Chamber taps Nottoway House for honor

Published 9:42 am Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The staff of the renowned furniture store, Nottoway House Inc., features Frances Gladding and Pat Cleveland, both seated left to right; Standing on either side are Nick Grizzard and Austin Brown, deliverymen. Collin Pulley, left, and Jamie McFarland are between. -- Stephen H. Cowles | Tidewater News

The staff of the renowned furniture store, Nottoway House Inc., features Frances Gladding and Pat Cleveland, both seated left to right; Standing on either side are Nick Grizzard and Austin Brown, deliverymen. Collin Pulley, left, and Jamie McFarland are between. — Stephen H. Cowles | Tidewater News

Nottoway House Inc., a full-service furniture store on Route 58 in Courtland, has been named the 2015 Business of the Year by the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce. It’s an honor that greatly delights the staff that called it “very deserving.” Nottoway House’s General Manager Collin Pulley was particularly thrilled by the news.

“Fantastic! It’s a great honor to be recognized in such a manner,” Pulley said. “I don’t know of any better than the Franklin-Southampton Chamber Business of the Year. We’re in such good company.”

The announcement makes the renowned store the 25th recipient of the Chamber’s recognition of businesses. Executive Director Teresa Beale sees this anniversary as a sort of milestone, adding that Blake Ford on Armory Drive was the first recipient. Recent past honorees have included Cofield’s Locksmith (2014), Smith Jewelers (2013) Rawlings Mechanical Corp. (2012) and Mid-Atlantic Dairy Queen (2011).

Being added to that list is also a marker for Pulley, who began working there as a deliveryman. His grandfather and father, Junius and Graham, respectively, opened Nottoway House in 1955, patterning it after another relative’s shop, the Holladay House on Broad Street in Richmond. His mother, the late Clyde Creighton Pulley, served as secretary/treasurer. She and Graham, high school sweethearts, had married two years before.

A graduate from Southampton Academy, Pulley majored in business at the College of William and Mary. Entering into the family business came about because he didn’t want to leave the area — he’s always been close to his family — and decided that working there was the best opportunity for him. Progressing to the sales floor, Pulley eventually became the manager.

Life is not all about business for him. He believes in giving back to the community through donations, such as items for door prizes. Personally, he belongs to the Courtland Ruritan Club and serves as its treasurer, and is also on the board for the Southampton Historical Society and YMCA. That’s one of the points made in the nominating letter.

Speaking of which, the person or persons who recommended the furniture store apparently want to remain anonymous, but Beale was able to share some of the other comments:

• “Often it is hard for young people to get jobs without having prior experience. Collin often hires young men while they are still in high school or college for his delivery staff, giving them the opportunity to get some work experience while continuing their education.”

•”Collin has a small but loyal staff. Nottoway House offers consistent customer service. Store policy goes way above and beyond manufacture’s warranty on the products they sell, often doing things like replacing broken drawer pulls even many years after the product was sold.”

• “Collin definitely leads by example to his employees as to how we all should treat our customers in a friendly, efficient manner.”


By the early 1970s, the demand for what the furniture shop provided gave the family good reason to expand to the side and back of the existing store.

“People have commented that it’s bigger on the inside than out,” he said. Indeed, when you step in and see the number of variety of pieces — chairs, sofas, bedroom sets, etc. — you wonder how it all fits in so well without being overcrowded.

Perhaps that’s because staff members Patricia “Pat” Cleveland, Frances Gladding and Jamie McFarland keep it all moving out to customers’ homes.

Cleveland, who’s been with the store going on 45 years, had her own upholstery and drapery business before joining Nottoway House. She continues to handle the drapery aspect.

“Best move I ever made,” Cleveland said.

Gladding, who about 10 years ago learned of a job opening from Pulley’s wife, Judy, came from Smith’s Jewelers.

“It’s a very nice experience working with everyone,” she added.

Jamie McFarland, who started two and one-years ago on a temporary basis, has since earned herself a full-time position in the store.

All three women reiterated their satisfaction that the store has been honored. Gladding said with a smile that one person told her, “About time.”

Standing behind what they sell, product quality and variety are why Nottoway House has thrived in good times, and endured in tougher circumstances, such as the recession that started in 2008.

“Word of mouth,” as the expression goes, has been the store’s best advertising, according to Gladding.

“We give excellent customer service,” Pulley said. “Our staff is knowledgeable about the product. Our deliverymen — Nick Grizzard and Austin Brown — are pleasant and respectful. They know how to handle and set up the furniture, and move it around where needed.

“We’re a full-service store. I feel I learned from the best — from my parents.”

He and the staff continue to observe and follow trends. For example, as the population ages, lift chairs and medical beds are sought. While large, overstuffed couches and chairs are certainly available, the store can also offer smaller scale pieces, such as for nursing homes and retirement centers.

The range of delivery is a 100-mile radius, often including Virginia Beach, Nags Head, Gates, Edenton, Lake Gaston and Richmond.

There are no plans for expansion, but he does intend for Nottoway House — and himself — to be here for many more years.

The store is on 28470 Southampton Parkway, Courtland, and open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. through noon on Saturday; and nights by appointment.

Call 653-2259 or visit for more information.

The 62nd annual Chamber meeting will be on Thursday, March 10 from 6-10 p.m. in the Regional Workforce Development Center at Paul D. Camp Community College.

At that time, Kim Williams of EVB will pass the gavel to the next Chamber president, Jim Strozier of Highground Services.

Sponsorships levels are available at the silver ($200); gold ($300); platinum ($600) or presenting ($1,000 — includes a reserved table for eight). The cost per person is $37.50. For more details or to make reservations, which are due by Friday, March 4, call 562-4900 or visit