"All roads lead to Darbys' " is a slogan well-known in Texoma. Heard on television and radio and seen on our familiar billboards and delivery trucks, it represents the story of one of Oklahoma's outstanding pioneer families - pioneers in the furniture business.
Luck was with B.E. Darby when he came to Duke, Oklahoma in 1905, looking for work picking cotton. Instead, local merchant and landowner A.L. Perry gave him a job in his general store. Young Darby worked hard, quickly learned the mercantile business and, in 1907, joined forces with his brother Robert to open their own store, Darby Bros. General Merchandise Store.
The Darby boys soon became an integral part of the growing community of Duke. Business was booming and, in 1912, the brothers split to form two different stores, Darbys' Implement & Grocery Store and Darby's Hardware, Furniture & Dry Goods Store. In 1908, B.E. married Anna Presley. She, too, was a hard worker and community leader, becoming one of Duke's first postmasters around 1910. And business wasn't the only thing growing! B.E. and Anna became the proud parents of four children between 1913 and 1925.
After selling his implement-and-grocery business, B.E. opened Darbys' Home Supply Store in 1930, officially renaming it Darbys' Mercantile Store in 1932. Times were changing, however. The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl struck in the 1930s, forcing many Oklahomans to load up and move west to California. A benchmark in the history of Darbys' is the fact that it was one of the few local businesses to survive this era.
After World War II ended in 1945, the economy began to "boom" once again and so did Darbys'. Returning soldiers wanted to begin a new life and needed good furniture and good prices. By 1949, Darby's staff had grown to include the next generation of Darbys': Howard, H.R., Lloyd and Anna. By the time B.E. passed away in 1959, leaving his three sons in partnership, Darbys' Mercantile Store was a large two-story building filled with every piece of furniture a home needed plus every accessory imaginable, from refrigerators to carpet.
Tragedy struck in 1978 when the block containing Darbys' Furniture Store caught fire. Despite the best efforts of the Duke Fire Department and other surrounding communities, the lack of water pressure made the job impossible. Townspeople and employees worked alongside the Darby family to save what they could, but the two-story building, along with the rest of the block, went up in flames. Only five months later, however, Darbys' was back to business as usual, reopening at a new location with the fire sale of the century.
In 2005, Darbys' underwent a significant expansion, opening a major new showroom in Lawton, Oklahoma, where it was soon voted the best furniture store in town. Today, a new generation of Darbys' continues the pioneering tradition that has spanned 100 years - with good coffee, good conversation, good deals and good furniture for as long as Oklahoma has been a state.
The Darbys' spirit lives on, as does their faith in community, family and God. Howard, along with his son Jon, Jon's son Blake, and Jon's son-in-law Darren, together represent a Darbys' tradition four generations strong, still leading the way in home furnishing. Even young Katie Beth, part of the fifth generation, can tell you that "All roads lead to Darbys'."