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 Grayson County TXGenWeb
Barrett's Drug Store
The Denison Press
Friday, April 29, 1960
pg. 1


Announcement was made here Wednesday of the transfer of all grocery building holdings of the Barrett Grocery, Jack Barrett, owner, to the Piggly Wiggly Corporation of Jacksonville, Fla., of which W.R. Lovett is owner and board chairman.

The monetary consideration ran into figures said to be above the million dollar level.  Barrett retains the real estate.

Involved in the sale are two stores in Denison, two stores and a third one under construction at Sherman, and one each at Greenville , Paris, Hugo, and Durant.

Barrett announced that personnel and operation under the new management would continue unchanged, including C.C. Dobson as president, C.J. Walker, store supervisor, and Mrs. Gladys Singleton, office manager, all of Denison.

The deal includes a lease on the Barrett firm's new remodeled quarters in the Barrett building here, from which the new firm, probably to be named the Texoma Piggly Wiggly Co., will be operated.

The basement of the Main Street buildings will be transformed into a super self-service drug store, it is announced.  Quarters for the Barrett real estate business will be held in the building at 651 Main.  Also the real estate section of the Barrett company will have quarters on the first floor.


Almost all of the basement area, formerly cut up in compartments, dressing rooms, rest rooms and the once community-prided YMCA swimming pool, will be completely remodeled into the drug store.  

The store, which Barrett expects to open this fall, will handle a wide variety of merchandies, "enough to make it a small department store," Barrett explained.

All of the building's air conditioning equipment now spread over a large basement area will be concentrated in a special space near the northeast corner.

The tile swimming pool will be floored over to become part of the drug store, with the yawning opening left as a storage space.

by Natalie Bauman

Denison Herald
Dateline 1982
Denison, TX

Barrett Cut Rate Drug Store, lower level, cosmetic counter

"Cosmetic Department - Mary Ford, Natalie Clountz and Lucy Meade are experts in the field of cosmetics and invite you to visit their huge cosmetic and beauty aids department."  Experts indeed!

The people in the picture did not know what was going to be said in the ad when they posed for the article, especially the one in the middle which you may have guessed was the author).  Mary was the supervisor of the department, and Lucy had worked there for a long time, so you could say they were experts, but I was not!  Growing up with elderly parents born at the turn of the century, I had received no instruction on the finer points of makeup.  I had never worn any myself until I was 19 when I started selling Avon door to door and started experimenting.  Then, when I was 21, I got thrown into the deep end, so to speak, and overnight became an expert in the field of cosmetics.

The Barrett building was originally constructed in the 30's and used as a YMCA for years. Flemming Foods then used the building for several years. Later, Mr. Barrett, the building's namesake, purchased and renovated the building for his business office and to allow expansion of his department store.

The original Barrett Building was multi-storied.  On the top floor was the Barrett residence.  Below that were a few stories of offices that housed the Barrett's business office and break room or were leased to others like lawyers and accountants.  The health and beauty department was located in the basement of the original old Barrett building on the extreme west end of the store.  This department included the cosmetics and perfume counters on the west wall, and the pharmacy was next to it on the west wall.  The shelves on this floor held over-the-counter drugs, health and beauty products like band aids, aspirin, hair color, shampoo, deodorant, hand lotion, etc.  At the front, were checkout stands where they sold cigarettes.  Across from the pharmacy, was a hall that led to access to the old swimming pool that had once been in the building.  The floor of the health and beauty department was actually built over the swimming pool.

At some point, Barrett's expanded and bought store buildings next to it on the east. These became the camera dept, sporting goods department, making Barrett's a very large store.  Each of these old stores had upper stories and attics where some of our stock was warehoused and accessed by old freight elevators.

The  cosmetic department, and the pharmacy next to it, were located in the first and oldest section of the building.  The original entrance to it was not exactly wheelchair friendly, there were several steep steps down from the sidewalk to enter the building which was a converted basement with no windows.  There was an elevator from this level which would go to all the floors above where the offices and employee break room were.  Mrs. Barrett's apartment was on the top level of the building.

Also on this floor, was a hall which contained our time clock, but also had another set of rickety wooden stairs leading down to the old swimming pool.  This was our stock room.  That's right!  We had old makeshift wooden shelves shabbily constructed to hold all our health and beauty products, except very large boxed items like hair spray, which were accessed by riding the ancient freight elevator (which chronically needed WD40 and was reincarnated from an old donkey because it frequently balked)  to a spooky loft at the top recesses of the store next door.  We didn't really encourage the sales of that cheap hair spray to customers for some unknown reason.

But we did each have responsibility to keep certain shelves well stocked, so that meant daily trips to the swimming pool area, and I don't know how to swim!  But it was usually in the shallow end where my items were located, so that was a relief, but the hard thing was dragging all those heavy items up those stairs.   We REALLY hated it around Christmas when we had to start getting products out of the DEEP end of the pool!  In the middle of the pool, there was a HUGE  I-beam going all the way across the pool to support the floor above it.  There was not much clearance underneath it to get to the deep end, (me being the shortest, I was usually elected for that duty), so we had to get down and crawl  under it, get the items, push them under it and crawl back out, then haul them up the stairs out of the pool, A LOT!   Six days a week, getting minimum wage pay.  

Then we had to arrange the displays, help customers pick out presents for their family, do makeovers, demonstrate the products, sell them, check the customers out, walk the isles and watch for shoplifters, restock the shelves, clean the shelves, converse with all the lonely elderly customers who came in to talk to us, help the people waiting for their prescription at the nearby pharmacy kill time, and be the most well stocked,  friendliest store in town!  We were known for our friendly service and people would say "If you want something, Barretts will have it, or they can get it", and it was true!

We probably had that reputation with the salesmen too.  They knew we carried a WIDE variety of things in stock, and that we were all very friendly.  So we had a lot of salesmen come by the store and try to convince us to carry their products.  Salesmen as a breed are interesting characters.  There was one that I will never forget, and he may never forget me either!  This one salesman was demonstrating a new liquid foundation makeup on my face, flirting and complementing me on how soft my skin was.  Now I was VERY shy.  In the middle of the makeup demonstration, he suddenly kissed me right on the lips!  I was so shocked, I turned white despite the newly applied makeup and passed out.  Equally shocked, the floor manager James Lively quickly reacted and caught me, and as I woke up, I began to throw up as well!  So here was the floor manager holding me up and the cosmetics supervisor Mary Ford holding a trash can in front of me and the salesman still standing there in unbelief!  The staff at Barretts is friendly, but not THAT friendly!  After I came to my senses, I hid in the back until he left the store.

We sold a lot of Tabu cologne; those of us behind the counter hated this product.  When someone sprayed it, it lingered in the air.  If one of us was not there for the unsavory release of "fragrance",  we knew as soon as we got back to Cosmetics.  We would say, "Who sprayed the Tabu?  You didn't recommend that to anyone, did you!"  Our favorite was Enjoli and Sand and Sable.

Keeping prices low at Barrett Cut Rate was important to a discount store and shoplifting drives prices up.   Shoplifting was always a problem.

 We needed to call a manager to the department if we saw someone stealing so he or she could catch them as they went out the door with the stolen goods, but how could we alert the manager without alerting the suspects?  If they knew we were on to them, they would just ditch the item before they left the store and we couldn't prove anything.  One of the managers came up with a great idea.  All you had to do was say something others wouldn't understand but we all knew, so they picked the phrase "Calling Mac McGee to -- Dept"  on the intercom, seemed silly to us, it sounded like we were calling Mr. Magoo and how was a blind guy going to help?  Of course, we had a long dry spell with no shop lifting and no calls for Mac McGee, so the managers were getting primed for action.   

Well, the big day arrived - we had a real live shoplifter!  We called "Mac McGee" and managers you hadn't seen in weeks all appeared out of the woodwork running for the indicated department, rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, heads swiveling as they ran, trying to be the first to nab the culprit.  Subtlety not being their strong suit, they had no chance of catching them in the act, but they at least might frighten the shoplifters out of the store by the fear of being trampled by the sudden stampede from all directions.  The only person they caught like this that I recall was a lady in her 80s who couldn't get away fast enough.  Let me tell you, it took TWO Denison police to subdue the four foot-ten octogenarian and haul her away for the four D batteries that she stole.  We did look forward to hearing Mac McGee just to see the stampede!

Denison's finest also performed admirably on another occasion by NOT arresting someone who walked out of Barretts with a bag full of money.  After closing time at nine pm, each cashier would run a tape of total sales on their cash register and put all their money and checks in a locking bank bag with the tape and take it up to the front to give to the manager before leaving.  He would take all these to a safe in the office or to the bank and put them in the night deposit.  A Denison policeman was always parked outside the store at closing time to escort him to make sure no one wanted to make an early withdrawal.  I happened to be parked directly behind the police car. 

One evening, lost in thought, I closed out my register and put the money in the bag, tucked it under my arm, waved at the manager. walked out the door across the street, walked by the policeman's open window and waved at him.   When I got to my car, and started to put my purse in it, I noticed I had an extra purse.  PANIC TIME.  I tucked the bag back under my arm, walked BACK by the policeman's open window, but DIDN'T wave this time in case I dropped the money bag,  and quickly stepped into back to the store and explained myself with a VERY red face.  Then I came back to my car  past the clueless policeman again whom I didn't even look at this time, and made a clean get a way.

I mentioned using that intercom, that was a fairly new thing then.  Not only would it broadcast all over the store if we wanted it to, someone in the office could turn it on and hear what the employees were saying at whichever station the person selected.   The store didn't have surveillance cameras up like they all do now.  Back in the early 80's, I wasn't keen on someone sneaking around so to speak and listening to me secretly.  Also, I have a bit of contrariness in me too, as you may have already surmised.

I once heard the floor manager tell a salesman that the people in the office were smarter than the clerks working on the floor, they weren't educated.  Well, that wasn't true, I was high school valedictorian and in college.  Maybe I knew a thing or two the people in the office didn't know!  What the Big Boss in the office didn't know, is that when he turned the intercom on to listen to us, a little light would come on and you could hear a static noise when it first came on, so it wasn't ENTIRELY secret to those who knew what to watch for, and I DID. At first, we would just stay completely silent when it came on (if there were no customers) until he got bored with listening and hung up.  Sometimes we would amuse ourselves and say ridiculous stuff when it came on. 

One day I had had enough, we were all honest back there in the cosmetic department, money had never gone missing,  We didn't need to be spied on.  So when the intercom came on, I stood there and rubbed and scraped and banged a little on the microphone so he would either get annoyed and stop listening or think it wasn't working anymore and stop listening.  I just had to apply the treatment a few more times and that problem was solved, no more blinking light!  I just wish secret surveillance on innocent honest folk was that easy to get rid of today!  However, sadly, they did later catch someone at the front registers who was stealing money.  Seems like one person can ruin it for all of us!

Natalie Clountz in 1983 TV commercial for Barretts Drug Cosmetics department which aired on KXII 12 news - my fifteen seconds of fame!

Christmas was the BIG time at Barretts.  The employees were working six days a week at Barrett's Cut Rate Drug.  The managers were looking forward to their big Christmas bonuses, (we didn't get one), so they always had a smile on their faces this time of year.  Our floor manager, whom I liked very much, James Lively, loved to walk around the store and sing Christmas songs, always all jolly and merry.  I had to throw a monkey wrench into it one day; when he walked by singing "Jingle Bells", I started singing a new Christmas song that had just come out on the radio, "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer".  He swiped at me and laughed and called me a scrooge.  From then on 'till Christmas, every time he came around, that's all he heard - "Grandma got run over by a reindeer, walking home from our house Christmas Eve.  You might say there's no such thing as Santa, but as for me and Grandpa, we believe".   He'd just laugh and say "I hate that song".   I'm glad he had a good attitude about it!  It made things fun!

We always tried to keep prices competitive at Barrett's Cut Rate Drug.  One of the favorite things I did was go with James Lively to Walmart and write down prices of everything there, so we could drop our price one penny lower than theirs.  It is not easy to not look conspicuous when you standing in the aisle with a pad and pen writing down all the prices throughout the whole store!  We didn't want to get thrown out of the store before we were finished.  I felt like an undercover agent 007 and I got to go to Braums afterward for a Coke and ice cream cone.   Plus, I got out off work for a day!  It didn't take much to make me happy I guess!

There are many more stories & memories from working at Barrett's.  I learned a lot working at Barrett's, I wouldn't trade it for the world.  Those women there took me in hand, gave me advise on clothes, on my hair, getting contacts, etc.  I learned a lot about people from working with my fellow employees there.   I saw a lot of different people go through that store from all walks of life, people I had never seen before, and I learned things from each one of them due to my observations of them, because I am fascinated with people!  I also learned there,  no matter what job you are doing, do your best, do it with pride and have fun doing it!


Elaine Nall Bay