The Secon brothers opened the first Pottery Barn in New York in 1949 with discontinued and slightly damaged ceramics from an upstate New York factory they had loaded into the family station wagon, The New York Times reported.
Morris Secon had learned a noted Alfred, N.Y., stoneware designer had three barns filled with irregular products. Secon bought 2,500 items for $1 apiece.
The original 12-foot-wide Pottery Barn sold nicked and slightly misshapen platters, plates, pitchers, cups and saucers.
The brothers later opened seven Pottery Barns but did not make a fortune from the venture.
"When I left the business, we called it the Poverty Barn," Morris Secon told the Times. He managed the chain for several years after his brother left the business in 1966.
Morris Secon sold his share to two partners in 1968. They, in turn, sold the company to Gap Inc., which in 1986 sold it for $6 million to Williams-Sonoma Inc.
The chain now has 197 U.S. and Canadian stores.