Stuckey Furniture in Okatie closing after 50 years

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Stuckey Furniture on Hwy. 170 in Okatie will be closing once all inventory is liquidated. TIM ANDERSON

Furniture always has been a reliable fixture in our living space, much like Stuckey Furniture has been a major presence in the local furniture industry for decades.

After serving the Hilton Head-Bluffton-Beaufort market for more than 50 years, this venerable establishment will be shutting its doors at its Okatie location soon.

Beginning Jan. 4, Stuckey's will start liquidating its inventory and will remain open Thursdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until all merchandise is sold.

"At 74, it's time to slow down, liquidate some assets and focus on the Mt. Pleasant store and the original store in Stuckey, S.C.," wrote owner Lee Stuckey in a press release. "These two stores will remain open. It has been our great pleasure to serve customers at this Lowcountry location. With our fine manager, Susie Webb, retiring in February, the timing seemed right."

Stuckey said in an interview that he made the decision in November - but it wasn't an easy one.

"It was a difficult decision because my employees (five full time and one part time) will have to look for jobs," he said. "I really felt so bad. I told every one of them that if they stayed with us until we liquidate all of the inventory that I'd give them all a big bonus, which I will."

The 30,000-square-foot building and 4.5 acres of land are listed for sale by Weichert Realtors in Bluffton.

This area's Stuckey, located at 5279 Okatie Highway since 1995, originally opened at Laurel Bay near Beaufort in the late 1960s before a fire forced its relocation.

The company has an interesting history, triggered by an almost accidental purchase.

Dexter Lee Stuckey Sr., Lee's father, was a member of the Woodmen of the World organization in the rural town of Stuckey, near Georgetown, in the 1930s. The group needed chairs for its meeting hall, but the local furniture store would not give them a discount.

When a truck loaded with chairs stopped by the Stuckey brothers' garage, Dexter asked about buying them. The driver suggested he call the factory.

He ordered a "truckload," which turned out to be 719 chairs. He donated 20 of them for the meeting hall and sold the rest for $1.25 apiece.

"I thought it would take me a year to sell all those chairs, but in two weeks, I had sold every one of them," Dexter occasionally recalled.

Folks returned for tables to go with the chairs, end tables, beds, etc. - and the rest, as they say, is history. Stuckey Bros. Furniture company was born.

The company outgrew its original space and added seven more locations in South Carolina, one in Georgia and another in Charlotte.

It started trucking its medium to high-end lines out of state in the 1940s and by the late '50s, more than 65 percent of sales crossed the Palmetto State border as far north as Maryland.

"I think I'll miss the employees the most and the customers I've met here," Lee Stuckey said. "We had great customers, and I always enjoyed talking with them."

Dean Rowland is a veteran senior editor and freelance writer.

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