Whitley Furniture closing after 113 years in business

ZEBULON, N.C. — Whitley Furniture Galleries, a fourth-generation-owned retailer with a store that spans a full city block here, is closing after 113 years in business.

The owners, brother and sister Charles Whitley Estes and Nelle Carroll, are retiring and have partnered with Planned Furniture Promotions to run the going-out-of-business sale starting Thursday. PFP also is assisting in marketing for the sale of Whitley’s eight buildings in downtown Zebulon, part of the Research Triangle about 12 miles from Raleigh.

An aerial view of Whitley Furniture Galleries

Whitley “has become an iconic retailer both for its fashionable, high-end furniture and its century-long history serving Zebulon and surrounding communities,” according to a release. It first opened its doors in 1909 as Zebulon Supply Company, a country general store founded by R.J. (Jeff) Whitley. Over the years, the business expanded into additional buildings, interconnected inside for a showroom that now spans about 65,000 square feet.

The going-out-of-business sale will take place at the 101 W. Vance St. location, North Carolina’s only city block of furniture, according to the release. Brands offered at discount prices include Smith Bros., Gat Creek, Bradington-Young, Hooker, Universal, Bassett, Emerald Craft, Howard Miller, Alder & Tweed, Barcalounger, Dovetail and more. 

PFP and Estes declined to disclose annual sales or say how much the GOB sale is expected to generate, though both said the retailer has continued to do well including through the pandemic. Estes noted last year was the best sales year in the retailer’s long history.

PFP Senior Vice President Tom Liddell also couldn’t put an estimate on how long the sale will run, noting among other things the continuing supply chain disruptions and its plans to work through Whitley’s entire backlog. The event, he said, will last a couple of months “at least.” He noted the store has a stellar reputation and has delivered furniture to consumers more than one hundred miles away.

“The owners’ biggest concern was their employees and their customers,” Liddell said of the family’s discussions with PFP when deciding to close and retire. “They wanted to make sure (all employees) were retained and treated with the utmost respect through the whole event. … We offered everyone an opportunity to continue through the liquidation.”

“It is overwhelming to think about liquidation of all the merchandise and selling a block of buildings,” Estes and Nelle Carroll said in a joint statement. “Having the expertise and support of PFP to manage the entire process and every detail for optimum results provides us invaluable peace of mind.”

“With eight buildings in the heart of a great community and the proximity to Raleigh, the Whitley properties present tremendous re-development opportunity with endless possibilities,” Liddell, of PFP said. “The historical significance and record of success for this retail location speak volumes to their value and potential.”

Clint Engel

Clint Engel is a veteran home furnishings industry journalist and executive editor of Home News Now. Please share your feedback with him at clint@homenewsnow.com

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One thought on “Whitley Furniture closing after 113 years in business

  1. where can I find drawer handles for my lineage bedroom furniture?
    we purchased the Winston Churchill dresser about 25 years ago in Jacksonville Florida

    charles novak ctnovak6@aol.com 904 471 1579

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