It’s no secret that downtown Jacksonville used to be a thriving center of retail activity before being derailed by several factors in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
We’ve previously chronicled some of the department store chains that took up residence downtown during its heyday, but there were so many other, smaller shops that contributed to the rise and growth of the once-active downtown shopping district. Some of them were larger, national chains, while some were based here in Jax. Together, along with the bigger department stores, they made up what amounted to an outdoor shopping mall in the urban core.
We’ve chosen a few of those smaller shops to briefly profile below. For those who have memories of these shops and others, we would love to hear your stories – especially if you feel that there are important shops that we’ve omitted. Check out our list below and see what sparks your memory!
Popular national five-and-dime store chain S.H. Kress & Company was a staple in downtown Jax for seven decades. The company first opened a smaller store downtown before building its more memorable two-story shop in 1912. Located at the corner of Main and Adams streets, the store featured a lunch counter and tea room and sold various inexpensive items – almost like a fancier version of modern-day dollar stores.
Kress was acquired by another national retailer in the mid-‘60s and began focusing more on shopping malls, which were rapidly becoming the new retail hotspots in cities around the country. The downtown Jacksonville location closed its doors in the 1970s, and its building was sold to a financial company and modified significantly to conceal its original use.
S.H. Kress & Co. was purchased in 1981 and, aside from a few existing stores, it was discontinued as a brand. The Kress building still stands today and houses local law firm Farah & Farah.