Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit

Mermaids and Webb's Wonderful World of Retail


At one time, Doc Webb's store in Florida had 1,400 employees. The retail mega-mall miracle had miles of merchandise and at least a few mermaids. Way ahead of his time, Doc opened the store in 1925 and it spread like kudzu. By 1951 it was bigger than a Wal-mart, but he had tricks they haven't even thought of. He would sell dollar bills for 95 cents and serve breakfast for 2 cents to attract customers. The shop grew to 85,000 square feet. The soda fountain was so long it had 60 employees. He sold 16,000 packs of cigs a day and 60,000 rolls of film a year. He invented the express check-out line (ten items or less) and eventually had 70 different stores on the lot. Doc even supported African-American civil rights before most of his neighbors and fought against high taxes...but all things must end and Webb's went belly-up like a dead mermaid in 1979.

Webb's Talking Mermaid Show Postcard, circa 1940. Note on reverse: "Hi Bud. Saw the mermaids today at Webb's City. They really talk" Collection Jim Linderman

5 comments:

  1. Cute merbaby and some interesting marketing tips. Wishing you the best in 2010. The blog looks fabulous, Jim!

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  2. Fascinating information. Love your blog!

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  3. Thanks for following and the comments.

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  4. I have a postcard from that store, but I didn't realize it was so large.

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  5. I remember going there as a kid (born in 1951) when we came down from Buffalo & Rochester, NY to visit my grandparents in St.Pete. They used to buy me promo 45s 10/$1 and send them up at Christmas. I thought I remembered it as DEL Webb's. I Do remember the large 'dump' tables filled with cheap merchandise (lotsa tourist items like stuffed pufferfish and seashells in a bag) and I had the same comparison to Wal-Mart's when I thought of it recently. Thanks for confirming the memory of the establishment and filling in on it's history.
    Duncanmusic

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