The McWhorter family established City Upholstery in the 1930's. Mr. McWhorter operated the business out of his detached two-car garage until his death in 1960. That same year Mrs. McWhorter, who no could longer maintain the business, put it up for sale.
Having seen the add in the local paper, Ken Waters talked to the family and purchased the business which consisted of one sewing machine, some work tables and a handful of tools. They allowed Ken to rent out of their garage until he could find a permanent location to set up shop.
A Road Runs Through It
In '61, Ken and his wife Ann - who was pregnant with their first child - had saved enough money and were ready to make their move. They had found the perfect location in an up-and-coming area on the north side of Pasadena. Ken bought the building on Sterling and Richey and immediately dug in. The business took off fast. This was a prime location in 1961 and a lot of building and new construction was going on; in this case… too much! After being located there for only two years, He found himself in a precarious position. The county had decided that the new highway they were putting in (Highway 225) needed its feeder road to run right trough the center of City Upholstery! This would be bad for business. He was forced to sell, and the county purchased the building from Ken for nickels and dimes.
A Fire Runs Through It
Distraught, Ken and Ann were left to search for yet another location for the business. Scraping together the little amount of money they had, They found a building for rent on Wafer. Business was slow to pick up, but after a year in the new location it became steady once again. But the business' bad luck was not quite over. Six months later, due to faulty wiring, a fire ripped through the old building destroying everything in it. Everything was gone; sewing machines, supplies, tools and every piece of furniture in the shop! Ken purchased new furniture for all the customers who had furniture destroyed by the fire, but since there was no insurance on the building, Ken and Ann were broke and without a shop.
Things Get Better
Not giving up hope, Ken and Ann moved the business to an inexpensive building on Southmore. It was small, but at least it kept City Upholstery open and operating. Ken took a second job at Joskey's during the day and worked at the shop at night. Ann as always, did the accounting and taxes while staying home with, now, two children. A year of grueling schedule and Ken and Ann had had enough. Throughout the past six years City Upholstery had built a fine reputation in the community as a top quality upholstery shop and its customer base was steadily growing. It was time to move to a larger building and focus strictly on the business. Ken quit his job at Joskey's and settled into a 2000 sq. ft building on Preston and Southmore. With three employees and a backlog of calls by anxious customers, Ken got to work on rebuilding City Upholstery once again.
The business prospered there for the next 25 years.
Sadly in 1985, at the age of 57 Ken Waters passed away due to a heart attack. After dedicating his life to his dream, suffering all the hardships of starting and starting over, everything was taken from him in one night. The family was devastated. They were also at odds with what to do with the family business. No one in the immediate family had studied upholstery. Ann had always kept the books and had made calls - she could run the business end but knew nothing of the work.
After long consideration Ann and her family decided to keep the business running. With the help of Felipe Silguero, a longtime employee who had learned from Ken, the family received a crash course in upholstery. Donna, the middle Daughter, learned to do the bookwork while Ann quickly learned to be a fine seamstress and an excellent salesperson. Robert, their youngest, learned the actual upholstery work. With Felipe, one other employee and its new family crew, City Upholstery and Ken's dream was kept alive.
A robbery in 1990 forced a downsize once again, and we moved to our current location at 2803 E. Southmore in 1991. With many years since of running a fulfilling business, we have enjoyed our work and our customers.
In 2008 we lost our mother Ann Waters to cancer. She was the smile on our company’s face and the warmth in our hearts. We miss her dearly! And after 25 years of working together, there isn’t a day that goes by where I am not reminded of her. Her soul is still in this company and her memory within us. We love you Mom.
Although lacking in square footage, our new location still houses the same friendly dedicated artists that longtime customers and new alike have come to trust. The Company's crew boasts many years of experience to provide the customer with the best upholstery service this town has to offer. This is no exaggeration; ask around and you will see. City Upholstery has endured many hardships and changes, but the quality of craftsmanship and excellence in service has always remained