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Community Columns Heritage Yesteryear

Capitol Sweet Shoppe opened its doors on West Main in 1930

July 22nd, 2013 8:55 am by Bob Cox

Capitol Sweet Shoppe opened its doors on West Main in 1930

A Monday, March 21, 1930 edition, of the Johnson City Staff-News had an attention grabbing announcement as noted in my column photo. I decided to fire up my Yesteryear Time Machine and take us on a trip to participate in the store’s “Grand Opening.” After setting the dial to that date, 2 p.m. and 248 W. Main St., we swiftly arrive at our destination in yesteryear.
When W.A. Powers, manager, and V.S. Painter, assistant manager, observe our curious vehicle parked outside, they greet us and then escort us into their shop. The former business at the site had been the Claroy Confectionery.
The manager further noted that they were competing with seven local confectioners: Arcade Fruit Market, Kinmeyer Confections, The Kiosh, The Longmire, Dewey Sells, Wynne & Huskey and Zimmerman’s News Stand. Two others were wholesale: Jennings Candy Co. and Long Candy Co.
The two managers possessed an ambitious, impressive business outlook, saying they were prepared to render a service to the public that was unsurpassed in Northeast Tennessee. All they asked was that customers give them an opportunity to fulfill their pledge.
Painter insisted that we sit down at a table and enjoy some delightful Southern Maid Ice Cream. On opening day, they offered their patrons a complimentary dish or cone of ice cream. We accepted the offer and cooled off with our favorite flavor of creamy delight.
The owners chose this special brand of ice cream because, as noted by Mr. Painter, “Every spoonful confers that satisfying sensation of sated thirst and delightful coolness with each flavor possessing an appeal all its own, being the preferred dessert and standard refreshment.” Southern Maid Inc. was located at 500 S. Roan.
Powers told us the store was in relatively good condition when they acquired it. They were very pleased with their efforts to upgrade it because they desired to show their customers an entirely new confectionery, desiring that their patrons find a new store there that was dramatically unlike the previous one.
The owners maintained an entirely new and complete stock of drugs and sundries in order to satisfy their public’s needs. They even offered delivery service to those who found it inconvenient to come to their store. All they needed to do was pick up the phone receiver and ask the operator to ring “1279.” Surprisingly, they boasted, “We’ll gladly deliver what you want anywhere at anytime.” Did they own a time machine?
The Capitol Sweet Shoppe had ample parking spaces plus efficient, clean and courteous curb service. The shop even offered eight-hour film developing service that they obtained from Keebler Studio located at 208.5 E. Main.
An announcement on the wall read, “In line with our policy of buying our entire supplies, insofar as possible, from local wholesalers and manufacturers, we take great pleasure in announcing that our complete stock of drugs and drug sundries were purchased from the Smith-Higgins Co., a local wholesale drug house.” It was located nearby at 204-06 W. Market (in the block of buildings demolished in 2012 for flood control).
The store awarded R.S. McDaniels a $10 prize for coming up with the best name for the new venture. As we ambled around the store, we helped ourselves to free souvenirs and enjoyed their new Majestic Combination Radio and Victrola that furnished music from the radio as well as 78-rpm records. Another nice feature was a bulletin board that displayed sports returns and the latest news happenings.
The Jennings Candy Co. located at the corner of King and Boone streets placed an ad in the paper congratulating the Capitol Sweet Shoppe team for their new venture and wishing them the best.
After thanking the employees for their warm hospitality, we climbed back into our time machine and made a speedy trip from yesteryear back to the present.
I became curious about how long the Capitol Sweet Shoppe remained in business. It was at the same location and name through 1944, but moved around 1948 to 124 E. Market next to McLellan’s rear entrance and the narrow Arcade crosswalk between Main and Market streets. By 1953, it had relocated to 243 W. Market at Whitney, but two years later, I find no mention of it.  

Email boblcox@bcyesteryear.com or visit www.bcyesteryear.com.

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