What started as a mattress repair business from the back of a wagon in 1914, has since changed into an established business selling furniture to Weatherford residents and even others across the country.
For a century, citizens of Weatherford have been able to buy furniture from Willhite Furniture, which has been family-owned throughout that time.
Seven years ago, the business changed ownership for only its third time as the Rana family, originally from Pakistan, made the decision to own the store in Weatherford.
“We were planning on going to California, but I’m so glad we didn’t,” said Sunder Rana, daughter of owner Tuluh Rana. “It’s been great, we couldn’t ask for anything better. People in Weatherford are amazing; the nicest people I’ve ever met.”
Over the years, Willhite Furniture has flourished, moving from its previous location near the corner of Third and Main streets.
But 100 years ago, the business began not with a storehouse selling furniture, but with Pearl Willhite, who would visit residents whose mattresses needed repairs. She would then fix them from the back of her wagon, using cotton grown in Parker County.
With that heritage, the furniture business continued as the Ogle family, now followed by the Ranas, carry on the business’ goal of serving its customers.
Eventually, the Willhites began to make their own mattresses to sell. By 1974, the Ogles began to sell other furniture as well and in 1984 purchased eight acres of land where they are currently located.
The addition of the La-Z-Boy gallery and Tempurpedic mattresses have brought a new dynamic as has the decision to have internet sales, which has let them provide furniture to customers out of state.
Connie Bunn, employee for 25 years, said their honesty and customer service has helped the business continue for so long.
“We treat our customers how we want to be treated,” Bunn said.
The current staff has over 100 combined years of service.
Bunn said there’s no telling how many Parker County homes have their mattresses, but they also serve the community in other ways, even by donating to those who walk in their front doors needing assistance.
Once a quarter, the business has a one-day sale, selecting a non-profit organization to give a portion of the proceeds to. They have supported organizations such as Grace House, the Senior Center as well as Parker County fire departments.
After Hurricane Katrina, they also donated to victims who had lost furniture as well as their homes.
“We want to give back,” Bunn said.
Throughout 2014, their 100th anniversary, Willhite Furniture plans to have several events and sales available, including a President’s Day sale, a charity event with an auction, a ribbon-cutting and giveaways to graduating Weatherford High School students.
With 100 years behind the business, Rana said they hope it continues for 100 more years in Weatherford.
“If we continue doing what we’re doing, it will,” Bunn agreed. “There’s just no doubt about it…It’s something to be proud of for any kind of business to last a hundred years. I’m proud to be a part of it.”