The Vagabond – Downtown sidewalk curb market in 1920s

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By Danny Crownover

In 1947, an announcement that the new Gadsden Curb Market at Sixteenth Street and Forrest Avenue would be opened shortly recalled that the business was first opened on Nov. 13, 1923 as a sidewalk institution without shelter or any sort of facilities or conveniences.

The store (pictured at right) was first located on a vacant lot on Chestnut and Fouth Streets where the Star Laundry once stood. The business was made possible by the cooperation of various civic clubs, the county farm demonstration office and local merchants.

There was much newspaper publicity at the time, and every effort was made to sell the idea to the farmers, who came in slowly at first, as the products for sale were rather shoddy-looking.
The products eventually caught on, however, and there was a vast improvement in the store merchandise as time went along. The market soon had to be moved to the sidewalk on the corner of Sixth and Chestnut streets, where the J. C. Pippin Dry Cleaners is presently located.

Miss Ita Stocks was the first market-master and served for about three months. Early the following spring, Miss Dianna Bankston (later Mrs. J.E. Williams) was named county home demonstrator and became manager of the market by virtue of the office. She did so well that the civic bodies provided for her a building on Eighth Street between Forrest Avenue and Chestnut Street.

Mrs. Williams had seen the market grow from nothing to one that did a business of more than $270,000 in 1947. Through her efforts and those of the county agent local businessmen, the business encouraged the production of all kinds of food, the sale of which brought returns that the producers never dreamed of before. Those returns were used to improve homes and farms, to educate children and to lift mortgages.

The sale of flowers alone was a big item in the farm economy in Etowah County. The sale of milk and butter helped to increase and improve dairying, while the sale of fruits caused the planting of more and better orchards.

The all-steel building on Forrest Avenue cost around $35,000 and was considered the most modern of its kind in the state.

Contact The Vagabond at dkcrown@bellsouth.net.

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