Paralleling the development of Texas industries is the growth of E. M. Scarbrough & Sons. Back in 1884 when Texas industries were young, a small store was opened in Rockdale. It was Scarbrough & Hicks which later was to open a larger store in Austin and still later was to become known as Scarbrough's. Today as Texas industries have become strong, so has E. M. Scarbrough & Sons taken its place in the sun.
It was Jan. 30, 1893 that Austin and its trade territory was given one of the largest department stores in the state. Scarbrough & Hicks was then located in the old Kreisle building and had already built its reputation with its Rockdale store.
In September, 1894, the firm moved to its present location. It had taken its place as the fifth largest department store in the state, and the old location was not adequate. Mr. Scarbrough had secured a long-time lease on the building next to the corner at Congress and Sixth and for two months work had been under way to make the store modern.
Much trade had come to the store from the surrounding territory -- trade that before had gone to San Antonio and even smaller cities. But now the farmer could come to Austin's big store and get anything he wanted from dry goods to boots and clothing. There, too, he could get cash for his cotton. During the firm's first year in Austin, it paid over its counter in cash for over 2,000 bales of cotton.
In the new store were 12 different departments with 30 clerks to serve the customers. There were eight large show windows to give the store the most modern appearance possible. Each department was well equipped. The shoe department, for instance, was finished in curly pine with a large screen in the shape of a huge French plate mirror. Stock ranged from the most expensive dress shoes to the ordinary goods worn by the country trade. The newspaper account stated, "It is a great store and its magnitude can only be realized after you have gone through each department."
Forward Step Taken
Another major step in the progress of the store was in 1910 when Mr. Scarbrough bought the corner location in which Chiles' drug store had been located. Then was erected the Scarbrough building -- the first skyscraper in Austin. The new building was an office building and the store was also expanded. In 1915 the downstairs store was added.
In 1913 the name of the store was changed from Scarbrough & Hicks to E. M. Scarbrough & Sons. Mr. Hicks had died in 1912 and Mr. Scarbrough bought out his interest in the Austin store.
In 1931 the store was completely remodeled. A new floor was added. It was mid-September of that year that J. W. and Lemuel Scarbrough opened the large black granite doorways of the modern department store to Austin and Central Texas.
The progress of the store came as a recognition of the advances made by this section of the country during the 40 years of the firm's existence in Austin. Modern design motif was carried out in the decoration and architecture of the store.
The fountain room serving drinks and lunches was created in the downstairs store. There, too, was a department of men's clothing and shoes. The photographic studio was established and nearly all departments of the store were enlarged and re-located. Possibly the most attractive changes were made in the women's ready-to-wear section, which was given a character and appearance all its own. Some followed the modernistic trend, others became typically feminine.
Especially appealing to the customers and employees alike was the face that the store was provided with "manufactured weather." This meant that the proper amount of humidity was put in the air and the temperature controlled to a comfortable temperature constantly.
Since that major step in progression, the store has continuously kept pace with the times. Gradual changes have been made from time to time to keep each department up-to-date in every way. Interior decoration is changed frequently to make the building fresh and inviting. Recently the fountain room was made into the Cape Cod Grill, one of the most attractive eating places in town, with walls of pine, a large fireplace and fascinating objects of old Cape Cod homes.
When Scarbrough opened its doors 46 years ago, Austin had a population of 19,000 and the University of Texas had 328 students. Now the store has 58 departments and over 300 employees. Austin has a population of over 80,000 and the University has over 10,000 students.
Scarbrough's has grown with Texas and her industries. It has progressed as the state has progressed. It is a store "Made in Texas."