Editorial Piece from local resident and contributor to The City Menus, Grady Ellis
Lately many of us, including people in the retail history field, have noticed with the impending end of Toys R Us and the slow demise of former longtime Carrollton mainstay Kmart the disappearance of American staples that once graced our nation. As a retail historian it’s challenging to me as well to see these changes; and there lies a question, what and who’ll fill their shoes? Look no further than your local small businesses. Although many retail chains are struggling or are on their last special, we’re going to spotlight some local businesses in Carrollton that have shined over the years and make Carrollton the unique gem it is.
We’ll start on Maple Street, and work towards the square. On Maple Street, it’s a hub of local businesses. Many of them have been staples in our area for a long time. Maple Street Diner, located next to the Chevron towards UWG, has ties to the former Young’s Drive In that was located across from Westover Square but burned in the late 1990s. Maple Street Diner is a favorite for many for breakfast and lunch in the neighborhood. Now let’s move up the road to Westover Square.
Westover Square has a wonderful array of local businesses, and many of those businesses have served the Carrollton area proudly for decades. The Squire Shop got its start on Adamson Square in 1963 and moved over the years. It continues to be the best place in town for men’s clothing and a place to go rent a tuxedo for proms or special events. It’s a Carrollton treasure, as well as being the lone men’s clothing store in town. They carry some lines for women also.
As I travel up the corridor, there’s Sweet Pea’s Boutique. Sweet Pea’s, an original tenant at Westover Square and has long been a hit with many in Carrollton and beyond. They carry Brighton, which can be exclusively found here along with many other accessories. They have a little something for everyone, selling lady’s clothing, shoes, and gifts, along with accessories. It’s a very popular place to shop with a wonderful staff and a charm you only find in Carrollton–which is one of the reasons both these two places thrive. There are other small businesses in the shopping center that are popular and others along Maple Street. New local businesses are appearing along the corridor with McEver’s moving to the area in the past year among many others like longtime Carrollton classic, McGee’s Bakery & Catering, another Carrollton mainstay that started at Adamson Square and is now on Longview Street, serving customers since 1938. Now let’s head downtown to the Square.
Now we’re downtown at historic Adamson Square. For the changes that have taken place over the past years to revitalize the square, there too remain some local businesses that hold history, and are also a wonderful alternative to going to the Big Box stores. Nothing like hometown service! And to show off a few places on the square, which is steadily growing with local businesses and eateries, we’ll start with what many people think of these days when thinking of Adamson Square: Horton’s Books and Gifts. Horton’s has been in operation since 1892, and proudly serves Carrollton as only bookstore in town where you can find a few cats roaming around. Nowadays along with books and gifts and a rich history as the oldest operating bookstore in Georgia, their cats are also very popular with customers, giving them a warm feeling when walking inside. Carrollton added a second bookstore to it’s ever growing Downtown in 2011, Underground Books!
Going around Adamson Square, there are so many local businesses that are doing wonderfully. Burson Feed and Seed has been a mainstay in downtown for 50-plus years and has a little of everything inside. It’s a throwback of sorts to the old days of downtown, when you’d find Western Auto and Carrollton Hardware, etc. The people that operate the store do a great job, and as mentioned, it’s a throwback to a simpler time and personally a favorite of mine in downtown.
Then we go over a street onto City Hall Avenue, and there’s Smith Brothers Supply Company. Started in 1962, Smith Brothers has long been a go-to place for folks needing anything from plumbing and electrical to appliances and anything one needs whether a contractor or one building a home. Wonderful hometown service can be found here, and it’s a great alternative to the home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. To many they are the first choice when it comes to home improvement, and like Bursons, a throwback to a simpler time, yet going strong.
The small businesses in our wonderful city still remain popular and inspire young entrepreneurs to open businesses of their own as well. Only in Carrollton can you find a Sweet Pea’s Boutique, Horton’s…the list grows. The list also keeps growing we’d like to think thanks to The City Menus, an outlet to help both established businesses and the ones getting off the ground find success. Although it’s gloomy presently in regards to retail chains, and in rapidly changing times, small business still thrives. The charm of Carrollton is that though it has grown, there are local businesses that are growing all the time in Carrollton (as the The City Menus’ shared here over time). Small business is thriving in our town. Another charm of Carrollton is that although it has grown, there are local businesses that are still going strong and remain popular with many in our area. How blessed we are here to have these businesses, and many other local businesses coming up as well. Carrollton is a great example of the success of small business.