Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Theater Supply Firm Sees Changes / from Chains, Lower Attendance

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Theater Supply Firm Sees Changes / from Chains, Lower Attendance

Article excerpt

When a theater in Cushing purchased movie equipment in 1928, soon after talking pictures became popular, the owners were dismayed to find that it didn't work.

They called J. Eldon Peek, an electrical engineering student at Oklahoma State University, to repair the equipment.

Peek gained experience working part-time. After he graduated in 1930, he and his wife, Maxine, opened Oklahoma Theatre Supply Co. in Oklahoma City.

"There are very few theater supply companies in the country," Maxine Peek said. "It is a business that takes years and years to learn."

Now 58 years later, Maxine Peek and her granddaughter Sharon Allen still run Oklahoma Theatre Supply, which sells and services theater equipment and sells concessions.

Peek said that the large theater chains have affected Oklahoma Theatre Supply's business.

"We saw this coming quite some time ago," Peek said, "so we have diversified and have other sources of revenue."

Oklahoma Theatre Supply was located one block west of the present location at 628 W. Sheridan Ave. until 1946, when the Peeks built their present facility. They also own a warehouse adjacent to the showroom.

Oklahoma Theatre Supply presently has five employees, but has employed as many as 12 people.

Due to the success of their business, the Peeks expanded with a store in Kansas City in 1938 and another in St. Louis in 1946.

"In the 1960s it became difficult for us to do everything," Peek said, "and we had to eliminate those stores."

Over the past 57 years, Maxine Peek has seen a number of changes in the movie theater industry.

- After World War II, drive-in theaters became popular, Peek said. During the summer of 1946, Oklahoma Theatre Supply equipped 65 drive-in theaters in Oklahoma. The store in Kansas City equipped almost the same number in that area, she said.

- There have been radical changes in the types of theaters, Peek said.

"The theaters were beautiful," Peek said, reminiscing about the Midwest, Criterion and Centre theaters in downtown Oklahoma City. In those days it was not uncommon for a theater to have 1,500 seats, she said. …

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