Morning Star, April 13, 2007, pg. 10
When you think about the prominent clothing stores in Albion many years ago, you may think of Seelyes, Vaughn’s, and Youngs. There was once another clothing store that operated here with an unusual twist. It advertised “Clothes on Credit” and discounted clothing. Called the Union Store, it came to Albion in 1940 as a branch of the Jackson store owned by Mr. Stieverman. It was located at 107 W. Porter St., in the former shoe repair shop of Mike Martinoff. A name like “Union Store” certainly would have been popular considering Albion’s industrial labor-intensive market at the time.
The Union Store sold clothes for the entire family, and also carried some jewelry. In the summer of 1943 during World War II it moved to 117 S. Superior St., in the site presently occupied by the “Sweet Tooth.” Manager of the store was Francis Ed Roby (1899-1979), who with his family lived above upstairs. His daughter Patricia (Roby) Phelps recalls how she and her sister embarrassingly wheeled the naked manikins on racks down Porter and Superior Sts. into the new location in 1943.
After Roby left in 1946, William F. Costello became manager of this store. It was during his tenure that the Union Store issued “Lucky Pennies,” which consisted of a 1948 cent encased in a horseshoe-shaped aluminum holder. One side stated, “Union Store. Family Credit Clothiers.” The other side had a horseshoe design and stated, “Keep Me and Never Go Broke. Good Luck.” Does anyone have one of these?
During the early 1950s John Sussell of Jackson served as manager. In the late 1950s and into the early 1960s, W. H. Van Pelt, also of Jackson, was the manager and vice-president of the firm. If you want to see what the storefront looked like during this period, turn to page 97 of my latest book “Growing Up in Albion.” Pictured is the 1956 Albion High School homecoming parade, with the Union Store in the background, wedged between Miller Jewelers and the Albion Paint Spot. The final listing of the Union Store in the city directory is 1962.
From our Historical Notebook this week courtesy of Patricia Phelps is a photo of the 107 W. Porter St. location during the winter of 1942-43. The sign states, “Union Store, Clothes on Credit.” That’s the Roby’s Hudson automobile parked out front. Next door to the right is the tavern and lunchroom of Joseph Willatt. How many of our readers remember the Union Store? Special thanks to Patricia Phelps for information and the photograph for this week’s article. Did your family own a store in Albion I haven’t written about? Let me know, along with a photograph.
The Union Store, 107 W. Porter Street
All text copyright, 2018 © all rights reserved Frank Passic