Remember When, Chattanooga? National Shirt Shops sold $1 ties

Times Free Press archive photo via ChattanoogaHistory.com. This newspaper photo shows the National Shirt Shop on Market Street that opened in 1951.
Times Free Press archive photo via ChattanoogaHistory.com. This newspaper photo shows the National Shirt Shop on Market Street that opened in 1951.


Chattanoogans of a certain age may remember the National Shirt Shops location at 718 Market St.

The accompanying photo shows the store in the chain that opened here in 1951. A previous downtown location in a different block of Market Street had been open since 1928. The store is flanked in the photo by Colliers women's clothing store and Pollocks shoe store.

"Your new (National Shirt) store on Market Street is a unit of the largest organization in the United States devoted entirely and exclusively to men's furnishing," an April 6, 1951, ad in the Chattanooga Times said.

Men's furnishings stores stocked shirts, ties, socks and other clothing accessories, but not necessarily suits and sport coats. In earlier times such a store was often called a haberdashery.

Shirts and ties in 1951 at National Shirt Shops were real bargains, even when accounting for inflation. An ad for shirt store merchandise touted hand-painted initial ties for $1, men's dress shirts with plastic collar stays for $2.95 and argyle socks for 55 cents a pair.

In 1951, the growing chain had more than 60 stores nationwide, including locations in Nashville, Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama.

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In the 1960s, a National Shirt Shops location opened in Eastgate Center and the chain advertised having stores "coast to coast." In 1969, there were nine National Shirt Shops locations in Tennessee, according to news reports.

A 1969 article in the Chattanooga Times noted the growing chain benefited from a policy of allowing returns at any of its stores, so you could mail a gift to someone in another city and the person could exchange or return it in their hometown.

The stores also capitalized on the the growing trend of bank-card credit. The Eastgate location, which was open until at least 1985, accepted BankAmericard, which was rebranded in 1976 as Visa.

To read more installments in this series visit ChattanoogaHistory.com or join the "Remember When, Chattanooga?" public group on Facebook.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645.