Family keeps presence downtown for 66 years

My life on the south side of Broadway between Ninth and Tenth streets began as manager of Suzanne’s when I returned from the service in 1946 — still wearing my Navy uniform as my pre-service clothes no longer fit.

At that time Suzanne’s was located at 912 East Broadway and was one of five storefronts owned by the James S. Dorsey Estate.

Other stores in that block at the time included Greenspons (900-902), Puckett’s Menswear (906-908), Jacqueline Shoe Store owned by Gene Glenn (910), Blankenship Shoe Store (914), Julie’s Ready to Wear (916), Lindsey’s Jewelry (918), Miller’s Book Store (920) and Sigoloff Ready to Wear (922).

In 1948, with the help of my father and Mr. and Mrs. Kornblum of The Leader Garment Co. in St. Louis, my wife and I were able to purchase a half-interest in Suzanne’s from Lewis Anderson of Chillicothe.

After the war, business was good, the store prospered, and all was well. In 1951, we decided to purchase the Lindsey Jewelry Co. from Mr. and Mrs. Nimrod Lindsey and leased their 918 building from N.D. Evans.

While 918 was being remodeled for Suzanne’s, we were fortunate to rent the vacant space at 914 and converted the windows to look something like a jewelry store.

We sold the stock of merchandise from Lindsey’s between October and December 1951 and recovered our investment by January when the inventory was exhausted.

Late in 1952, we opened the new Suzanne’s at 918. In 1954, we extended the building another 62.5 feet to the alley.

In 1963, Sy Steinberg, the owner of Julie’s, decided to retire, and Pat and I were able to buy his lease and expand Suzanne’s into a double-front store.

Julie’s had two important lessees in their building: Julie’s Studio, owned and operated by Eddie Gibbons and Francis Griffin, and The Bonnet Shop, owned and operated by Frances Horton. With the remodeling and expansion, we were able to retain those two lessees.

Also at that time, H.V. Mullins, co-owner of Suzanne’s, was unhappy that Pat and I had taken the lease of 916 in our own names, and he insisted we purchase his half-interest — which we were happy to do — in 1964. In 1966, my dear friend, lawyer and minor partner, Ralph Alexander, assisted in the purchase of the 916 building. We owned it until 1992 when it was sold.

In 1964-65, we expanded Suzanne’s into the two storefronts (916-918). It was very successful and at the time included five leased departments — Suzie Teens, Torbitt’s Hat Shop, Horton’s Bonnet Shop, Larry Thrower Shoes and Jean Prange’s Cosmetics.

In 1971, Hartzfeld’s (922) burned, and the store didn’t renew its lease. Both 922 and 920 were part of the Booth Building. Pat and I, along with George and Dell Keepers, got the lease from the Booth estate through Acena Booth, with whom I maintained an excellent relationship.

The Miller-Wayland Bookstore was housed in 920.

Acena passed away in the mid-1980s, and the University of Missouri inherited the Booth Building. We purchased it from them in 1997.

After extensive remodeling by my dear friend Bob LeMone and his Little Dixie Construction crew, — which temporarily included my son, Dick — Suzanne’s opened The Columbia Mercantile Co. at 922 and leased the second floor as the public defender’s office run by Bill Mays. We also built a townhouse at the rear of the building, which is currently occupied by The Downtown Community Development Co.

Today, the following stores occupy the storefronts from Ninth to Tenth streets: Copeland Law Firm (900), Crazy Noodle (904), Breeze (906), Saigon Bistro (912), Elly’s Couture (914), Smashmouth Subs (916), Blanc Studio (918) and Poppy (920-922).

My life and relationship with business on Broadway began in 1946 and continues to this day. During that time, I’ve managed, leased or owned six storefronts on the south side of Broadway and enjoyed it all. Another time, I’ll write about the north side of Broadway.