EARLY — Customers, dignitaries including Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and other well-wishers descended on Weakley-Watson Sporting Goods in Early Saturday to help the store celebrate its 140th year in grand style.
    Miller presented David Furry, the store’s owner, with the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Treasure Award, which recognizes the accomplishments of Texas businesses that have provided employment opportunities and support to the state’s economy for at least 50 years.
    There store has been open at its Early location, 515 Early Blvd., since March 2015. Furry bought the sporting goods portion of the Weakley-Watson hardware store from the Blagg family in 2013 and kept the Weakley-Watson name. Weakley-Watson was founded in 1876.
    The store was crowded with well-wishers and customers who shopped as usual and took advantage of store promotions throughout the festival-like day. Several businesses including Glock and Bond firearms, Sheppard Taxidermy, Benchmade and Kershaw knives, Hooligan Hoggers and a Rogue Aviation helicopter had displays, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife brought an Operation Game Thief trailer.
    The day also featured canine retriever demonstrations by Glenda Mitchell and her daughter, Juli, of Kanati Kennels of Early, and their dogs.
    Guests included Mike Blagg, co-owner and general manager of the Weakley-Watson store in Brownwood that once included the sporting goods store.
    Early Mayor Bob Magnum stepped up to a microphone inside the store and introduced Miller, an eighth-generation farmer and rancher who was accompanied by his wife, Debra. Miller, a native of DeLeon, formerly served as a member of the Texas House of Representatives.
    Miller said he’d cleared his schedule to attend the the sporting goods store’s 140h anniversary and present the Texas Treasure Award. Miller said his heritage is “this part of Texas,” noting he grew up in Comanche County. Miller also said he spent many of his childhood and teenage years working on a 6,000-acre ranch the Miller family leased on Williams Ranch Road in Brown County.
    “We would come in to Weakley-Watson to buy horseshoes, hating supplies, hunting license,” Miller said.
    Miller also said he has a history with Early, where he once owned two businesses.
    “This is something that really means a lot,” Miller said of the Texas Treasure Award. “It is a very prestigious award. This business has been instrumental in Texas. It was here, almost, from the inception. It started in the late 1800s. That’s really something.
    “We have a certain mystique of a western lifestyle, a certain family work ethic, and the reason we have that is because of places like Weakley-Watson and this gun store.”
    Miller also presented Furry with a proclamation on behalf of the Department of Agriculture.
    “I graciously accept this (Texas Treasure Award),” Furry said. “On behalf the Weakley family, the Watson family and the Blagg family, and of course on behalf of the Furry family, we accept this award.”
    Furry also said the award was on behalf of the “astronomical number” of employees who have worked for Weakley-Watson since its 1876 founding.
    “But most of all, I thank the citizens, the customers, that come in and out of the door every day,” Furry said. “To continuously support this store for 140 years, that’s absolutely phenomenal.”      
    Furry presented Miller with two knives and a cap that shows support of the Second Amendment and Blue Lives Matter.
    “We’ll do this again in 140 years,” Furry said.