Editor’s Note: This is the 388th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON — The Great Depression changed the lives of many people. One of those was Simon Mazo. As a young man, Mazo wanted to be a lawyer but instead had to go to work to help his family. After high school, he went to work at the Huntington Dry Goods Co. (later renamed the Huntington Store) and spent four years there learning the basics of retailing.
In 1922, Simon’s oldest sister, Gertrude, and her husband, Paul Kirsh, had opened a tiny women’s clothing store, The Smart Shop, at 804 4th Ave. In 1935, Mazo joined the store.
When the 1937 flood wiped out a variety store on 4th Avenue at 9th Street, it provided the Smart Shop an opportunity to move to a bigger location. In the late 1940s, Mazo became a partner in the store. The Smart Shop kept expanding and in 1951 added an entrance on 9th Street. After Paul Kirsh died, Mazo bought full ownership of the store.
“In staying at the store I’ve been fortunate because I’ve loved the business,” Mazo said in a 1973 interview with the Sunday Herald-Advertiser.
When the Kirshes opened their original store, they had one employee. She sold merchandise, did alterations and helped with the books. By the late 1950s, the Smart Shop had 40 employees on the payroll.
The building that housed the Smart Shop once housed several other businesses, including Lawrence Drugs, Metheny Shoe Repair, Seaboard Loans, Barta Photography and the Hobby Sport Shop.
In 1975, the Smart Shop leased the entire building and expanded into the spaces previously occupied by Lawrence Drugs and Metheny Shoe Repair, using the additional square footage to open a new young women’s shop. For a number of years, the store operated a Teen Fashion Board in conjunction with Seventeen magazine.
The Smart Shop closed in 1986.