Article Contributed by
Joan V. Cusimano Lindquist
Very little is known about The Jamestown Mart. The city directories from the 1930s to the 1960s do not list such a store or the individual businesses that made up the Mart. The building’s address, however, is 1-7 North Main Street because the Mart occupied the same location as the H.M. Reich Department Store, which places it in the New Warner Block. A comparison of the façade of H.M. Reich, which was the subject of my August column, and the Jamestown Mart reveals this exact Brooklyn Square location.
The large sign advertising The Jamestown Mart states “Service—Quality, Lowest Prices” as well as “Super Value Store—Merchandise.” Signs in the upper windows advertise various types of personal furnishings (shirts, ties, underwear), candies, quality meats, vegetables, baked goods, Scott’s fruit and vegetables, and groceries—a seeming hodge-podge of goods!
The individual stores, and there seem to be four, assembled under one roof offered a number of different products, and the store to the extreme left appears to be selling butter, eggs, and meat. The large center sign advertises chuck roast at 12 cents a pound, and the rest of the items sell at the same low prices—anywhere from 10 cents to 15 cents per pound. Research shows that these prices, especially that of beef chuck roast at 12 cents per pound, reflect the cost of this cut of meat during the Great Depression. In the 1920s it would have sold for much more, but America was riding high in the decade after WW I, and jobs and money kept the economy afloat.
We know from the center store, which bears the name “The Mart” that it was “Jamestown owed and operated” and the names “Johnson and Worth” also signify joint ownership in one of the enterprises.
Again, it is difficult to date this photo that comes from the Fenton History Center Photo Collection, but based on pricing of goods, it probably is safe to say that The Jamestown Mart was in business during one or maybe two years of the Depression. Certainly, it lacks the elegance of H.M. Reich Department Store that was located in this same section of North Main Street, but perhaps that is also an indication of the hard times that America was going through in the 1930s.
If any reader of the Jamestown Gazette recognizes The Jamestown Mart or has any information about it, I would welcome any comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.