'Remember When, Chattanooga?' Effron’s was a leading department store

Chattanooga News-Free Press archive photo via ChattanoogaHistory.com / A 1948 photo of Effron's Department Store shows the busy establishment on Market Street that was part of the local retail scene for more than 40 years. The photo was taken by newspaper photographer John Goforth.
Chattanooga News-Free Press archive photo via ChattanoogaHistory.com / A 1948 photo of Effron's Department Store shows the busy establishment on Market Street that was part of the local retail scene for more than 40 years. The photo was taken by newspaper photographer John Goforth.

For more than 40 years, Effron's was one of downtown Chattanooga's leading department stores.

Opened by immigrants Abe and Lou Effron in 1920, the clothing store occupied several properties in the 600 block of Market Street before settling into 607 Market St. in 1937.

The accompanying photo, from the archives of the Chattanooga News-Free Press via ChattanoogaHistory.com, shows the store in 1948. The Chattanooga store, along with a sister property in Rossville, Georgia, were sold to the Raylass Department Store chain in 1965.

Originally called Southern Salvage Co., the store was first at the corner of 6th and Market streets, an address that would later become home to the Sears, Robuck & Co., according to news archives.

According to the Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities, "In 1920, Abe and Lou Effron opened a large clothing store that soon occupied a three-story building." Abe Effron emerged as president of the company.

The reference source noted that the early 20th century was a period when Jewish residents played a central role in Chattanooga's economic growth.

In the early 1920s, when the store opened, it sold tea kettles for 98 cents, men's overcoats for $7.50, women's dresses for $4.95 and alarm clocks for $1.19, according to a newspaper advertisement.

Over time, the store used various slogans, including "The Home of Low Prices" and "The Store that Values Built." It started as a cash-only establishment but later incorporated customer credit, which became popular in the 1950s.

In 1959, the company opened a "modern, new Effron's store at 317 Chickamauga Ave. in Rossville, Georgia," according to the News-Free Press. The store was in a shopping center with a Red Food Store supermarket at the corner of Chickamauga Avenue and Spring Street. When it opened, the store was touted as "fully air-conditioned."

In 1964, company president Abe Effron said, "Customer satisfaction ... and the best values possible ... have always been the hallmarks of the Chattanooga owned-and-operated store."

In 1965, both Effron stores were sold to Frederick Raiff, who owned the Raylass Department Store chain, which had 30 stores throughout the South at the time.

The photo accompanying this article was taken by News-Free Press photographer John Goforth and appears as part of a collection of old newspaper photos at ChattanoogaHistory.com.

See previous articles in the series at ChattanoogaHistory.com and follow the "Remember When, Chattanooga?" public group on Facebook.


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