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Harrell's: A Department Store for the Ages

Updated: Jun 27, 2019

Founded in 1903 as C. Harrell and Sons, Harrell's Department Store has been owned and operated by the Harrell family for 116 years. (Yes, you read that right!). Vernon Harrell, the current owner and manager of the store, began helping at the family business at just 13 years old. In 2016, when Vernon's father Charles passed away, it was Vernon's turn to carry on the family legacy. Vernon now owns the business with his brother Herbert, (who also runs Harrell’s Funeral Home, founded in 1913), and manages the store with his wife, Michelle.

Vernon Harrell and Michelle Pare (pictured right) pose outside of Harrell's Department Store with Jeffrey Williams (current employee) and Arwyn Smith (a past employee turned Director of the Chamber of Commerce).

Harrell's is not your average department store. On your first visit you might even wonder if you somehow stumbled into a time machine and ended up in the early 20th century. Inside you'll find shoe styles from the 1920’s, hats from every decade, and classic garments from various fashion eras. Vernon states that most of the styles “harken back to previous ages,” and that they "try to have a mix of things that will appeal to both young and old".


Jeffrey Williams, whose style never disappoints, poses out front of Harrell's, where he is in charge of managing sales.

Vernon credits this unique style as one reason the store has stayed in business for so long. With a slightly more conservative look, Vernon feels they "cater to a style that you don’t see everywhere.” People travel to Harrell's from all over North Carolina in search of the perfect piece. For example, Harrell's is one of only two purveyors of men's hats in the area, and they've become quite known for this over the years.


The second secret to Harrell's success is their deep commitment to customer satisfaction. Most days you can find Vernon and Michelle at the counter, always ready with a smile and the offer of coffee. They attend to every last detail-- from garment alterations to appliance refurbishing and more-- going above and beyond to make you feel at home. Vernon and Michelle firmly believe that "if a customer is not happy, then there’s a problem", and like to tell their customers: "if you have a problem tell us, if you like what we have, tell other people".

Harrell's Department Store Front

Vernon and Michelle spent some time living in other cities while Vernon pursued careers in the restaurant and film industries, but the small town charm of Burgaw pulled them back. “There's trouble everywhere," Vernon says, "but it’s much harder to find in Burgaw". He fondly remembers the days when his youngest child would walk to his grandmother's house everyday after school: "That is something rare to find these days," Vernon states, "so I feel really appreciative that we had that opportunity.”


“Burgaw has all of the charm and good things that a small town has to offer,” Vernon states, and Harrell's Department Store is certainly one of them. So whether you're looking for an old-timey hat, some beautiful jewelry, a refurbished stove, or just a cup of coffee and warm conversation, we can almost guarantee you'll find it at Harrell's.


Stop on in for a visit, and check out their online store at www.harrellsofburgaw.com !

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