Christmas in July – a reader gifts us with a 1911 dry goods advert

Kathi Giden called us out of the blue and offered to give to the HSR an 8-page advertisement dated 1911 for Mrs. Alfred Smith’s store that residents once referred to as “Riverton’s John Wanamaker store.”

Mrs. Alfred Smith, New Era, Feb 25, 1925

Riverton’s hometown newspaper, The New Era, profiled the thriving enterprise in its February 25, 1925 issue.

John Wanamaker Building, Philadelphia, PA. Scanned postcard image courtesy of William Downs

For you young’uns who don’t get the dated reference, John Wanamaker’s was the first department store in Philadelphia.

Like the much larger larger emporium at 13th and Market, Mrs. Alfred Smith’s dry goods and notions store stocked a large and varied stock of quality merchandise and built a fine reputation for its courtesy, integrity, and customer service. It served the community for more than fifty years.

Railroad Station c1905, Price Building at right. Scanned image courtesy of Nick Mortgu

The first floor of the three-story Price Bldg. opposite the old Pennsylvania Railroad Station first housed the shop which opened July 1, 1895.

The New Era 1909 Christmas Issue, p6

The business grew and relocated about 1905 to the brick mansarded double at 412 Main Street.

The proprietress clearly understood the power of advertising when, in 1911, she published this 8-page advertisement for the business.

Click on the cover page below to see the PDF file for the entire ad.

The Riverton Holiday Messenger, Christmas 1911. Original publication, a gift from Ms. Kathi Giden

The Historical Society of Riverton is indebted to Ms. Giden for her donation of this rare advertisement.

414 Main on left, 412 on right
Smith store sold March 1946

The store later moved to a one-story building erected for the purpose at 414 Main. (You might recognize 414 Main as the home of The Sharon Shop, a popular lunchtime eatery for students and teachers in the 1970s.)

Downsized in the mid-1940s, according to a report in The New Era, the store returned to the Smith home at 412 Main, but we have not determined how long it remained open.

Can a reader help? We welcome additional particulars and photos about Mrs. Alfred Smith’s store. – JMc