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.
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. He started by mostly doing deliveries and hooking things up. In 1984, he took over the business and has been running it ever since.
TVs and appliances continued to sell equally until end of the century. TV sales then started to decline when other stores started selling TVs at cost, with service contracts; Dabney did not believe in this practice. He also stopped selling radios in around 2001 due to the decline in sales. Today, the business only sells appliances.
Dabney’s business is unique because it is individually-owned. Unlike in a big-box store, people can talk to the owner. Dabney hardly advertises at all anymore, because word-of-mouth and online reviews bring customers into his store. He is selling to a third generation of families now.
Dabney describes the evolution of the “Hall’s Hill” neighborhood and the relationship the business has had with the community.
5060 Lee Hwy Arlington, VA 22207
Dabney Wharton, business owner
“[Glebe Radio] is individually owned. There aren’t many stores left like that. At all.”Dabney Wharton, owner
“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
“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
Full Interview on Arlington’s WERA 96.7 (minute 14:22)