The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - 130

Leggett's Department Store

L
Jenny
Kincaid Boone

is a Roanoke-based
freelance writer and
former business
journalist. She is a
Roanoke College
and Northwestern
University graduate
who is passionate
about exercise and
chai latte.
130

MAY/JUNE 2019

O N G B E F O R E B I G M A L L S , super
Walmarts, and online shopping, downtowns
were considered retail meccas.
Not only in Roanoke, but nationally, large retail
chains and small boutiques primarily took spaces among
bustling downtown districts in the 1950s and 1960s.
Take Petula Clark's 1964 international hit, "Downtown,"
with the lyrics "the lights are much brighter there. You
can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares, so go
downtown."
In Roanoke, Leggett's department store, pictured
here on Campbell Avenue in 1960, was one of several
department stores with a downtown presence. Others
included Heironimus, Miller & Rhoads and N.W.
Pugh's Department Store.
But as large enclosed malls began sprouting up
nationwide, following the sprawling suburbs, many
downtowns lost their distinctions as primary shopping
destinations. In the Roanoke Valley, Tanglewood Mall

opened in 1973, and 12 years later came Valley View
Mall.
Leggett's went on to open stores throughout the
Roanoke area - at Valley View and Tanglewood malls as
well as at the Roanoke Salem Plaza on Melrose Avenue
- along with its downtown location.
In 1996, North Carolina-based Belk bought the familyowned Leggett Stores, based in South Boston, Virginia.
Belk has stores at both Tanglewood and Valley View malls,
two of the chain's approximately 292 stores nationwide.
Now, the former Leggett's space in downtown
Roanoke does not have a distinct identity. The site seems
to spill into a neighboring arts center, called Aurora
Studio Center, and a hair salon, Salon at 110.
To be sure, retail is alive and well today in parts
of downtown Roanoke, but the scene is comprised
of locally-owned boutiques and food shops, mostly
centered around the city's farmers market and Roanoke
City Market Building. I
TheRoanoker.com

JULIANNE RAINONE / ARCHIVAL IMAGE COURTESY OF THE VIRGINIA ROOM, ROANOKE PUBLIC LIBRARIES

Department stores had a huge downtown presence in the 1950s and 1960s, but over
the years, many left downtown for suburban malls.


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The Roanoker - May/June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - May/June 2019

The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Intro
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Cover1
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Cover2
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - 3
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - 4
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - 5
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The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Cover3
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Cover4
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