A number of recent posts in a Facebook group dedicated to local history are related to Main Street stores that have come and gone, prompting me to share information I’ve learned about The Paris, once located in the building that now houses Sylva Market and Signature Brew.
A department store that sold men’s and ladies’ clothing on Main Street for a dozen or so years in the 1920s and early 1930s, The Paris name is still visible near the building’s top.
Thanks to retired Western Carolina University special collections Director George Frizzell, I also have a newspaper article on the store that appeared in the Nov. 12, 1931, edition of The Jackson County Journal as well as an ad that appeared in The Ruralite – this newspaper’s forerunner – on Jan. 24, 1928.
Headlined “The Paris Department Store,” The Journal story has a much longer subtitle – “A Leading Department Store in This Section of North Carolina, Doing an Extensive Business by Enjoying the Confidence of the Masses throughout This Section.”
There’s no indication that the report is an advertisement, though it reads more like a testimonial than a news story:
“A representative department store in this section of North Carolina is The Paris Department Store here in Sylva, offering at all times a most exclusive line of seasonable merchandise at prices that are exceedingly attractive.
“All the goods carried in stock by the store come from the arbiters of the very latest fashions and are of rare beauty and design, which seems characteristic of this modern establishment, as the garments from this store are not just ordinary, but each and every one has a distinctiveness and style all of its own.
“Though many miles removed from New York, which is now recognized as the style center of the world, this efficient establishment is thoroughly up-to-date and its many departments are replete with the many models of the hour in the various materials and shades that have been approved by the world’s leading style artists. No sooner has any style been accepted by the leading fashion authorities of the nation than it at once makes its appearance in this aggressive store, and is presented in a variety of materials for the choice of the people of this section.
“In The Paris Department Store is found not only the style and material in the most popular vogue of today but the most conservative of modest garments that has met with universal approval are also here. As regards price, you will find these garments, which hang in graceful lines, are offered at most astonishing low prices, for while this store enjoys the patronage of the leading citizens of the community, it is also the most popular store within many miles among people of every walk of life.
“At this very popular department store is carried an excellent line of high-grade garments and specialties in both men’s and women’s wear, in best quality and latest styles and at prices that will suit your pocketbook. The Paris Department bears the reputation of carrying one of the largest stocks of goods to be found in this section of North Carolina, and draws its trade not only from the city, but from the country for miles around.”
The 1928 ad gives us an idea of the prices store owner A.M. Simons charged for his wares. Cotton thread was 3 cents a spool, with a limit of five spools; ladies hats were $1; women’s dresses (values to $10) were $3.98, while ladies coats (values to $15) were selling for $6.98, making them the most expensive item listed in the ad. Men’s flannel shirts were 49 cents each, while towels were 10 cents each and baby blankets were 59 cents each. The Paris had fabric as well, for 30-inch wide gingham was 10 cents per yard, sheeting (good grade) was 10 cents and curtain goods were 5 cents.
The Paris logo at the bottom of the ad features the words “Dress Better, Pay Less” and proclaims that it’s “Your Department Store – Use It.”
In summing up what the local store offers, The Journal wrote: “Don’t think of Asheville when in need of Ready-to-Wear, but instead, go to the big Paris Store, here in Sylva.”
Lynn Hotaling was editor of The Sylva Herald for 18 years, retiring in January 2016. She is the author of two books on local history.