Charles Westenhaver grew up in Los Angeles where his father owned a chain of clothing stores in Washington state, so Westenhaver learned the clothing business at an early age.
Westenhaver attended both grammar and high schools in Los Angeles, after which he spent three years studying at the Leland Stanford law department and another year of law up in Eugene, Ore.
Plans for a law career were sidetracked when his father opened a real estate business in French River in British Columbia, Canada and asked Westenhaver to take charge of its operations.
For the next few years business was good. Westenhaver was making a fine living until Canada entered World War I and Westenhaver decided to return to the United States.
The business was sold and Westenhaver moved to Washington after an urgent request from his father to help him run the family's clothing stores in Aberdeen, Astoria and Hoquiam.
Westenhaver was given the responsibility of running the Astoria store and, under his hand, the store prospered until one day in December of 1922, when a fire broke out. Before the embers cooled, 12 city blocks lay in ruin, including the clothing store.
Instead of rebuilding the store, Westenhaver decided to move back to his boyhood home in California.
For the next six months he went searching for the ideal location for his new clothing store. By chance he heard that opportunities were being made in the oil boomtown of Huntington Beach and, after visiting, he was convinced that this was the place.
At this time Huntington Beach boasted two fine mens' and boys' stores. There was the Thomas P. Smith store at 122 Main Street, run by a young Jack Robertson, who would eventually own his own clothing store on Main Street, and the other was the C.W. Hanke clothing store at 210 Main Street.
On May 19, 1923 Westenhaver opened his clothing store where the old Hanke clothing store had been.
Throughout the 1920s Westenhaver Clothing store carried the latest and the most popular labels.