This family-owned operation began back in 1890 when R.E. Dennard opened a store in Sadler, Texas. It was a long, narrow building with glass shelves for display and one aisle lined with boxes of merchandise. The store has been passed down through four generations. R.E. was the great, great grandfather of Carol Dennard, who with her husband W.D Ferguson bought it from her father Bill in 1980. They relocated the store to downtown Whitesboro, which allowed them to expand its product offerings to include groceries, feed, lawn and garden supplies, and even baby chicks.
W.D. has worked at Dennards for 48 years. He has seen a lot of changes in those years, both in the store and in his personal life. After the passing of his wife Carol, he married MaryAnn, who is active behind the scenes at Dennards. W.D.'s son Tim and his wife Kim also work at the store, as do their children Kyle and Courtney. Tim has grown up in the business and has taken over the reins for W.D. the last few years. Kim continues to manage the office along with her mother Barbara.
In 1998, W.D. opened a second location. He selected a location inside the Midway Mall in Sherman, TX. This location was a success. This store carried clothing, hats, boots, jewelry and some home furnishings. Unfortunately, many of the anchors at the mall have pulled out and stand-alone stores in a different part of town, which has had a significant impact on the mall traffic. W.D. and Tim decided it was time to move. They selected a new location in the Town Center close to Bed Bath & Beyond and Target. It has been a successful move. This store is small by Dennards standards.
In 2006, W.D. decided to relocate the Whitesboro store from downtown to the main highway coming into town, and built a new 45,000-square-foot facility. In true Texas style, the store is huge, as is the amount of inventory that fills it. While they no longer sell groceries, shoppers in the Whitesboro store can probably find just about anything else their horse-loving heart's desire. The Dennards Flagship store carries a great selection of Western Wear, Tack, Animal Health, Hardware, Lawn & Garden, Furniture, etc.
In 2009, another store came onto W.D.'s radar when the Sergeant's Western World in Pilot Point went out of business. "We knew if we didn't do it, someone else would," said Tim Ferguson. They bought the store and within six weeks of beginning to move inventory in, had it up and running. The Pilot Point store is 30,000 square feet, and carries a huge selection of saddles, tack, animal health, western wear, home décor, and furniture. Pilot Point and Aubrey is the horse capital of the world. Dennards carries everything for that horse person. Dennards employs about 40 people in its three locations, and all are trained to provide the best service possible.
"Our business has been built on customer service. That's who pays our salaries," said Tim Ferguson, who oversees the Whitesboro operation and is very involved with the other two locations. "We're very lucky, we've got very good employees," he added. Many of those employees have great longevity with Dennards. Although he is not planning on retiring any time soon, W.D. wants to leave strong legacy to his family, and that means having all three stores operating at their peak potential. He knows it is risky, considering the economy and the fact that he just opened a new store, but his attitude is right on.
"Things are going to get better," he said. "The people who are in there, ready to go, will be in the driver's seat." It's that same attitude that has brought W.D. and his family to the place that they are, and will carry them successfully into the future.