“Big M” When it was new….

© Jerry F. Couch

We recently posted a 1970 photo of the C. C. Tiller Department Store in St. Paul.  The Tiller building subsequently became Big M in the early 1970’s.  Today we’re going to board our magic carpet which will take us back in time for a peek inside Big M in its early years….

from Tillers to Big M 1971 a

In the photo above, the C. C. Tiller sign was still in place on the front of the building.  A new sign would soon be installed.  The original sketch for that sign is pictured blow.

Big M Discount Center signage 1971 a

The photo below shows the new sign looked after its installation.

NimoFilm_1937 Big M

From the beginning, Big M carried a large stock of shoes.  My family bought shoes there and your family probably did so as well.

1970s Big M Discount (16)1970s Big M Discount (13)

Clothing for every member of the family was sold at reasonable prices.  There was something for every taste and every purse.  On Saturdays, the store was filled with customers who were shopping for bargains.

Stewarts & Big M (1)1970s Big M Discount (9)1970s Big M Discount (8)

In the 1970’s many people still referred to Memorial Day as ‘Decoration Day.”  Families made a pilgrimage to the cemetery to refresh the flowers on the graves of their loved ones as tangible reminder that they “lived on” in memory.  Big M carried a stock of floral wreaths for that purpose throughout its years of operation.

Stewarts & Big M (2)

On the occasion of Big M’s 16th birthday, Fred and Jimmy Gay Meade held a celebration at the store.  Here are photos taken during the event.

NimoFilm_5116 BIG M - 16TH ANNIVERSARYNimoFilm_2366 BIG M EMPLOYEESNimoFilm_5288 BIG M - 16th AnniversaryNimoFilm_5286 BIG M - 16th Anniversary

Remember this:  It’s not the “big box” stores that kill small businesses – it’s the customers who abandon the small businesses in their community.

Big M was able to stay in business for years by changing with the times.  Not every business owner can do that, especially if they serve a limited or specialty market.  That’s one reason why we have seen such an alarming number of small businesses come and go in our area in recent years.

Be a friend to your local small business owners and they will be a friend to you.  They’re with us for the long haul.

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