Monday, January 19, 2009

No.5: Downtown Tupelo

McGaughy's, a women's department store, was one of many retail establishments in downtown Tupelo when my generation was growing up. Other women's stores included Westbrook's, Pryor's and several others that came and went during my childhood. Men shopped at MLM and Hinds Brothers and of course, Reed's and Black's were department stores for the entire family. As a child, Woolworth's and Ben Franklin and Marlin-Cook's were some of my favorites. Amazingly, there were three jewelry stores next door to each other on Main Street (Dreyfus, Riley's, and Brasfield's), as well as Martin's and Estes Jewelry elsewhere downtown. And there were a number of shoe stores like the Corner Shoe Store, Lyle's, and several others. I always wanted Red Goose shoes because you could get a prize-filled egg with each purchase, but most of my shoes, other than tennis shoes, were Buster Browns from Reed's.

I remember fondly our annual Christmas shopping experiences Downtown, where Christmas music could be heard over speakers throughout the Downtown area. We bought bath powder for our mother at TKE Drug Store and socks or handkerchiefs for our dad at any one of the department stores. Those were simpler times. I don't suppose malls had even been thought of at that time, at least not yet in Memphis or Birmingham.

Today, there is very little retail shopping in Downtown Tupelo other than Reed's and MLM. Tupelo Hardware is still where it was, but all of the others mentioned above have long since departed. Downtown Tupelo is still a vital area with very few vacant buildings, but much of the old retail space is now filled with various business and professional offices.

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