Remember When, Chattanooga? Dean Clothing Co. was a downtown fixture

Chattanooga News-Free Press file photo via ChattanoogaHistory.com. Customers stand outside the Dean Clothing Co. on Market Street in 1951. The store was closing due to a lost lease but later reopened a couple of blocks away at 614 Market St.
Chattanooga News-Free Press file photo via ChattanoogaHistory.com. Customers stand outside the Dean Clothing Co. on Market Street in 1951. The store was closing due to a lost lease but later reopened a couple of blocks away at 614 Market St.

In the spring of 1951, the conflict in Korea was dominating newspaper headlines as life went on here at home.

The accompanying April 1951 photo from the archives of the Chattanooga News-Free Press shows a downtown business, Dean Clothing Co. at 828 Market St., in the process of selling off inventory.

Billed as a "lost lease" sale, the men's store advertised in the newspaper that it was unloading $135,000 in merchandise, the equivalent of about $1.8 million in today's dollars, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Liquidation pricing accounted for the long lines outside the business in this photo. According to ads, hourly specials included white shirts, $1.97; rayon shorts, 67 cents; sweatshirts, 97 cents: men's pajamas, 97 cents; and men's pants, $2.97.

A newspaper ad for the sale read, in part, "We lost our lease. Forced to vacate our present location."

The ad said that a sale such as this "seldom presents itself during these days of hectic wartime shortages and high prices."

At the time of the closing, the Dean Clothing Co. had been in business at the location for nearly 19 years, according to store records. Before that, 828 Market St. was home to the Pizitz Men's Department.

In 1951, Dean's Clothing Co. was flanked by Wells clothing store on the left and Peoples Credit Clothing on the right. Both establishments advertised their credit departments for customers who chose to pay over time. Widespread use of bank credit cards was still at least two decades away.

The first mention of the Dean Clothing Co. in Chattanooga's newspapers was in 1933. It was at the same location and advertised low Great Depression-era prices. In 1933, men's shirts at the store were 25 cents, socks were 8 cents and seersucker suits were $2.99.

After the store's liquidation sale in April 1951, it reopened the next month a couple of blocks away at 614 Market St., where it remained until it closed in 1976. (The new location was between the State movie theater and LeGrand Jewelry Co.)

At the grand opening of the 614 Market St. location in May 1951, the clothing store gave away a free straw hat to customers who spent at least $25 on other merchandise.

In the 1960s, a second Dean Clothing Co. location was opened at 4024 Dayton Blvd. in Red Bank. By the late 1970s both locations, downtown and Red Bank, were closed. The owner of the stores was listed in ads and news reports as J. Dean Sr.

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