On the morning of April 10, 1906, Woodrums’ opened the door for the first time. It was a very small opening and a very small store; just a little room, one of a group of three identical rooms in a one-story buidling on the riverbank side of Kanawha Street, a little east of Court.
The first sale, and the first day’s business, were small too––one clock! The stock of merchandise was small; some rugs, curtains, stoves, a few pieces of furniture. Not much money, not much credit, assets strictly limited; the only unlimited resources about the whole enterprise were the energy, ambition and character of the founders.
Everett and John Woodrum were young fellows, setting out on one of life’s most fascinating adventures—going into business for themselves! Every day they loaded a wagon with rugs and small items, and one brother stayed at the store, while the other went out on a house-to-house canvas.
Results were not long in coming. By September of the same year the business had outgrown the store, and a better location was found, across the street at the corner of Court and Kanawha, in a building then known as “Barlow’s Old Stand.” Half the first floor was taken-the other half was a saloon, and there were offices on the second floor. But the third floor could be used for storage, with a hand-powered elevator to get the stock up and down.
Now Woodrum’s began to grow! There were a salesman, a bookkeeper, and a driver for the wagon. Freight shipments were hauled from the railroad and stacked on the sidewalk outside the store; and by “setting up” the fire department (then located approximately where the Central Station is now) extra help was obtained for moving and loading. Soon the saloon was crowded out and Woodrums’ took over the whole first floor. Next, the office partitions were removed and the second floor placed in service. A warehouse was built—a barn-like structure on Virginia Street which was torn down some years ago to make room the Municipal Auditorium. In 1916 the present Virginia Street building was completed and occupied. The significance of this undertaking can hardly be overestimated. In ten short years—Everett and John Woodrum were not yet middle-aged—Woodrums’ had grown from the tiny Kanawha Street shop to one of the finest buildings in Charleston!
Ten years more—another expansion was needed! The warehouse was inadequate to hold ever larger and larger stocks; so in 1927 a new warehouse was built, modern and fireproof, and large enough to meet all demands for many years to come. Or so it was thought!
Another ten years! New departments, new features, and new forms of display were introduced. It was inherent in the Woodrums’ policy that the customer, whether he spent much or little, was entitled to friendly help and reasonably wide choice in making his selections. Thus, a great many separate pieces of furniture were required for display—and space became a problem again.
So in 1937 the Annex was built, more than doubling the floor space of the Virginia Street building—and placing Woodrums’ in the front rank as one of America’s largest furniture stores. But even this was not enough. In 1941 the warehouse was enlarged again, and its area practically doubled.
Then the war years, with scarcities, shortages, and priorities! But under the urgent demand for more production, Charleston continued to grow—and with Charleston, Woodrums’! New products, improved methods, better living conditions—all called for new departments and new services. As soon as war-time restrictions were lifted, a store-wide modernization program was instituted, introducing many new features to make your shopping easier and more enjoyable.
So Woodrums’ grew with Charleston—year by year, increasing in size, increasing in service. People have learned to depend on Woodrums’. Many of our earliest customers are still actively on the ledgers. Second and third generations are buying furniture where their parents bought it—at Woodrums’.