Remember When: Down the Hill from High Prices
Published 3:00 pm Friday, April 7, 2023
A 1973 newspaper article reports that The James Store, “Down the Hill from High Prices,” has served the Andalusia area for more than 20 years.
The February 4, 1954 edition of The Andalusia Star reads, “James Store Buys South Cotton Building from Martin Theatre – The two-story building at 208-210 South Cotton Street has been purchased by The James Store from Martin Theatres. Quinton James of Montgomery, owner of the store, said here this week that the sale had been consummated on Tuesday in Columbus, Ga., at the Martin headquarters.”
“The building which houses The James Store, is a brick edifice, 50 by 110 feet. Before The James Store business was established here, the building was occupied by Ganey’s and Benson’s Department Stores.”
“Going back to the 1973 article, “The store purchased from Dunk Ganey in the early 1940s has always featured clothing and shoes for the entire family at popular prices.”
“The well-known slogan “down the hill from high prices” was originated by J. M. White, who managed the store for several years after it was purchased. During the time Mr. White was manager, the floor space doubled from 25 feet to 50 feet.”
“The store through extensive advertising and years of service to south Alabama and west Florida shoppers has become an ‘institution’ in Covington County.”
“George Wallace, a native Andalusian and popular manager of the store for the past 15 years, states, ‘The store now carries many well-known lines of brand name clothing such as Wrangler, Levi, Buster Brown, Movie Star, Storybook, and Sandy McGee. We look forward to many more prosperous years as a part of this great town.’”
Another 1974 article, “James Store Nearing 20th Year in Andy,” announces, “Quinton James of Montgomery, store owner since 1954, has expanded the operation and has twice done extensive remodeling to the interior and exterior of the building.”
“Quinton James is quite at home in south Alabama having lived in Florala for about 10 years as a boy. His business has always tried to have every needed item of clothing and footwear for every family member from the little tot to college age and also mom and dad. The people of Andalusia as well as surrounding area citizens have enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and good honest values found at The James Store.”
“James says, ‘The customer is the most important person in our store, and we will always see that he is treated that way.’”
The James Store definitely did its share of advertising. For example, tickets were sold in the store for the October 1954 event sponsored by The Lions Club – the Chuck Wagon Gang and the Gospel Melody Quartet which was held in the newer Andalusia Municipal Stadium.
Lots of radio advertising was run on the local station WCTA. This writer remembers my mother Marge Bass suggesting a jingle that was a take-off of that popular song on the hit parade, “The whole town’s talking about the Jones boys.” The song for advertising became, “The whole town’s talking about The James Store.” Everybody was humming and singing that jingle. Manager George Wallace loved it and WCTA’s Dige Bishop loved it!
Well, all good things come to an end and all good buildings come to an end these days. It has been determined that The James Store building that once housed the post office in the 1920s has been determined structurally unsound since it was damaged by the collapse of the roof. Engineers have found cracks in the supporting walls and a shifting foundation. The estimate of stabilizing the building’s shell is too costly according to the experts.
The City of Andalusia who purchased the property in 2020 as part of its commitment to downtown redevelopment is in the process of removing the structure which should allow for additional parking in the area soon to be developed for Heritage Park. Hopefully, the historic column that supports the front wall can be saved. It was relocated some years ago from the old Opera House building on South Three Notch and made its way to The James Store. “The whole town’s talking about the Opera House column” and how to save it! Isn’t that right?
I Remember When I would walk in the front door of The James Store on those fun Saturdays when my friends and I would visit all the ten cent stores around town after our rummage sales on the courthouse seat walls. There was a smell of new jeans and overalls. They were folded neatly on tables, sized and sorted. It was a popular place for the farmers who came to town on Saturday to frequent and have a perfect selection of work garments to choose from. “Down the Hill from High Prices” or as some folks called it, located in “The Bottom.” Lots of history, lots of memories on one of the oldest streets in downtown just off Court Square.
Franklin Taxi Co. was located right across the street from The James Store. Some of you may have seen a recent social media post by native Andalusian Randy Franklin where he identified the businesses and buildings there along South Cotton where horse and buggies and mule and wagons once trod. He grew up at his father’s business back in the 1950s and 1960s and is an excellent source for recalling the goings on up and down that street. We will have to line him up to present the history of “The Bottom” at an upcoming historical society meeting. Maybe a sidewalk tour would be even better.
I am looking forward to memories that some of you readers might have of that landmark department store of the past.
Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a former choral music teacher, a local real estate broker, and a long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.