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A Look Back: Misses Smith and Klink’s General Store

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By Jolene Hawkins

Looking back as we walk down Main Street, you will see where stores come and they go … changing hands.

In 1882, Mr. Elmer B. Kuhn came to Springville and acquired the stock of dry goods, boots, shoes and groceries of Beebe and Myers. Then it was run by Smith and Gleason, followed by Smith Brothers, which then sold it to H.D. Smith.

In 1921 F.H. Frubus and Kuhn formed a partnership and ran the store. In 1935, the entire stock was sold to Miss Edna Bianca Smith and her niece, Miss Frances Marian Klink.

But who were these ladies that are running a store? Miss Edna Smith and Miss Frances Klink were schoolteachers.

Miss Klink was born Dec. 31, 1892, in Hazelton, Kansas. She attended the University of Kansas and was head of the history department at Wellsville, Ohio, as well as teaching English at Silver Springs, N.Y. She also worked two years at the Buffalo Courier Express. Her father owned a drug store in Oklahoma and later in Kansas, where she was exposed to the retail business.
Miss Edna Smith taught at State Normal School in Indiana and Pennsylvania. She was a supervisor of the Children’s English Department at Bridgeport, Conn., and Perfect of Studies at National Park Seminary in Washington, D.C.
As former school teachers, the selling and buying experience became a new challenge for them. In the early days, Miss Smith would get a shipment of merchandise and when a customer was looking at it, she would get into a long discussion with them, usually bringing out the weaker points of the merchandise with the customer. The customer almost invariably would defend it.
They kept the store much as it was when they purchased it except for enlarging the different departments and bringing in new lines to broaden the store’s perspective.
In the first years when they were open, they sold more yard goods than any other dry goods store of the same size in this area of the state. This fact becomes more remarkable when it is considered that in the late 1930s, people bought most of their clothes ready-made and making them was not as common.
The store engaged four full-time clerks and one part-time clerk, all women. The stock comes directly from manufacturers or salesman as they came in to show what they had. They also had a book department and a sewing department where cloth, needles, thread, countless patterns and other notions soon were seen.
Soon the electric sewing machine was becoming popular and their sales went up once again. They enjoyed running the store for 22 years until July 1958. Then one of the employees, Minnie Westfall, who took care of the account books for the business, had the opportunity to purchase it from Smith and Klink, and as she states, “I bought it!” She remodeled and opened the store under the name of Thimble and Thread Shop.
The main items of merchandise in the store are fabrics, sold from bolts as raw material, to create items like dresses, blouses, draperies, curtains and the like. Among the famous brand names in the store included “Coahoma,” “Fruit of the Loom” and “Spring Knight.” Other items that could be found in the aisles were thread, yarn needles … in fact, anything for needleworkers. Sweaters, blouses, handbags and slips to blankets could be seen stacked neatly on the shelves and or on display.
And once again, 20 years later, the store changes hands. In January 1978, Doris Moritz established the Stitching Post, a place that specialized in all level skills of sewers, including quilting, specialty, sewing and crafts.
So businesses may come and go, but the building and shops stay, and we are fortunate to have people eager to run them, giving us a local place to shop.
Do you have stories to tell us about the town while you were growing up? Photos to share — we will make copies if you are willing to let us — and even story ideas for these articles, well stop down!
Did you know that we have a large selection of Civil War research material that can be used at the Lucy Bensley Center from Echoes Through Time Civil War Museum? Adjutant General reports, maps, journals and more? Stop by to see them.
Want to learn more about the great town from start until now? Feel free to stop by and look at all the material that we have on hand, from the old newspapers, directories, photographs — some with names, and a lot without: maybe you can help us identify people — maps and handwritten journals.

View the work others have done on their own genealogy and more. Come visit with us on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday 9 a.m to 3 p.m. at 23 N. Buffalo St.

Want to hear some good ole music? Well, stop by the Mercantile/Heritage Building on Thursday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m.
You can call us at 592-0094, email us at lucybensleycenter@gmail.com or visit our web page at www.concordnyhistoricalsociety.org.

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