Big Red Store in Appleton, TN
Known as the Big Red Store in Lawrence County, this place is said to be the first mall in America and where a Civil War battle was fought with General Nathan Bedford Forrest! It was the largest general store in the world, according to records, or at least the largest in the country. Today it is privately owned by a man who is a relative of the apothecary named at the top of the stairs in the doctor's corner. This two-story mall was home to the fanciest soda fountain in the south, several clothing makers, and a casket factory. The store opened in 1902 and closed in 1950 in the same condition it was left. However, in 2006 the Big Red Store was restored and fixed up to become a museum. Mr. Inman is a good man who opens the museum to the public during April through October on the third Saturday bluegrass nights from 6-8pm and every 4th of July and either the 1st or 2nd weekend in December with a Santa Claus for the kids. Below are photos of the outside and the Fourth of July celebration.
History of the Big Red Store
The house next door to the Big Red Store was started around the same time as the store. Originally this was the location of the post office from 1858 to 1949. The Big Red Store was opened in 1902 when the area was named Pinhook. It was built by Hall, Kelton, and Company, where over 500 people came to see this three-story building that even had a skylight! The store owners gave out free soda pop, which was rare then. The store had a milliner and tailor that could make the best clothes for any guy or girl! The area was famous for making the best cotton from the local gins. These fabrics and raw materials would move down the highway of that time, the Pulaski Florence Turnpike. In Alabama, these textiles would become clothing. Billy Reid is a famous clothing maker of this area today as he still designs many of his clothing styles in the southern style he grew up with. Inside the store, you can see historical memorabilia items like those in the photos below!
The Closing and Spreading of the Markets Inside
Once the car was invented, the Muscle Shoals area was to produce the new Ford automobile that attracted a lot of attention to the area. The newly built TVA dams provided power to houses without electricity, and new sections of the state were raising their influence over the older parts. This new industrialization took farmers and turned them into factory workers, so places like Appleton started losing residents. Eventually, the Big Red Store closed in 1950. However, you can still see cotton growing in the fields, casket factories in Loretto, textile companies in Alabama, and other places where they still make quality items. In Lawrence County alone, they have had sewing factories in the past and still have a few in the present! It seems that the Big Red Store didn't close but that it leaked out into the local population. Today you can see all this history when you walk around the store during its twice-per-year opening. Follow the Big Red Store on Facebook in the links below!
Please enter your address into your GPS of choice and find your way to the Big Red Store for their Fourth of July celebration and the first or second weekend of December Christmas celebration. Each event has a cannon to shoot every hour! Click the links below to see their social media pages to ask questions or see similar museums in the area!
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