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Blast From The Past: Colonial, Big Stars, and Dime Stores Rome Street Shopping Center

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The era was the early 1960s, Carrollton, Georgia was beginning to grow, as a new road, now called “South Park Street” was being built, and at the time was called “The Four Lane” or “The First Bypass”, which would become U.S. 27 by the mid 1960s, when it was completed. In the meantime, Dixie Street was U.S. 27, and once you reached Newnan Street, you turned left to Adamson Square, and then a right onto Rome Street, as this was the early 1960s for Carrollton, before Four Lane Roads, and Bypasses.In the Early 1960s, Carrollton had three major Grocery chains already, with Kroger on Alabama Street, in the present Classy Cricket. A&P was at Newnan and White Street, where Wash Bowl presently resides, and another chain, Colonial Stores, founded in 1901 and based out of Norfolk Virginia, and a major player in the Grocery Business at this time, was located in the Arcade on the Horton’s Side of Adamson Square. In the early 1960s, Colonial opened a shiny new store at the corner of Rome Street, and Ward St. The store wasn’t large, but at the time, the newest grocery store in Carrollton.

Originally a stand alone, soon McCrory’s, a national chain of dime/variety stores, Ringer Sewing Goods, and Sears would soon open to the right of Colonial, and at some point between the 1960s-Early 1970s, Colonial would become “Big Star”, which was the name commonly used by this time and place.

There was never really a name for this strip center, therefore the simple name “Rome Street Shopping Center” fits, and of note, this was also Carrollton Georgia’s very first strip center, and was an immediate hit with people. McCrory’s was a store popular with all ages, as kids loves toys, and back in the day, stores like McCrory’s, and TG&Y, were very popular with the young people and needless to say, Rome Street Plaza was just what the doctor ordered for Carrollton.Throughout the 1970s, and 1980s, Rome Street Shopping Center was consistent and there was a very low number of turnovers, with the exception of Singer closing at some point between the 70s, and early 1980s, and Sears took over the space. The Sears was also very popular, as it was the place everyone went when Christmas came around, and the legendary “Wish Book” was published and people would place orders for an array of items at our Sears, and was also a popular stop for Electronics and Appliances. As the

1970s and 1980s brought much growth to Carrollton, Rome Street Shopping Center remained consistent, and Colonial/Big Star received one renovation, besides the expansion, and by the late 1980s, the winds of change began to take effect, as McCrory’s bought out another popular Dime/Variety Store, TG&Y, which was located at First Tuesday Mall, in 1986, and although both names remained for a short time, by the end of the 1980s, McCrory changed the name of their stores at both Rome Street, and First Tuesday Mall, which was downsized between 1986 and 1987, as McCrory did this to many TG&Y locations, to a new name, Bargain Time.

Bargain Time was the end of the McCrory era in Carrollton, as well as the end of the Dime Store in Carrollton, as they closed in the early 1990s. McCrory’s as a chain officially closed in 2001. In the 1990s, McCrory’s was gone, and a void was left between Big Star, and Sears. In the early 1990s, Big Star closed their location at Rome Street Shopping Center, although they would remain in Metro Atlanta until the end of the 20th Century. The Big Star was immediately filled by a low price Grocery Store, from Alabama called Food Outlet, which was similar to Food Depot. It was a huge hit with people and the former McCrory’s/Bargain Time found a new tenant, Advantage Office Products, which relocated from their previous location on College Street, next to First Christian Church. In 1993, Sears discontinued the very popular “Wish Book”, and many Sears similar to our Sears, such as Newnan’s Sears, closed.

By this time, Sears was the last original tenant of Rome Street Shopping Center, and Food Outlet did a ton of business, and Rome Street Shopping Center stayed competitive. Advantage Office Products closed around the late 1990s and was replaced by Dollar General, and it remained in the space until 2007. Although Dollar General resided in the former Advantage Office Products, a shade of yesterday showed through behind the sign, as the McCrory’s labelscar remained, along with some other interesting things inside the store.

As the 21st Century began, it also marked another wind of change for Rome Street Shopping Center. In the Early 2000s, Sears, the last original tenant, moved into the former lobby of the Ramada Inn on South Park Street, and between 2004-2007, Food Outlet closed it’s doors also, likely due to Food Depot arriving in 2003, in the former Winn Dixie at First Tuesday Mall. Dollar General was the last man standing before it too closed in 2007, which called for a major overhaul. And an overhaul was what happened at Rome Street Shopping Center.

After 2007, Rome Street Shopping Center was incorporated as part of Downtown Carrollton, and the parking lot was re-done, and it began a revival, as the Carrollton Corrections Dept filled part of the former Sears, and many local stores filled in the spaces, as Rome Street Shopping Center received a nice renovation on the exterior, yet it’s past could easily be seen throughout. Many local places have occupied the shopping center since 2007, such as Sunnyside Cafe, My Other Closet, McGee’s Bakery, Farmer’s Cupboard, and Haystack Finds all found a home in the Rome Street Shopping Center, although McGee’s has moved over to Maple Street, and Sunnyside Cafe closed a few years ago, and Farmer’s Cupboard also closed its doors awhile ago.

Rome Street Shopping Center has been a survivor for many years, and it’s historic in the books of Carrollton Retail, as the First Strip Mall for Carrollton, and although these days local tenants fill the spaces, you can easily see the past echo, through the windows of the former Farmer’s Cupboard and currently the closed Haystack Finds, and notice the remains of Colonial/Big Star/Food Outlet, and through the shopping center. Rome Street Shopping Center has a fond place in many people’s hearts who have lived in the area for many many years, and although it’s encountered bumps along it’s road, I firmly believe Rome Street Shopping Center, can be called “The Little Strip Center that can.”

As of April 10, 2015 new life has sparked! Sutton’s American Grill recently opened along with Walker’s Outdoors and LifeGate Church Downtown will soon open. Things are looking brighter!

Photo courtesy :University of West Georgia, Ingram Library, Special Collections,
Benjamin M. Long collection, LH-0010
Box 1, Folder 204
Item description: Photograph of 401 Rome Street

Story by :

Carrollton Resident Grady Ellis (Non Edited Form)

Original Posting Sept 13, 2013

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Entrepreneur and community leader, Jonathan is the founder of The City Menus. Through his business he embraces his passion for community and small businesses. In his spare time he travels the country finding breathtaking landscapes, unique city murals, and tons of great food. Each of his travels bring him inspiration for another adventure.