The End of an Era

The story of Beer’s Ladieswear which began all the way back in the 1920s came to an end on Friday, Aug. 5

Shut down: A man walks past the recently closed Beers Ladies Wear store on Lakeshore Drive on Monday

Shut down: A man walks past the recently closed Beers Ladies Wear store on Lakeshore Drive on Monday

The story of Beer’s Ladieswear which began all the way back in the 1920s came to an end on Friday, Aug. 5.

Melanie Howard, the store’s current owner, made the decision to close the store, citing difficulties with the economy and her desire to spend more time with her kids as the reasons behind the closure. Howard said her attempts to sell the business so it could be kept open were unsuccessful.

C.R. Beer, the original owner, opened his store, then known as The Quality Store, across from the Montebello Hotel on Alexander Street in 1921. The store offered hat and dressmaking services.

The original store was located in the building that now houses the Shuswap Pie Company.

The Beer family business expanded steadily throughout the first half of the 20th century.

Archival information from the Salmon Arm Museum at R.J. Haney indicates the Beer’s store expanded in 1927 and 1931, then again in 1937. The Beer family also opened clothing stores in Armstrong and Princeton in the late 1920s and early ‘30s.

Joyce Cummings, a long time Salmon Arm resident, worked in the store’s original location beginning in 1944.

Cummings was a teenager working part-time when she began working at the store; she continued working until 1948. After leaving her position, Cummings also helped organize the store’s fashion shows, which were held at the Jackson school auditorium and the Salmar Theatre into the 1950s.

Cummings described the store as a great place to work and the clothing sold there as very upscale.

“You never ever saw someone walking down the street with the same dress as you had, it was always just one of a line that we brought in,” she said

All of the clothes that Beer’s carried when Cummings worked there were Canadian made, mostly from Vancouver and Montreal.

“I just loved my job, I liked it the most out of all the jobs I ever had. We would buy especially for our clients, we knew all the people who shopped there, that’s what I really liked about my job,” Cummings said.

Along with the success stories in the archives with Beer’s store was the centre of drama played out in the pages of The Salmon Arm Observer; the store was robbed in 1931 and again in 1935.

Howard and her family made their own additions to the store’s history at its new location on Lakeshore Drive. She recounted stories of her children playing in the back of the store.

Howard said she will miss running the store, particularly the fun she had serving regular customers.