Welcome to Dawahares. Dawahares is a family owned and operated retail clothing chain with 25 stores in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia. We started doing business over 90 years ago, and firmly believe that quality fashion clothing, excellent customer service, and a pleasant shopping environment should be enjoyed by every customer who visits our stores or our web site.
A historical perspective.....
Serur Frank Dawahare was born in a small village near Damascus, Syria, on August 18, 1888. He was the oldest of six children. He had one sister and four brothers.
Around the turn of the century Serur fled Syria to escape religious persecution. He came to America speaking no English and having very little money. He took a job in New York City in a sweat shop. There he met Selma Cury, whom he married.
Selma had a brother living in Norton, Virginia, by the name of D. Cury. He called them a few months after their marriage and told them that coal mines were opening up in Kentucky and Virginia; and maybe they could make a better living for themselves. So, Serur went to Norton to check things out, and left Selma with her oldest brother in Brooklyn, New York
Serur decided he would try and pack peddle merchandise. He sent after Selma and they moved to East Jenkins, Kentucky. Every day he would put a pack on his back and go from house to house in the coal camps to sell his wares. After a few months, he had acquired enough capital to open his first little store and began to sell merchandise to other pack peddlers. Selma worked in the store and helped Serur every where she could. It wasn't easy.
They began to raise a family and while living in East Jenkins, Kentucky, they had four children. Two boys and two girls.
In 1922 they decided to move to a small town nearby, Neon, Kentucky, and open a bigger store. They bought a building and lived over the store, so it was easier being at their place of business from 8:00 in the morning until 11:00 at night.
In those days, if a customer traded with you, he or she never went to another store to buy merchandise. Customers were your friends, as well as your customers. You would know each one by his first name. Your customer got a payday every two weeks, the first of each month and the middle of each month; and that's when you did your best business, on pay days. In the early days, you only hired one clerk to help in the store. That was on Saturdays, and they worked from 8:00 in the morning until 10 or 11:00 at night, for $1.00 a day.
They were dedicated workers and took their jobs seriously. They would sweep floors, dust, price, and sell merchandise. They would bring their lunch and never took a lunch hour or a break. They did not know what a punch-clock was.
Salesmen called on you in those days, and if you needed other types of merchandise, that salesman couldn't offer, you would go by train to Cincinnati, Ohio and buy what you needed for your store. Cincinnati was a central market.
Things were so cheap in the 1920s and 1930s. The dollar would go a long way. A good pair of shoes would sell for $1.98 and $2.98. Dresses were 98 cents to $5.98. Shirts were 98 cents to $2.98. The highest quality suit was $25.00. Merchandise was shipped by railway, express, or freight.
Serur taught himself to read and write the English language. He kept his own books and prepared his own taxes.
In those early years, it was tough and with a growing family. It took hard work, but as each child grew they took on responsibilities. They were taught to work and each one had a job to do. If they needed or wanted something, they had to work to earn it. It was not given to them.
Serur's sons would shine shoes, sell newspapers, and on the fourth of July, were out selling flags. They embedded in all their children to be honest and work for what they wanted. It had to be team work.
Serur and Selma had eight sons and three daughters. They were very patriotic. They named three sons after presidents of the United States of America. Woodrow Wilson Dawahare, Warren G. Harding Dawahare, Herbert Hoover Dawahare.
Serur had a vision and a dream. He wanted a store for each of his eight sons and was working towards that dream. In 1935, a second Dawahares was opened in Whitesburg, Kentucky, County Seat of Letcher County. The family moved to Whitesburg and again lived up over the store. Selma never lived in a house. It was always an apartment over the store. Not until after her death did the family have a home to live in.
Selma passed away in December, 1939, leaving eleven children, the youngest child was six years old. It was a terrible blow to the family. But Serur carried on, with the help of the older children. During the war years, the three daughters (Nellie, Mary, and Sybil) ran the business with Willie, the oldest son, as three of the brothers, Woodrow, Dee, and Harding were in the army and the youngest were in school (Hoover, Frank, Martin and A.F.)
In 1946, the third Dawahares store was opened, in Pikeville, Kentucky. In 1947 the fourth store opened, in Hazard, Kentucky. In 1951, Serur died suddenly with a heart attack.
With God's help, Serur and Selma's dream lived on. In the ensuing years many more stores were opened.
The oldest son, Willie, had always wanted a store in Lexington, Kentucky. So, in 1961, Willie found the spot at Gardenside. This was the first Dawahare store in Lexington; and the first move from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.
Through hard work first by Woodrow and Frank, and soon thereafter joined by A.F. , Dee , and Martin, the Lexington operations prospered. In the 70's and 80's the chain followed a cautious expansion plan. The 90's have seen a new expansion bringing the total to 29.
Today there are 10 members of the third generation working in the business, one member of the fourth generation. The company plans to continue opening around three stores each year.
Upon solid principals Selma and Serur built a business, placed it into the hands of well-trained children, who have since watched it grow throughout Kentucky and into West Virginia. They left a legacy of hard work, dedication, honesty, and love. And it is the desire of this family to leave the same legacy to the children and grandchildren.