In 2014, Don Harkey, owner of Woodlands Unique, lost both his business partner and wife, Kathy, after her two-year battle with breast cancer.
In an effort to ensure his wife’s legacy was honored, Harkey piloted both the Woodlands Unique boutique and launched an affiliated nonprofit to support local breast cancer research.
“It’s a long, arduous journey when you have breast cancer, and when you see what someone has to go through, you want to make a difference,” Harkey said.
The Kathy S. Harkey Breast Cancer Foundation was founded in 2014 shortly after Kathy’s death, supporting breast cancer research at the Baylor College of Medicine, MD Anderson Cancer Center and its support group, Breast Friends. With a portion of proceeds from Woodlands Unique that was donated to the charity, in less than three years, Harkey has contributed more than $100,000 to his causes.
“In some respects, I do see this store [as a tribute to my wife],” Harkey said. “Having an affiliated charity is definitely motivation because if you don’t have a mechanism to fund a charity, it’s hard to raise money, so you want to generate as much profit as you can to support your causes.”
The Harkeys moved to The Woodlands in 1996 and launched a business venture in 2000 when they opened Woodlands Clocks and Gifts. In 2004, they expanded their niche by opening a second store, Southern Home Furnishings.
A decade later, the Harkeys were in the process of building their own storefront to combine both concepts under one roof when Kathy lost her battle with breast cancer—an event that prompted Harkey to open the new store and launch the nonprofit.
“Woodlands Unique is more of a lifestyle-type store than a traditional furniture store,” he said. “We have a lot of different products here from furniture to clothing and gift items—our inventory is constantly changing.”
With a wide array of merchandise, Harkey said when it comes to furniture, he typically only buys one of each item to keep his inventory as eclectic and fresh as possible. Harkey said the majority of his products are domestic as he buys items from markets as close as Dallas to as far as Las Vegas and High Point, North Carolina.
“If you only buy from one spot, then your store is going to end up looking all the same,” he said. “So we try to have different sources for different types of items.”
In addition to unique furniture pieces, the store also carries home decor, college wear, boutique-style clothing, women’s shoes, jewelry, bath products and, of course, clocks.
The store also features a line of Kathy S. Harkey Breast Cancer Foundation clothing.
Although Woodlands Unique does not sell furniture online, Harkey said online sales account for nearly half the business’ profits. The shop also offers delivery services for large items for customers who live locally.
“We picked our name because it gives us the ability to expand our clothing line or other areas without having to actually change our name,” Harkey said. “It’s just a matter of educating people on what type of store we are. If they don’t come in here, then they’ll never know.”