After 80 years of doing business in McDowell County, Laughridge Furniture Company is closing its doors for good.
Last week, the family-owned store, a fixture in downtown Marion since 1934, announced its going-out-of-business sale by sending letters to its many longtime customers. The preferred customer sale started Thursday and the store’s employees were quickly overwhelmed by the amount of people who came to find once-in-a-lifetime deals. More than 1,000 people came to Laughridge Furniture on the first day of the sale. It continued Friday and Saturday.
The sale also continues today and Monday, which is Labor Day.
Brenda Johnson of Old Fort came to Laughridge Furniture on Friday to check out the available furniture in one of the business’s three buildings. She was in Showroom No. 2, which is one of the two older buildings next to the Marion Depot.
“We’ve traded with them for approximately 40 years,” said Johnson as she checked out the beds and mattresses.
Johnson said she and her family have bought all of their furniture, mattresses, appliances and TVs from Laughridge.
“We are sick to see it close,” she said. “They are great people to deal with. I hate it.”
Johnson said the employees would recognize her whenever she came into the store. She said they are “very personable, great people.”
Another customer who dropped by on Friday was Councilman and former Mayor Everette Clark, who once owned and operated a downtown Marion business himself.
“I hate to see them leave,” said Clark. “They have been here for so long and they are just fine people.”
“It makes me very, very sick and sad because my family has traded here for as long as I can remember,” said Linda Lewis of Old Fort.
Co-owner Dan Davis said Friday his plans for retirement are the reason behind Laughridge Furniture’s closing. He recently turned 70 years old.
“I just wanted to enjoy the rest of my life,” he said.
The furniture store opened in 1934 when Laughridge Furniture founder Jim Laughridge started a business after some political misfortune.
“In 1934, my grandfather Jim Laughridge decided to open up this furniture company in the exact same building we’re in today,” Davis said in a 2012 interview. “He had been clerk of court and was voted out and that’s when he decided to open a furniture company.”
His two sons, Landis and Phillip Laughridge, joined their father. For the next few years, the three men ran the new business, and then after World War II the men were joined by Dan Davis’ father Pat Davis, who married Jim’s daughter Edith.
“The four of them worked the business until granddaddy and my mother’s brothers passed away,” Davis said in 2012. “After dad retired in 1974, me and my sister Bonnie’s husband Marco Perez started running the business.”
Perez retired a few years ago and Davis continued to operate the business.
Many can recall buying their first piece of furniture from the store.
“A lot of people have come to me in their 70s and 80s and said that after they got out of World War II they got married and came here to set up house,” stated Davis in the 2012 interview. “A lot of them didn’t have a lot of money, because they had been putting everything toward the war effort. Many of them bought on account and paid 50 cents a week. It’s hard to believe, but 50 cents each week could get a family most everything they needed back then.”
Originally the store was just two parts of the original Laughridge Furniture Company building and a smaller out building. After adding on to their main building and buying two surrounding warehouses, the company had plenty of space to exhibit its wares.
“We grew it from a small building to a complex of three buildings over two city blocks,” Davis said on Friday.
Laughridge became the largest furniture store in McDowell with 30,000 square feet of show room, spread over three buildings, and another 6,000 square feet of warehouse space.
“We’re proud of the fact we’ve had many long-time employees, especially Bonnie Goldsmith and Joe Mason, both of whom worked over 40 years,” said Davis on Friday.
Other long-time employees were Sheila Robinson, who worked for 28 years, and Dean Allen, who worked for 20. Davis also gave credit for store’s success to the dedicated warehouse crew.
On Friday, Davis said that none of his children or the Perez children wanted to continue the business. The three buildings will be put on the real estate market for sale or rental.
“We hope we have been good citizens and contributed something to the community these past 80 years,” said Davis. “We really appreciate all the outpouring of support from the community during the startup of our closing sale. We’ve been overwhelmed,”
Staff Writer Landdis Hollifield contributed to this story.