Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More Store Memories

I blogged earlier about the memories of a couple of now defunct stores that an obituary sparked. I promised to blog later about more stores I remembered from the past, and it is now a meme. I will gather all the various links that are sent in the comments and post them. I know that I've seen one or two others besides those left in the comments so make sure you send those links along to me!



I grew up in the small town of Amory, Mississippi. When I was growing up, we had a dollar store (Fred's - which is still around but is much larger and out on Highway 278 instead of on Main Street) and a dime store (V. J. Elmore's). I loved Elmore's. It was actually in two storefronts. They had old wooden floors which creaked as you walked over them. They had the most interesting toys in little bins that kids could purchase. Another dollar store (or discount store) came into town on Main Street for awhile. It was called Hi-Lo. It simply wasn't as good as Fred's or Elmore's. I don't remember how long it lasted, but it wasn't that long. When the Glendale Shopping Center opened, we then had another store of this type called Sterlings.

As far as clothing, I remember going to the Dorothy Mae shop back when I was small. Later that store moved off Main Street and was renamed The Family Shop. They had one of the better selections of children's clothes. There was also a Black's. Black's had clothes for the entire family. They also had a store in Tupelo. One of the stores was called the Casualaire. They had high-end women's clothing. My mother always called it "the Millionaire's Casualaire." It really wasn't that pricy, but you'd often find the same clothes in Tupelo for about half of what they cost at that store! The store later moved off Main Street. I am not sure if it exists now or not. Anthony's Men's Shop catered to the men.

When I was small, there was no such thing as a chain drug store in town. We usually went to People's Drug Store. There was also a Cutcliffe's drug store, Alexander Pharmacy, and G & Y Drugs. G & Y was a favorite stop for me because they had a real soda fountain. (I think People's had one for awhile too, but G & Y's was open longer. They had little green-padded stools where you could sit around the counter.) They also had a gift shop which was fun to browse. Glendale Shopping Center had East Drugs.

As far as grocery stores, there was McCullen's downtown. You could get some items at this store that you couldn't find at other places. They also delivered groceries. People would call in their orders, and they delivered them. I always liked to talk to Joe & Ira (the owners) as we shopped there. My mom had worked for them for many years so they always treated me extra special! There was a Kroger in town when I was young. It was the first store to close. We had a Big Star. I don't remember who owned it originally, but the local franchise was later purchased by a Larson. They later moved from their location about a block toward town from the middle school out to the corner of Highway 278 and Boulevard Drive. It was still around until a couple of years ago when it became a Vowell's Marketplace. The store was always smelly so it didn't do too well. Food Giant has come in and cleaned the place up, and that store is once again a good place to shop. When the Glendale Shopping Center first opened, it housed an A & P.

I also remember a couple of jewelry stores downtown in Amory. We usually went to Roberts' Jewelry. I remember that the owner had a jeweler's eyepiece (or whatever you call those) that he almost always used. The other one I remember was Wright's Jewelry. I believe that both of these no longer exist.

There were two banks--the Bank of Amory and the Security Bank. Later "Scrib" (J. D. Scribner who owned a huge house with lots of white-fenced land on Highway 25 between Becker and Aberdeen, a self-made millionaire who made his fortune in equipment sales) opened a bank which I believe was then called National Bank of Commerce. All of these banks have now merged with other banks so no local banks exist in Amory today to my knowledge.

I can't adequately cover Amory's stores without mentioning a couple of shoe stores. There was Gilmore's which was owned by a lady named Winnie Gilmore. Mom liked to go there because she could find narrow widths for herself and for me and because Winnie always did a good job fitting shoes. As a child, I was more enamored of Hob Nob Shoe Store which had these wonderful "high seats" in the children's section that I wanted to sit on. I guess they kind of resembled the old shoe shine seats you sometimes see in photos. I will, however, admit that the shoes that we bought at Gilmore's fit better.

We would often go shopping in Tupelo. I remember Brett's which was one of the original anchors of the Tupelo Mall (which is mostly owned by the hospital now, I think). I don't remember what it merged with, but it eventually became McRaes which was bought out by Belk. I'm pretty sure it was something else before it was McRaes. Another store I remember was Kress. It was located somewhere around the center of one of the malls in Tupelo. There used to be a Woolworth in downtown Tupelo. When they opened the Downtown Mall (which is now the convention center), they opened a Woolco which was a larger version of the store.

It's getting late, and I'm running out of steam; however, before I close, I must talk about what to me was the most fascinating store in the whole wide world. It was in Tupelo in a shopping center and was called "The Gizmo." They had the most interesting things (many of them breakable). I just loved to go in and look. If you wanted a pink flamingo, you'd be sure to find one at The Gizmo. They had everything a child could possibly dream of (at least for the 1960s).

I'm sure I'll think of other stores in both Amory and Tupelo that I should have mentioned. I should probably also mention Goldsmith's and Lowenstein's in Memphis which we would visit when we made the trip to the "big city." When I first moved to Cincinnati, we shopped at Shillito's and L. S. Ayres. Both of those disappeared while I was there. They had wonderful bargain basements in the downtown stores.

Times have changed. Today's stores seem to be all cookie cutters compared to some of the stores of the past. I'd love to take a step back in time and go shopping at one of these older stores.

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