Arkansas April 05, 2018
10 Stores That Anyone Who Grew Up In Arkansas Will Undoubtedly Remember
From department stores to defunct malls, Arkansas has quite the shopping history. They may not all still be with us but let’s look back at some of the state’s most memorable stores. In no particular order, here are ten stores you’ll undoubtedly remember.
1. Muse's Country Store - Heber Springs
This store originally opened in the 1950s under Mrs. Cagle. In the 1970s it changed hands to Mr. and Mrs. Frayser. After staying closed from 1985-2016, new owners have revamped the beloved location. Different generations may have called it by different names, but everyone loves what is now Muse's Country Store.
Stop by and enjoy a RC Cola at 1825 Little Rock Road in Heber Springs.
2. Ben Franklin - Newport
This five-and-dime store originally opened in 1877 as a mail order operation in Boston. The store developed into a variety retail shop and later expanded to 2,500 stores at its peak. The Ben Franklin in Newport was purchased by Sam Walton (yes, that Walton) in 1973; Ben Franklin franchises were his first experience in retail management. The company went bankrupt and closed their stores in mid-90s.
3. (The Original) Walmart - Rogers
Speaking of Sam Walton, another dearly missed store is the original Walmart. Not the super centers of today, but the modest discount stores of the late-60s. The originals strived to only sell American-made products by working with American-based manufacturers.
4. Gibson's Discount Center - Little Rock
H.R. Gibson, creator of Gibson's Discount Centers, was an early rival to Walton. The first store opened in Little Rock in the 1930s but quickly became a nationwide franchise. In the 1970s, Gibson's was the 2nd largest discounter behind (believe it or not) Kmart. Business declined over the years and now only two remain out of the near 700 stores, both in Texas.
5. Lost Valley General Store - Ponca
Unlike some of the other sad tales of closing store, the beloved Lost Valley General Store is doing just fine. It's been in operation since 1923. They're the best place to stop for camping supplies, groceries, or just to get information about the local trails.
They're located on Hwy. 43 #10 in Ponca.
6. Cotham's Mercantile - Scott
It was a sad day when Cotham's could no longer be listed under Arkansas' oldest restaurants. Since 1912, Cotham's served as an Arkansas icon for being "where the elite meet to eat." Unfortunately the original Scott location closed due to fire in May 2017.
Cotham's in the City can still be enjoyed at 1401 W 3rd St. in Little Rock
7. Coursey's Smoked Meats - Saint Joe
Coursey's has been open for over fifty years and it's a must-stop if you're on your way to the Buffalo River. The remote ham house is filled with locally made jerkies, jellies, and honey. Head to the back counter for a sandwich or mail-order mouthwatering smoked bacon.
Coursey's is located at 152 Courseys along U.S. 65 North in Saint Joe.
8. Roundtop Filling Station - Sherwood
Originally built in 1963 by the Pierce Oil Company, the Roundtop is only one of two places in Sherwood that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This little gas station has persevered through numerous owners, name changes, and vandalism. The building is now used by the Sherwood Police Department.
Drive by and see this iconic place at 6491 Roundtop Road in Sherwood.
9. Pfeifers Department Store - Little Rock
Pfeifers was the first department store in Little Rock. It was a big deal for folks to drive into town to get the year's school clothes at Pfeifers. It operated from 1899 until it was purchased by Dillard's in 1963. Dillard's moved their headquarters to the building but later abandoned it in the 1990s. Since then the building has been renovated and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
You can see the building at 601 S Main Street in Little Rock.
10. Phoenix Village Mall - Fort Smith
Phoenix Village Mall was actually the first mall in Arkansas. It opened in the 1970s and housed favorites like Venture, Hunt's, Greg's, and Cuco's Mexican Restaurant. '90s kids may remember the rides at the mall's indoor amusement park, Fun World. Central Mall opened in the 1980s which slowly killed Phoenix Village.
The mall still stands at 4600 Towson Ave. in Fort Smith.
We would love to hear your memories of these stores and other beloved favorites in the comments below! And by no means is this a complete list! What other stores do you bet every Arkansan remembers?
If all that nostalgia made you hungry, why not stop at one of the
oldest restaurants in the state?