PORT ANGELES — The freedom to travel, go hunting and fishing on a whim, and spend time with family and friends are just a few of the things Bill Clevenger is looking forward to now that he has retired from Angeles Furniture.
Clevenger sold his shares in the business to Jon Gray, his former partner’s son and a longtime employee, on Dec. 28.
Gray is the fourth generation of Grays to own and operate Angeles Furniture.
He joins his father, Jack Gray, in running the Port Angeles-based furniture store.
“I know I’ve left the business in good hands,” Clevenger said shortly before a retirement party at the business Friday.
“Jon grew up in the store and has worked his way up from pulling weeds as a kid to overseeing day-to-day operations.
“Jack and Jon will continue to offer the quality customer service and products Angeles Furniture is known for.”
Angeles Furniture carries stationary and motion furniture; products for the dining room, bedroom and living room; entertainment cabinets; home accessories such as lamps, area rugs and clocks; and more.
Brands include Lane Home Furnishings, La-Z-Boy, Broyhill Furniture, Flexsteel, Howard Miller, Ekornes Stressless, Sealy Mattress, Simmons Mattress, Tempur-Pedic, Aspen Home Furniture and Capel area rugs.
Clevenger said he already is enjoying the benefits of retirement.
He recently went duck hunting on a sunny weekday and is making plans to spend more time at properties he owns in California and Montana.
Clevenger said spending more time with family — his wife, Janis, and their children, Todd, Kim and Lori, plus grandchildren Catelyn, 7, and Logan, 5 — is a priority.
His ties to Angeles Furniture will remain strong.
His daughter Lori works at the store, as do many of his close friends — and those friends include Jack Gray, often his hunting and fishing partner.
“We’ve still got Bill on speed dial,” Jon joked. “He will never be completely out the door.”
Clevenger, who grew up in Port Angeles, said he plans to keep Port Angeles as his main home. (Jack and his wife also live in Port Angeles.
Jon and Janet Gray live in Sequim.)
Before Angeles Furniture, Clevenger owned a logging business with his brother, James, until 1981.
He then worked in real estate for several years alongside Chuck Turner at Port Angeles Realty.
In 1986, he purchased shares in Angeles Furniture and spent the next 26 years learning a lot about furniture styles and trends.
Clevenger and Jack Gray laughed when asked what has changed since they took over the furniture store, which originally opened in Port Angeles in 1919.
“Oh, just about everything has changed,” Clevenger said.
“The colors and styles that were popular when we started are drastically different than what people want today.”
Jack reminisced about an early American colonial-style sofa that was extremely popular with customers in the 1980s.
“You would be surprised how many of those wagon-wheel-print yellow, gold and orange sofas we sold back then,” he said, laughing and looking at Clevenger.
“I will miss seeing the great staff and our customers each day,” Clevenger said.
“The Peninsula has really supported Angeles Furniture, and I will always be thankful to the community for their support and loyalty throughout the years.
“But I am really looking forward to enjoying a slower day-to-day pace and traveling.”
The first adventure on the Clevengers’ itinerary is a trip to California this winter.
“We are headed to Palm Springs and then to Borrego Springs to enjoy a little sunshine,” Clevenger said.
“Jack and his wife, Patty, will join us during this annual trip to dry out a little during the Peninsula’s rainy season.”
Jack said he will miss working with Clevenger but knows the two men will remain close.
“I will miss Bill’s easy smile and sense of humor at work,” he said.
“We have other investments together, and we enjoy fishing and hunting together, so we will never lose touch.
“He’s pretty much a member of the family.”
Jack and Jon Gray said they are looking forward to the next chapter of Angeles Furniture.
“I am really looking forward to working with and learning from my dad,” Jon said.
“It is pretty rare these days for a store to be in business as long as 94 years.”
Angeles Furniture was founded in 1919 by Harvey Gray III and Howard Breen.
In 1956, his son, Harvey “Don” Gray, started working at the store, and eventually Don and Betty Gray purchased the store and became partners with Pierre and Dori Lieurance.
The two owners moved the store from downtown Port Angeles to its current location at 1114 E. First St. in 1962 — and a few years later expanded the store.
The Lieurances eventually sold their shares to Vern and Etta Grall.
Then in 1986, ownership changed to a third-generation Gray — Jack Gray — and Clevenger.
The store’s long history demonstrates several successful partnerships, but the Grays co-owning the store is new territory for the father-son pair.
“We are a lot alike: We both have the gift of gab,” Jon said. “But we also have our differences.”
Jack Gray has decades of sales experience and management under his belt, as well as an understanding of the furniture industry and business property management.
Jon has a keen understanding of the store’s products, customer service and technology.
During the past two years, Jon oversaw the production of the company’s new website, www.angelesfurniture.com, and the creation of a
He and his wife, who is an interior designer, have been heavily involved in the furniture business for the past seven years.
Janet Gray works with customers on interior design projects, and she and her husband go on annual buying trips and to industry conferences, set the floor for big sales and host the business’ annual employee picnics and Christmas party.
In addition, Marcus Gray, Jack’s son and Jon’s brother, works at the store while Jack’s wife, Patty, helps out in the office and on the sales floor.
“Not many changes are planned for the business or customers, just some fine-tuning of what we are already doing,” Jon said.
“The Gray family looks forward to carrying on the tradition of delivering fine home furnishings to the Peninsula and reaching that 100-years-of-operation milestone.”