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

Dalton, Ga. Featured In Old Post Cards

Dalton, Ga., is featured in four old post cards that were sent by a traveling minister to his home-bound sister in North Carolina. Mabel Snead Smawley had a hobby of collecting post cards and brother, Albert Snead, often obliged her. He sent four from Dalton on Feb. 12, 1906. The post cards, featuring Dalton scenes that are actual photos, was published by George W. Horan ... (click for more)

Guided Bicycle Tour on Environmental History September 15

The Chattanooga History Center will partner with Outdoor Chattanooga to offer a bicycle tour on Tuesday, September 15, 2015.  "An Environmental History of Chattanooga" will be guided by Caroline Sunderland, Senior Educator at the CHC, and Outdoor Chattanooga staff and volunteers. Registered participants will meet at Outdoor Chattanooga (200 River St, Chattanooga, TN 37405) ... (click for more)

Boy, 4, Struck By Vehicle Near Tunnel Boulevard

A four-year-old boy was struck by a vehicle near Tunnel Boulevard on Saturday afternoon. A t approximately 4:20 p.m.,  the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 3400 Through St. on a c hild struck by a vehicle.  T he victim was conscious when officers arrived. He was transported to a local hospital. I nvestigators are continuing to compile ... (click for more)

Assessor Bennett, Former Assessor Ramsey In Jetton Camp For Assessor Of Property

Assessor of Property Bill Bennett and former Assessor Claude Ramsey recommended Sterling Jetton as the next assessor at a breakfast fundraiser at Wally's Restaurant in East Ridge on Saturday morning. Mr. Jetton, who spent 27 years in the assessor's office, is running against County Commissioner Marty Haynes in the March 1 Republican primary. Noting the political heavyweights ... (click for more)

DWT Is DUI

A routine narrative of a DUI arrest report goes something like this:   The defendant was operating a motor vehicle in the 00 block of sonsoroad. The driver was weaving back and forth across the marked roadway. The defendant drove through a stop sign. Was stopped at an intersection despite the traffic light was green. Entered the lane of another vehicle and caused a ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Black Lives Matter’ To Me

Between the time a 14-year-old boy was shot four times late Sunday afternoon on 7 th Street and a 20-year-old reputed gang member was killed Tuesday night on Willow Street, there appeared in my morning reading an article on “Black Lives Matter.” I read it because I mourn over what the black community continues to struggle with in both our city and our country. It is an article, ... (click for more)