GLEBE RADIO & APPLIANCE

Glebe Radio and Appliances is owned by Dabney Wharton. Mr. Wharton’s half-brother (referred by him as his “father” due to a large age difference) started the business in 1946. The first location of Glebe Radio & Appliances was at Lee Highway and Glebe Rd. (which is now a Wells Fargo bank). In the 1940’s, Dabney’s father sold a lot of radios as well as appliances, and in the 1950’s, he started selling televisions and stereo sets as well. He used to sell an even amount of televisions/stereos and appliances.

 

In the old store, his father also did repairs of appliances, televisions and radios. In 1964, he was going to buy the building he was in, but it fell through. So instead, he bought the building where they are located now (5054-5064 Lee Highway). After getting out of the army in 1972, Dabney joined the business.  Dabney started by mostly doing deliveries and hooking things up.  In 1984, he took over the business and has been running it ever since.

 

TV’s and appliances continued to sell equally until end of the century. TV sales then started to decline when other stores started selling TV’s at cost.  Other businesses sold service contracts with their TV’s, but Dabney never believed in service contracts, as he felt that they were a rip off. Since he didn’t want to compete by selling TV’s at cost, he stopped selling them. Today, the business only sells appliances. Dabney stopped selling radios in 2001 or so, due to the decline in sales.

 

Dabney’s business is unique because it is individually-owned. People can talk to the owner, as opposed to a box store. Dabney hardly advertises at all anymore, because word-of-mouth and online reviews bring customers into his store.  He provides good service, so he gets favorable comments. Dabney hasn’t had a big problem with large appliance stores taking business away from him. He is selling to a third generation of families now.

 

The neighborhood he is in used to be referred to as “Hall’s Hill,” a black neighborhood. Now it’s diverse because the housing is so expensive that a lot of the old families who lived there couldn’t afford to stay. In the 1950’s and 60’s, his father provided credit on his own to several young couples who couldn’t get credit, after some older members of the community vouched for them. So he would sell a washer or an appliance to them and he always got paid.

 

During the riots of the late 1960’s in the neighborhood, some of the people in the Hall’s Hill neighborhood stationed themselves in front of the store in order to protect it from being vandalized. Such was the respect this business had with the community.

5060 Lee Hwy Arlington, VA 22207
(703) 538-4400
www.glebeappliances.com

Individual - Dabney Wharton interview
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"[Glebe Radio] is individually owned. There aren't many stores left like that. At all."

Dabney Wharton, owner

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W.G.A.Y. Radio - Dabney Wharton Interview
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"I remember the men who worked for my father had some good stories about the radio station down near George Mason and Lee Highway. Back then it was called WGAY. It was owned by a man named Connie B.K, and he introduced country music to this area. I remember they talked about Patsy Cline, and Roy Clark, and Jimmy Dean. The three I really remember, because at the time, they would put on a show over the radio down here and I remember hearing about them going out over the hillside on Saturdays to perform. And if enough people showed up it blocked traffic, so the county wouldn't let them do it anymore." Dabney Wharton, owner

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First Tip - Dabney Wharton interview
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"I know my first tip! I was thirteen years old, and our Congressman at the time was a man named Joe Boyle, he was friends with my father, and he had gotten his little 13-inch T.V. repaired at the store. And I carried it up for him and threw it in his car, and he gave me a quarter. And I was like, "Wow!" Because a quarter went a long way in 1961 or whatever year it was. So that was my first tip." Dabney Wharton, owner

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    Dabney Wharton, business owner
Photo credits: (left to right)

1) Glebe Radio entrance, from Bing Maps street view; 2) Dabney Wharton, business owner, photographed by Virginia Tech students; 3) Store interior, photographed by Virginia Tech students; 4) Antique goods, photographed by Virginia Tech students; 5) Dabney Wharton in front of interior store display, by Virginia Tech students; 6) Dabney Wharton, business owner, photographed by Virginia Tech students

Full Interview on Arlington’s WERA 96.7 (minute 14:22)

Created 2017 by Virginia Tech UAP in the NCR

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