Businesses Past: Barnes Mercantile & Drug Co., Mansfield

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If Doctor’s GG or Merle Woods in Huntington didn’t have the drug prescribed on hand, it meant that we were taking a short trip to Mansfield.  Getting to go to Barnes Drug Store was a fun trip, even if you were sick.

The step up to the door that opened to a small dead-air space was the first adventure for inside that space was a tall porcelain scale.  For a penny, you could find out how much you weighed and since we didn’t have scales at home, it was almost like a ride at an amusement park to me.

Doors opened to the huge room, filled with just about everything a person could want. To the left were pharmacy items, surrounding a raised platform where Scevoy Barnes filled each prescription.  On an old manual typewriter, Scevoy would type the directions on the labels, pecking with the index fingers of both hands.  He’d put the pills in a small white matchbox-like box and place the label on it before giving instructions on how to take them, even though you could read.  We hoped he’d take his time so we could look around the store.

Barnes Mercantile and Drug Store served pretty much anything a person needed in his years of business.  You could buy groceries, material, clothing and all sorts of colognes, makeup and perfume.  It was the perfect place to get a Christmas present for your mom! The ladies were very helpful that worked behind those counters but I remember one who had a short temper to a certain young man who couldn’t decide how to spend a quarter one day!

A staircase stood in the center of the store leading to an upper-level balcony where, at one time, held ladies and children’s clothing and shoes.  I remember looking off of the railing at the store below and feeling like I was on a tall cliff surveying the valley below.

We would also get fresh meat from the butcher shop that was on the right side of the staircase toward the back door.  The back door was used to enter too since parking in the front wasn’t always possible.  Mom used to tell me about getting flour from the store and using the sacks to make clothing for us.  I remember sacks near the backdoor but not sure what they were today!

The store started as Lowery and Pennington, a general store and dry goods store on Main Street in 1930.  In 1936, E. L. Barnes bought out Mr. Lowery.  It wasn’t long until Scevoy Barnes, now a pharmacist returned to Mansfield and bought Mr. Elzie Pennington’s interests and the name became Barnes and Son.  Another son, R. B. Barnes returned home from California in 1938 and the name changed again to Barnes Mercantile Co.

Many people worked at Barnes Store through the years.  Young boys served as delivery men and clerk’s afternoon after school as did young girls behind the counters.  E. L. and his wife Mollie, Scevoy and his wife Carol, R.B and Lorene all worked in the store through the years.  John and Jack Robinson served as butchers.  Other workers listed in the research included Viola Long, Pauline Lantrip, Dora Selph, Opal Terrell, Nowasa Whittaker, Esca Wade, Velma Wallace, Billy Jo Thomas, and Sybil Richmond.

In 1976, Scevoy retired and sold the store to Don and Linda Baggett of Rogers, Arkansas.  The original wood structure burned in October of 1979 as almost all of South Sebastian’s citizens watched broken hearted.  But, through the tenacity of the Baggett’s and with many local citizens coming to their aid, Don Baggett was open for business the following day in a nearby building.  A brand new, one-story, steel-framed modern drug store was built on the same lot and space where Barnes Mercantile and Drug Company had stood so many years before.

Photo from 1960.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (Some information used from A History of the Mansfield School District. Date unknown.)

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