The Company Store

Leaving the Drugstore, we pass through a doorway to find ourselves at the front of the Company Store. It was a very large place. It occupied at least half of the second floor of the Hall and ran the full length of the building.

The best way to describe the Company Store is to say that it was a smaller version of a Wal-Mart store today. It was way before its time. It had many more items for sale than a typical small town general store of that era. It was a combination hardware, furniture, grocery, clothing, shoe and sporting goods store, all under one roof.

There was no other store anywhere close to Pacolet that had the variety and quantity of things for sale that the Company Store had. In looking back, there were almost no stores in the city of Spartanburg that had the variety of things it did. Probably, the only store that could have come close to matching it would have been a Sears store. Spartanburg did have a Sears but I don’t think that it was opened until the early 1950’s.

As a child, I remember my parents taking me to the Company Store to buy me shoes and boots, usually when school started. (Many children, myself included, went barefooted almost all of the time from about May 1 until the first day of school in the fall.)

When I came to the store with my parents for other things, I always left them to go and look at the sports equipment, particularly the baseball gloves and bats. The store also sold all sorts of fishing equipment, and if I remember correctly, rifles and shotguns, .22 bullets and shotgun shells. I think that you could also order coal for your fireplace and ice for an icebox at the store.

The back part of the store was a large area devoted to food and groceries of all kinds. Before World War II and during it, many folks at Pacolet Mills did not have a car. As a result, the Company Store offered a delivery service for your groceries. You bought your groceries and the store would take them home for you. Most folks had walked to the store. I don’t know if they rode home with their groceries or not.

I don’t remember it, but during the depression, the Mill Company sometimes paid their employees with their own script. These paper coupons could be used in the company store just like money.

Mill employees could easily get a charge account at the store. They could charge items during the week and this amount would be subtracted from their pay on pay day. The story is often told of families new to the Mill and not used to this system would charge too much. Unless they were careful, they would always be in debt to the Company Store. That would not be unlike the situation that many folks find themselves with credit cards today.

Glendale Mills also had a Company Store. For an inside look at it, click on

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