Washington History, State Pride January 24, 2023
10 Businesses That Anyone Who Grew Up In Washington Will Undoubtedly Remember
If you grew up in the Evergreen State, you might have fond memories of stores and restaurants from your childhood like visiting with Santa at Frederick and Nelson or celebrating a birthday at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour. See if you remember any of these 10 businesses that no longer remain in Washington.
Woolworth's, also known as the F.W. Woolworth Company, opened its first store in 1879. Once one of the largest retail companies in the world, Woolworth's chain of department stores closed its doors in 1997 due to growing competition.
Believe it or not, there were once five-and-dime stores where products actually cost a nickel or a dime! Sprouse-Reitz was a five-and-dime store founded in Tacoma in 1909 and grew to 470 stores in 11 states during its peak. Sprouse-Reitz closed its final remaining stores in 1993 but Washingtonians still fondly remember their lunch counter and photo booth.
It's hard to imagine taking photos and having to wait for the film to be developed before we could find out if they turned out or not, but that's exactly what we did before digital cameras came into our lives. Rolls of film were dropped off at the Fotomat drive-through and our Kodachrome images were picked up a day or two later. You might still see a Fotomat kiosk from time to time in the form of a converted coffee drive-through.
Until 1971, Longacres Horse Racing Track was the only place in Washington where gambling was legal. Longacres was the longest, continually running racetrack on the West Coast from its opening in 1933 until its final race in 1992.
5. XXX Root Beer
XXX Root Beer was the first drive-in restaurant in the Pacific Northwest. The concept of XXX Root Beer and hearty diner food proved a winning combination and the signature orange barrel started popping up throughout the United States. Today the only remaining XXX Root Beer drive-in with its original sign is in Issaquah where it stands as a nostalgic blast from the past.
Jafco was founded in 1957 with headquarters in Seattle. This multi-million dollar retail chain focused mainly on its mail-order catalog for sales of household items, stereo equipment, and holiday gifts. By 1986, all Jafco stores had been acquired by Best Stores but succumbed to financial difficulties and closed in 1997.
7. Frederick and Nelson
Frederick and Nelson was a department store chain founded in 1891 and based in Seattle. Locals might remember Frederick and Nelson for their festive Christmas decorations and delicious Frango chocolates.
8. Ernst Home Center
Founded in Seattle as a chain of home improvement stores, Ernst thrived in the Northwest until its liquidation and closure in 1997.
This bookstore chain popped up in malls across America in the 70s and 80s but closed for good in 2011.
10. Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour
What do birthday parties in the 70s all have in common? They were celebrated at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour. Once the go-to place for events and celebrations, Farrell's closed its final location in 2019.
Do you remember any of these iconic businesses? What memories did they stir up? Tell us in the comments.
Want to dig deeper into Washington’s history?
Check out these 9 things you might not know about Washington.
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