Barney Miller is still going strong after a century

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — When Vladimir Lenin died in January 1924 and Joseph Stalin became leader of the Soviet Union, Barney Miller’s in downtown Lexington had already been open for nearly two years.


What do you want to know

  • The store opened as an auto parts store in 1922
  • Later, he started selling radios, record players, televisions, and other electronics.
  • Barney Miller’s moved to its present location in 1936
  • The store sold Kentucky’s first TV to Calumet Farm

Barney Miller’s is celebrating its 100th anniversary. It opened as an auto parts store on June 18, 1922, at 224 E. Main St. in Lexington.

Barney Miller’s started as an auto parts store before becoming an electronics store (Spectrum News 1/Brandon Roberts)

Over the next few years the cars started to become standard with many of the parts he was selling, so he looked for a change. According to barneymillers.com, the company sold Kentucky’s first radio.

Barney Miller sold Kentucky’s first radio (Barney Miller’s)

Record players followed for many years. In the 1940s, Barney and second-generation owner Harry Miller sold Kentucky’s first television set to Calumet Farm. Over the years, third generation owner Barney Miller has guided the business from a purely commercial format to an installation business.

“Service. Absolute service,” according to Managing Director Jorge Castro, is the company’s recipe for success and longevity.

Barney Miller General Manager Jorge Castro shows some of the store’s old advertisements (Spectrum News 1/Brandon Roberts)

“We pride ourselves on ensuring that our systems are supported and we can provide whatever the customer needs based on their needs. We service everything we sell. We make sure it’s going to come in and it’s the right job and the right system. Our service team is second to none. We have a 24-hour support team. Services are a big expense, and we understand that, so we try to offset the cost a little bit based on customer needs, but 24-hour service helps meet immediately to the customer’s needs as quickly as possible.

The Barney Miller showroom in the 1950s. (from Barney Miller)

Castro said constant evolution and offering cutting-edge technology is the current focus of the company’s 14-person staff today. A 1949 framed newspaper advertisement displayed at Barney Miller shows that the company sold a 12-inch black-and-white television for $299.99, equivalent to $3,745 today.

“It was a lot of money back then,” Castro said. “Harry had gone to a fair in New York and seen a television. When he got back he knew he had to convince his father to sell them. Fast forward 73 years and now we design, install, program and maintain home theaters, stereo systems, smart homes, networking, security, camera systems, audiovisual furniture and seating, conference rooms, training rooms, gathering spaces and motorized blinds, for name a few.”

Castro, who has worked at Barney Miller for nearly 20 years, said the people local and as far away as California who have become loyal customers over the years are an integral part of the century-old company.

“We have a lot of loyal customers that we’ve worked with forever,” he said. “Having our salespeople here, our team is always handling things no matter what, and that means a lot to people.”

Barney Miller’s has been in its current location at 323 E. Main St. in Lexington since 1936.

“Downtown business has struggled for so long,” Castro said. “It says a lot that we’ve been in one place for so long. We’ve survived the Great Depression, recessions and now the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s truly remarkable and a testament to what we’re doing here .

Barney Miller’s is the only technology integrator in Central Kentucky to have earned Home Technologies Association (HTA) certification. HTA-certified companies undergo background checks to ensure they are technically competent, demonstrate strong customer service, and have a positive reputation. Less than 10% of companies obtain certification.

“We are proud to have worked with multi-generational families and businesses for electronic systems and services throughout Central Kentucky,” owner Barney Miller said in a statement. “Experience matters. Today, 100 years later, we strive to continuously evolve and deliver cutting-edge technologies.

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