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New Online Resource Ranks Richmond's Oldest Businesses

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Richmonders are more than a little crazy for history, and car dealer Whitten Brothers is tapping into that notion. The company has teamed up with a digital company to produce an online resource that ranks the oldest businesses in the area.

Working with Workshop Digital, Whitten Brothers lists the 50 oldest in order. To make the cut, the businesses must have been in existence for the past 40 years.

Topping the list is Billups Funeral Home, founded in 1850. It’s tied in that year by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, formerly the Richmond Daily Dispatch.

Several other funeral homes — Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service (1870), Joseph W. Bliley Co. (1874) and Nelsen Funeral Home (1892) are among the longest-operating businesses. That may not be surprising given that funeral homes have a steady stream of customers and are impervious to business peaks and valleys, notes the site, at whittenbrothers.net/oldest-businesses-richmond.htm.

Jewelry stores likewise make the grade. The oldest is Cowardin’s Jewelers, founded in 1865. That might not have been the happiest year in the city’s history, because much of Richmond burned to the ground in the closing days of the Civil War. But the company has endured.

Other names that are well known locally include spice-maker the C.F. Sauer Co. (1887), law firm Hunton & Williams (1901) and Strange’s Florist (1935). Whitten Brothers (1920) makes the cut, but Richmond Ford (1916) beats it as the oldest car dealer in Richmond by four years.

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