BIRMINGHAM – The R. W. Harris Store, a general merchandise store in downtown Winfield that employs six, was honored today by the Alabama Retail Association (ARA) as an Alabama Centennial Retailer, a retailer with 100 or more years in business in Alabama.
“For businesses to survive despite the dramatic changes of the past century is a remarkable achievement,” said ARA President Rick Brown. “It is fitting to celebrate the enduring contributions R.W. Harris Store has made to the city of Winfield.”
The R.W. Harris Store was honored at the 2011 Retail Day Luncheon at The Club in Birmingham. The business received a bronze plaque to place outside of the store and a certificate suitable for display inside.
The R.C. Robertson family founded this store in 1885. They built R.C. Robertson and Co. as a wooden structure in downtown Winfield even before railroad transportation came to Marion County. In 1911, the original wooden building was placed onto logs and rolled away, making room for the construction of a new brick structure that continues to serve as the current home for R.W. Harris Store. A warehouse across the street was built to serve the store using the wood and other materials from the 1885 building.
After working for the Robertson family for 20 years, Raymond Harris Sr. purchased the store in 1921, turning it into a thriving business featuring hand-made women’s hats among its many other wares. The business continued to serve Marion, Fayette and Walker counties under the ownership of the Harris family for more than eight decades. Raymond Harris Jr. assumed control in 1936, and the store became R.W. Harris and Son. In 1975, Raymond Harris III took over operations of the business until the store was purchased by its current owner, Boyd Pate. The store’s name changed to R.W. Harris Store in 2005.
With more than 100 years of retail history, the R.W. Harris Store features its original 1911 copper-framed windows, a 1918 cash register, two 19th century mahogany display cases and a pot-belly stove. The store’s warehouse across the street features many late 19th and early 20th century items, most notably a safe that was stolen from the original Harris building but recovered prior to the construction of the new store in 1911. The safe was one of the old items used to build the warehouse. It became the warehouse cornerstone.
Tracey Estes of the Journal Record nominated the R. W. Harris Store as a Centennial Retailer.
The Alabama Retail Association presents awards annually to Centennial Retailers. To notify ARA of a retail business that has been in operation for 100 years or more, please contact Nancy Dennis at (800) 239-5423 or firstname.lastname@example.org.