J. B. Ivey started from scratch, but through the years he rose to become one of the biggest retail merchants in the Southeast. He opened a store in Charlotte in 1900, and by 1940, J. B. Ivey was the leading store there for quality merchandise. Other stores followed in North and South Carolina. He was an active member of the Methodist Church and served it in many capacities. He believed business should not be conducted on Sunday and drew the shades on the store's display windows on Saturday night.