By BRIAN SMITH
To do something for 100 years and be successful in today’s “here today, gone tomorrow” society is truly remarkable.
Willhite Furniture and Sleep Gallery came into business in 1914, according to Assistant Manager Connie Bunn, who has 27 years of sales experience, 25 of them with Willhite. She said Pearl Willhite started the business by going around in a horse and buggy and selling mattresses, which she would take out, repad as necessary and move on to the next customer.
For the first 60 years, the store in downtown Weatherford at 3rd and Main was known exclusively as Wilhite Mattress Company. The showroom moved a few times over the years, including a location on Palo Pinto Street in Weatherford.
Furniture has only been part of sales for the last 40 years or so, when Willhite sold her business to Charles and Carol Ogle. In 1984, the Ogles found eight acres at the current location, 1501 Fort Worth Highway, and began construction there.
The Ogles sold the business to current owners Tuluh and Riffat Rana back in 2006. The owners, along with their daughter, Sunder, who works as marketing coordinator, have enjoyed the business and the area.
A number of events are planned to celebrate the historic event.
“We’re planning a ribbon cutting with the Chamber for our 100 years and also some charity events, which we like to do during the years,” Bunn said. “We do some quarterly events where proceeds go to benefit the Center of Hope, the fire department. We also are planning on helping out the pantry and the Weatherford Senior Center as well. The customers have been good to us and we like to give back.”
Bunn makes no bones on how the business has stayed around for so long.
“Without the customers and the public, none of this is possible,” Bunn said. “We know the customers can buy from anywhere and we are glad our loyal customers have decided to keep their money local.”
Keeping purchasing power local comes from having popular brands at a fair price throughout the years. Bunn said. Being honest with customers is something that keeps the customers coming back.
“Our sales staff is experienced, with a combined 100 years in the business, so we know what we’re talking about and will do our best for the customer,” Bunn said. “John Hatley, Kristina Rutledge and Petra DeRusse and I have all been here and all treat everyone the way we would want to be treated.”
Making the furniture buying experience simple and pleasurable for everyone is a key to the business being around for a century.
“We believe that if we tell someone something, it’s the truth or we were misinformed to begin with,” Bunn said. “People sometimes have had bad experiences with sales people or have some misconceptions. We will make the experience a pleasant one for our customers.”
The store is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For further information on Willhite Furniture and Sleep Gallery, call 817-594-7216 or visit www.wilhitefurniture.com.