Davidson's Was Long-time Clothing Retailer in Downtown

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - by Harmon Jolley
Photo of Davidson store front from Chattanooga Commercial Review of 1914
Photo of Davidson store front from Chattanooga Commercial Review of 1914

Mention the topic of the glory years of shopping downtown to half-centenarians and their elders, and many will tell of Loveman’s, The Leader, Miller Brothers, and T.H. Payne.  All were locally-based stores that had grown up with Chattanooga.   One could mix in a few stops at Jack’s Records, the Martin or Rogers movie theaters, the Orange Julius, and Planters Peanuts, and have a fun day in downtown.

There is one store which I recently learned of that was also locally-based, and also around for years – Davidson’s.

  The retail clothier was founded in 1881 by Charles A. Davidson, who had earlier moved to Chattanooga to work at the Roane Iron Company.  Two sons, Robert and Edward, helped their father with the store at 811 Market Street.  Their slogan was “the best goods obtainable at a reasonable profit and one price to all.”

Upon the passing of the elder Davidson in 1899, the Davidson brothers became managing partners of Davidson’s.  Edward became the store’s president in 1912, when Robert relocated to Boise, Idaho.  That same year, the store was extended through to Broad Street.  Typical of many downtown retailers, the building’s second story was used for storage of merchandise.

In 1946, control of Davidson’s passed to new out-of-town ownership under Louis Kunlan and Robert M. Stein.  The September 12, 1946 Chattanooga Times reported that a formal grand opening of the new Davidson’s would be held that day.  Models from various sororities at the University of Chattanooga participated in a fashion show.   The store had been remodeled, and was now air-conditioned.  Neon signage displayed “Finer Clothes” above the name “Davidson’s.”

The cash registers of Davidson’s eventually opened nevermore (Had to work in that word, since the Ravens are in the Super Bowl).  On March 29, 1966, the Chattanooga Times reported that Davidson’s would be having a going-out-of-business sale.  The lease on the building had expired, and would not be renewed.  Discounts of up to fifty per cent were offered on familiar brands of clothing - Gant, Hathaway, Jantzen, and Manhattan among them.

If you have memories of Davidson’s, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@bellsouth.net.  I’ll update this article with some of your feedback.

Advertisement from Chattanooga Weekly Commercial of 1-1-1882
Advertisement from Chattanooga Weekly Commercial of 1-1-1882

John Shearer: Happy 100th Birthday To A Riverview Landmark And Old Friend

This Friday marks the 100th birthday of the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club’s clubhouse, a Riverview building that for years has dominated the landscape because of both its commanding location and its Tudor architecture.   Although the structure had a significant facelift and a wing added about 25 years ago to better meet the membership needs, it still mostly resembles ... (click for more)

Remembering the Tennessee Red Cedar and Novelty Company

Cedar chests were once popular graduation or wedding gifts, and have been handed down through generations.    The oils in the cedar wood were said to repel moths, though some scientists say that this is overrated.    However, if the claims are true, then there once must have been very few moths flying around East Fourteenth Street where the Tennessee Red ... (click for more)

Pedestrian Struck And Dragged An Estimated 4 Blocks Early Friday Morning Was Levi S. Youster, 22

Early Friday morning the Chattanooga Police Department responded to reports of a pedestrian struck near 400 Cherry Street.   Once on scene, officers found Levi S. Youster, 22,  suffering from serious injuries caused by being dragged by the vehicle an estimated four blocks.   He was transported to a local hospital and is expected to live. Investigators ... (click for more)

Flash Flood Warning Issued For Hamilton County; Cancellations And Road Closings Announced

A flash flood warning has been issued for Hamilton County for Thursday afternoon. It was reported t ramp from I-24 West to Cummings Highway was closed, due to flooding. The Chattanooga Fire Department reported  roads were underwater at 3rd and Roanoke. UTC softball’s Thursday doubleheader with non-conference foe UAB at Frost Stadium has been cancelled due to the ... (click for more)

Proud Of Hometown Boy Turned Global Leader, Bob Corker

Time Magazine has it right.  Not only is Chattanooga’s own U.S. Senator Bob Corker one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” but he is probably now the most prominent leader in the history of our city.   At a time of extreme frustration with Washington and Congress in general, Bob continues to rise above the division and rancor to build consensus and solve ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Celebrate Autism’s Victories

As I was getting my salad during lunch at the sixth annual Chattanooga Autism Conference on Friday, a simple question from a friendly kid on the other side of the buffet gave me the answer I was seeking. “Do you have Asperger’s (syndrome),” he asked in a friendly way. I told him no, but that a growing number of folks I admire did, and that’s why I joined a turn-away crowd of ... (click for more)