Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v14n06)
Right in my Own Backyard - As the World Turns in the Village - by Brandt Carter
posted: Mar. 17, 2017
As the World Turns in the Village
It is not hard to see what is happening in Broad Ripple and feel the changing winds−new housing, another new bar, new restaurant, a new grocery store. The village is reflecting what is happening all over Indianapolis. Store fronts and buildings are transforming to welcome the next wave of businesses and entrepreneurs.
This causes me to think back. . . way back. . . and realize very few businesses are here to stay. Growing up in Broad Ripple offered very few bars but many retail shops and businesses needed for daily life. I look back and realize every business owner, small, large or chain, should relish their time. If you also grew up in Indianapolis you will remember the department stores, now almost an endangered business. We have Macy's, Penney's and Sears. But do you recall the leader L.S. Ayres (Glendale) and meeting under the clock or lunching in the Tea Room downtown. We also had choices: H.P Wasson and Company, Wm H. Block, Co. (724 Broad Ripple Avenue and later Glendale) and L.Strauss and Company (Glendale - which for many years was for men only). They served the shoppers needs from dining, fine dressing, and bargain basement sales. From adults to children, housewares, notions, shoes, linens, furniture, most acquiring of our stuff in the 40s, 50s, and earlier 60s were from these monster department stores.
We also had the fun shopping experience of the Five-and-Dimes. Although drugstores today have replaced some of the Five-and-Dimes offerings, the early stores were a cornucopia of merchandise. Do you remember Danner's (Carrollton and Broad Ripple Avenue), S.S. Kresge's, Woolworth's, G. C. Murphy's (corner of College and Broad Ripple Avenue). Most every child growing up could not wait until they had the privilege to ride his or her bike to the dime store. Some even had soda fountain counters that could wrangle a nickel or quarter from the tightest customer−just one phosphate, soda, or sundae.
This photo from the 1950s, with the post office southeast, shows Danner Brothers five and dime store on Broad Ripple Avenue at Carrollton Avenue. This location later became Curley's One Hour Cleaners and is now the Broad Ripple Tavern.
image courtesy of Vernon Earle collection
There were many specialty stores that have long since closed. High-end stores like the Claypool Dress Shop, Abigail's (Guilford and Broad Ripple Avenue), Stenzdale (6200 block of Carrollton), Roderick St. John (Glendale) often disappeared as their owners aged. Early discount stores like Jubilee City (53rd and Keystone), Zayre, Govco and Ayrway (L.S. Ayres' discount store) have disappeared, but are the forerunners of the big box stores. Shopping Centers (first Lafayette Square and Glendale, later Castleton and Greenwood Malls) are having to reinvent themselves.
The lesson from all this is that the world does not stand still. Retail is ever changing. What we enjoy today will be replaced by something new. Somehow the small retailer is still here, but in fewer numbers. These are the entrepreneurs that dream. My hope for the village is that we don't lose the retail-mix of our businesses. I hope that bars and restaurants leave room for some shops that will entice the visitors in the village to stay, meander, and shop.