The R.T. Owens building began as a wood structure built in 1889 by Richard Thomas Owens, a well-known entrepreneur in Malad City. R.T. had worked for two years at the Evans Co-op when it was first organized as part of the Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1880 he joined with T.M. Thomas to start a general merchandising store on Bannock Street. In 1889 R.T. purchased Thomas’ share in the business and moved the store to its present location on North Main Street.
In 1909 John R. Thomas purchased a half interest in the store, which was the beginning of the R. T. Owens Company. The brick building was constructed, and the original wood building was moved to the back of the new building. The large brick building had steam heat and electric lights and was one of the first buildings in Malad to have such modern conveniences. The store was a general store but later sold farm implements and machinery.
Shortly afterward, the company was reorganized and incorporated at $50,000 with Griff Davis, Peter Fredrickson, John Fredrickson, and Tom C. Roberts joining Owens and Thomas as stockholders.
In 1917 the building and merchandise were sold to the Oneida Farmers Union. The American Foods grocery store was located in the building for a time, and the Oneida County Library occupied a small upstairs room. In 1968, the building was sold to Gerald Thomas, a great-nephew of R.T. Owens. As Thomas Electric and Furniture, the building continues to serve the residents of Malad.
Larry Thomas, son of Gerald Thomas, and current owner of Thomas Electric and Furniture.