over the business. Bering Lumber moved in 1952 to the current 6102 Westheimer flagship location to fulfill a burgeoning demand due to suburban growth.

Retail Milestones

Opening our gift shop in 1971. Then our Bissonnet store in 1989. Exiting the lumber business and adding the children’s department in 2006. The creation of The Men’s Shop in 2018 and the soon-to-be-launched berings.com, in 2020.

Your Journey to CEO

I worked at the store during summers in high school. It taught me a great deal about customer service, supply chain, as well as retail buying. My leadership skills really evolved in college and post-college years with NOLS [National Outdoor Leadership School] and the Wilderness Medicine Institute.

Becoming president and CEO was never part of my plan. However, when my father called and said he needed me to help manage a new storefront in San Antonio, I was there for him. At the time, I was building homes off the grid in Taos, New Mexico, after graduating from the University of Montana, where I also met my wife, Mia.

What the outdoors taught you?

I discovered and sharpened my leadership skills in the back-country — in environments where there is a lot of uncertainty and where group dynamics really come into play.

When you’re not minding the store?

You might find me at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, where I’ve served on the board for over 10 years. I’m an outdoor enthusiast and an adventurer at heart. Getting outdoors is deeply cathartic for me and helps to clear my head of daily complexities. I’m always running in Memorial Park and hanging out with my kids.

The most surprising thing about you?

I am a huge Grateful Dead fan, and now a Dead & Company fan. And I love road trips to the mountains, deserts and oceans.

Six must-haves in Bering’s Men’s Shop?

The Turtlebox Bluetooth indestructible speaker. Boker knives. Our men’s shirts. A Grateful Dead-inspired line of clothing and accessories called Pesca Muerta. Our vast line of whiskey and beer barware and essentials. Vuarnet shades.

Typical day?

An early-morning run or Seal PT workout, taking my daughter to school (during non-COVID times), and grabbing a cup of Café Bering’s on the way up the stairs to my office at our Westheimer location.

Bering’s Westheimer location, circa 1970s
Bering’s Westheimer location, circa 1970s (Photo courtesy the Bering’s Archive)

Bering’s Iconic Wedding Registry

It was our customers and an employee that gave us the idea to open our gift shop in 1971, which immediately opened the door to our registry (serving nearly 500 couples annually). Aside from tabletop, many couples are registering for grills, kitchenware, coolers, hammocks and items from the hardware department.

All About Tabletop

Our most popular line for formal china is Herend and, for casual china, Juliska. Herend’s Chinese Bouquet is the leading pattern, Juliska’s Berry & Thread for casual.

Top Seller in the Hardware Department

The Stihl line of battery-operated hedge trimmers, chainsaws, tree trimmers, and pruners. I love these tools. No gas, no cords, and all the power you need. The batteries charge within minutes.

Bering’s Community and Philanthropy

Bering’s hosts Houston’s Rise School for their annual gala at our Bissonnet store. We believe in their mission and are honored to underwrite the fundraiser for the fine school. We are also involved with the Houston Arboretum around the holidays. Most of our donations go to local schools. And I’m on the advisory counsel for NOLS in Lander, Wyoming — which serves many Houston young adults, a mission that’s very important to me.

Top Films of All Time

Apocalypse Now, because it’s full of grit and awesome one-liners. Star Wars, because I think it shaped me. I was obsessed with that movie. I saw it 13 times in the first year. The Big Lebowski, because “the Dude abides.” Currently, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, because it’s an adventure worth watching.

Sport to Play

Snow skiing. Steep and deep!

Celebrating Bering’s Epic 80th Anniversary

When: Monday to Sunday, November 2 to 8

Where: Bering’s, 3900 Bissonnet and 6102 Westheimer

Note: Twenty percent off entire purchase Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; knife skills classes Friday and Sunday; free candles on Friday; coffee discount Wednesday and Sunday; 80th birthday party on Saturday, November 7, with trunk shows, demos, gratis truffles, and more; giveaways of 80 $100 gift cards and pictured Christmas card. PaperCity is the media partner.

Find additional details about Bering’s 80th here

Read more about CEO Augie Bering V here

All images courtesy Bering’s and the Bering’s Archive. 

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