Vanishing Texana Museum

Last week’s Jacksonville Progress carried a short article about Stage Stores seeking bankruptcy protection. For many, this article was about a clothing store on South Jackson Street, but for many others it is the end of a historic Jacksonville business.

In 1923, three brothers – Archie, Willie, and Robbie Beall – opened a small dry goods store in Henderson. Their motto was “Quality merchandise at reasonable prices, with one price to all.” This motto of being fair businesspersons would be the basis of their growth and success.

When the Great Depression hit, they were active in purchasing other dry good stores that had not been as careful with their operations.

By 1930, Bealls had grown to seven stores.

It was that year that the brothers bid on purchasing two retail stores, one in Tyler and the former J.L. Douglas Dry Goods store in Jacksonville.

They won the bid for the Jacksonville store. Records indicate the business was located in “the old Mayfield building” which we think became a Piggly Wiggly Market and then today, the Norman Activities Center.

There was a second floor to the building and so the home office of the Beall Brothers stores was established in Jacksonville. They remained there until 1936, when they moved to a new location at 118 E. Commerce St.

The Treasure Cove antique mall is located in their old headquarters. If you visit Treasure Cove, you will still see the Bealls' name at the entrance. Bealls corporate offices were located upstairs.

By 1957, the company had grown to 38 stores, all in small Texas communities like our own.

That year. they moved their headquarters and warehouse operations to a new location on “the Henderson Highway.” Today that building houses Concentrix.

By the time of the Jacksonville Centennial in 1972, there were 61 stores, all in Texas, except for one in Oklahoma.

The founding fathers had been replaced by their sons, who continued to operate much as their fathers had until the 1980s.

In 1983, the store buyers moved to Dallas to be closer to their sources of supply. In 1984, the retail store was moved to the current Stage Store location at 1712 S. Jackson St.

By 1986, a new warehouse and distribution center opened north of downtown at 506 Bealls Blvd.

The 1980s were some of the toughest economic times Texas had ever seen. Oil prices were falling fast and the economy suffered a major contraction.

In 1988, driven by many family members who lived in Jacksonville, corporate officers Royce and Ray Beall announced plans to sell the company Beall's. Only 13 percent of the stock holders voted against it.

The Beall stores were combined with the Palais Royal Stores in Houston to form a new company that would eventually become the Stage Stores. Currently, Stage Stores operates 550 stores in 40 states under a variety of names.

On May 14 of this year, the company announced plans to reopen its stores that had been closed due to the COVID-19 virus and bankruptcy proceeding to begin liquidation sales.

Unfortunately, your Vanishing Texana Museum doesn’t have any Bealls memorabilia on display. Hopefully, some of you still have something we can exhibit to memorialize the many contributions the Beall families and company made to our community.

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