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McNeill's Appliance in Denton TX

Mother and Daughter continue tradition of the family business

Once upon a time, many years ago, in the small town of Denton, in the state of Texas, two local families set out to seek their fortunes as entrepreneurs. Both businesses were among the thirty-plus grocery stores serving a population of about 8,000 residents, excluding college students. They were even on the same street. One was McNeill Grocery, 221 S. Elm, and the other was Ball Bros. Grocery & Market at 123 N. Elm.

Little did they know that the Great Depression would put an end to both enterprises in the late 1920's. Faced with unemployment, they each scrambled for a new direction. In 1931, McNeill began selling appliances, and the Balls went into the furniture business.

F. C. McNeill would load a Maytag wringer washer in his truck and go from farm to farm demonstrating the product. When he made a sale, part of the price would frequently be in trade for produce, cows or pigs. Then he would travel to Dallas to purchase another machine and start the process over again. In his preschool years, young Charles often accompanied his father on sales calls and began learning the business. When he was ten, his dad stepped on a nail and was laid up with blood poisoning. From his sick bed, Clarence taught Charles how to repair washing machines.

Also, in 1931, Ball Furniture Company was begun in the southeast corner of the old Wright Opera House. During the first decade of operation, it was moved to 218 W. Oak Street where Virginia spent many childhood hours. In the late 1940's, the store was relocated to 102 N. Locust Street.

The parallels continued as the youngest child from each family, Charles McNeill and Virginia Ball, married and merged the two businesses. That was in the early 1960's, and they established the present location in 1964. When their son, Steve, was growing up, he also became interested in fixing things. He would later design and implement a computer system for the store that still serves the company after more than 25 years. Their daughter, Pam, joined the family business full time in 1981 and heads up the operation today.

Now, well into the third generation, not only for the family, but also for many of their customers, they are celebrating 83 years in business, never losing sight of the original mission of service.

Photos TOP to BOTTOM, LEFT to RIGHT: Ball Furniture; McNeill's Grocery; Ball's Grocery; Steve and Charles McNeill; Clarence McNeill; Lee Ball; Dewey Ball; McNeill's Appliance; McNeill sells washer; Essie Ball; Wright Opera House; Wright Opera House; Clarence and Charlie McNeill; Virginia Ball; 218 W Oak Street.