SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Wheeler’s Furniture store in south Springfield is now selling out its entire stock over the next couple of months as the family who owns the long-time fixture in the community has decided to go out of business.
The current store has been around since 2002, but the original location in downtown Springfield was on the southwest corner of Walnut and South Avenue in what is now a coffee shop and apartment lofts. That furniture store location, under different names, dates back to around 1929.
But in 1986, Richard and Glenda Bennett bought the historic three-story building and enlisted their three children (Gregg, Becky, and Kim) to help them run a successful faith-based, family-focused business.
“My father used to be a pastor,” Gregg Bennett pointed out. “And they ran their business according to biblical principles.”
Over the years, the siblings even took over management roles in the store and an additional furniture outlet they opened separately, but the children paid their dues along the way.
“They put us to work early,” Kim said. “As soon as I could (around eight years old), I was alphabetizing the delivery tickets in the office. We vacuumed, dusted, and cleaned the glass tables.”
“Learning how much polish to put on the cloth and the right amount of spray for the glass tables,” Becky added with a laugh. “And one of my favorite memories is getting to run the elevator. It was a really wonderful way to grow up.”
But as time moved on, so did the siblings. Kim Robilotto moved to North Carolina. Gregg Bennett is a minister in California. And Becky Lindell lives in Ozark, where she’s married to a minister at James River Church.
After their dad passed in 2014, their mom became the owner and CEO of Wheeler’s Furniture. But after Glenda passed away ten months ago, the siblings had some hard decisions.
“Each of us, now that we’re in different parts of the country, have things that we’re navigating in our own careers and families,” Gregg explained. “We didn’t want to make a rushed decision by any means. But we knew that none of us were in a position to carry the business forward into the next season. So after a lot of thought and prayer, we decided to have this event and hopefully end it well.”
For anyone who’s lost parents, you know it’s especially hard to decide what to do with their belongings. And for the Bennett siblings, choosing to let go of their family’s legacy has been an added burden.
“It kind of feels like you’re processing the loss all over again,” said a tearful Kim. “But I think this store has been such an extension of our home and family that it feels like it’s bundled into one.”
“I think since our parents had such a passion for it, that makes it harder to let go of it,” Becky added.
And some of the customers are having a hard time too.
“This morning, we got a visit from a long-time customer,” Gregg recalled. “She and her husband have bought several houses worth of furniture from us over the years, and she said, ‘Gregg, I need a hug!’ So I gave her a hug, and almost immediately, she wanted to apologize because her husband, years-and-years ago, had given us some grief about some cushions on an item of furniture. I told her it was O.K.”
“We want to thank our customers for their years and years of support,” Becky added. “It’s been fun, and we’re extremely thankful for you.”
And while the family is leaving the profession, they say they’re not opposed to selling the business to someone else.
“We’re absolutely open to that,” Gregg said. “And it’s not out of the ordinary for a potential buyer to emerge or inquire in an event like this that will be running for a minimum of 60 days.”
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