The story of Kannon’s starts more than a century ago. Isaac Kannon immigrated to the United States from Hammana, Lebanon back in 1905. He ended up in Raleigh before establishing Kannon’s in Wendell. And now in 2016, both Kannon’s Men’s and Women’s store will be back home in the state capitol.
We sat down with Boo Jefferson, a part of the third generation of the Kannon namesake, and learned about important the word “family” is the phrase “family business.”
By 1907, Isaac Kannon was peddling Eastern Wake County on horse and buggy, but times were changing quickly.
“In 1914, he decided that Raleigh was a bit too big for him. And the population of Raleigh at the time was only 19,000,” says Boo.
Boo’s grandfather moved to Wendell, NC to establish a business and firm roots in North Carolina. He and his wife purchased a house which was originally the town school and is now a part of the Wendell Historic Trail.
“Our home was called ‘The Big House’ to my cousins. People were coming in and out all the time. All holidays were spent there,” says Boo. And it’s still used today for holidays and family gatherings.
In that house, “Mary Kathryn, George, Joe Ann, and I grew up with older people and we learned a lot about sharing and giving and civility and compassion and that was our first lesson on how to get along with people and how to treat people,” says Boo. “That’s where we learned civility. We were a very close-knit family. I like to kid and say we were the Ewings before the Ewings.”
George Knuckley, Joe Ann Wright, Mary Kathryn Phillips and Boo Jefferson are the third generation to own and operate the Kannon’s clothing brand. And if you’ve ever met Boo or any of her siblings, you know that family is important, but it’s not just limited to blood relatives.
“We treat ours sales associates as family. And that’s very important that our work environment is like that. We treat our customers as family. We know all about their family. That’s why they love coming to Kannon’s,” says Boo. “We are so grateful for every customer that walks through that door. Because that’s what keeps our business going. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to run a business and by treating them the right way, they keep coming back.”
The Next Generation
Boo and her siblings are hoping to pass the business onto their children, but it is by no means mandatory.
“When we got older, my mother never asked us to come back into the business,” says Boo. “She knew it had to be our choice. And that’s what we want for our children.”
Listening to the current generation has been very important. It’s part of why they’ve decided to move to Cameron Village. Even though it’s been tough leaving a town that has been such an integral part of their history, they know what makes Kannon’s is more than where it’s located.
“Change is good. You always have to change and keep up with the times and that’s what we’re doing,” says Boo echoing the words of her mother. “These are only walls. These walls do not make Kannon’s who we are. We make Kannon’s who we are.”
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At Cameron Village, we are certainly excited to be the place where Kannon’s can have a family reunion of sorts. Be sure to stop by and say hello!