Names and Faces: Kay Conlee

Published: Jan. 4, 2018 at 3:36 PM CST
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When you walk into the Old Bryan Marketplace in Downtown Bryan, you'll be treated like family.

That's because store owner Kay Conlee says family is at the heart of her business.

"My favorite thing about this store is that people say 'wow'...they are surprised," she said.

Kay's family has been a part of Bryan for generations.

She grew up during a time where people relied on downtown to raise their families.

"Our entertainment was here, the movie theaters were down here, it's where we got our groceries," she said. "Everything was here. It was just super fun."

Kay is also responsible for starting up Brazos Christian School in Bryan.

"There were four families. We prayed and believed against all odds.

We had 13 original children, and it was the most precious 13 years of my life, I thought," Conlee said.

Kay's passion drove her back to downtown.

She wanted to make sure people had places to visit in Bryan.

It was her dad that pushed her to make sure her business thrived.

"I had to do it myself because I had to finish it before he died. It was a lot of work." she said. "Daddy died the week I opened this in 1996. He sat in a lawn chair in the middle of the store the last two weeks of his life overseeing it."

Kay now oversees what has become a legacy, one she is passing down to her own children.

"When you hand down something like this they already have a love and appreciation for it, so that's a happy thing too."

She plans to be downtown as long as possible, serving every customer and new friend that walks through her doors.