A sidewalk sale in front of the Kress store in the 1960s.

Ancestors, Legends & Time

Visiting with friends and neighbors was half the fun of the sidewalk sales

Jeanne Newby

Remember when Webb City used to have sidewalk sales. What a party! The businesses would pull tables out on the sidewalk and load them with merchandise that hadn’t sold in a while. The prices were so good, and the merchandise irresistible. They would have contests everywhere to entice the shopper to get registered in all the contests.

Not only were the streets lined with tables of colorful merchandise, the center part of the street had kiddie rides to entertain the young like a little Ferris wheel, throwing contests and food booths, with all kinds of treats.

There were walking vendors carrying balloons, dolls, stuffed animals, anything to get the kids interested.

The businesses were still open on the inside offering specials. When I worked for Bradbury Bishop, the sidewalk sales were fun, as we offered bargains to our friends, neighbors and regular customers.

In later years when I worked at the mall for their sidewalk sales, it seemed the merchandise was broken pieces that hadn’t sold in five years because nobody wanted them. It was not the same excitement as the sidewalk sales of the ’60s in Webb City.

More fun than the sidewalk sale was the visiting. Everyone was in town, and you got to visit with folks you hadn’t seen in a while.

Traffic was blocked to make room for the kiddie rides. Banners draped across the street announced it was Sidewalk Sale Time. The best places were the Kress Dime Store, Western Auto, Oklahoma Tire and Supply, The Hub, The Clothing Mart, Taylor’s Men’s Wear, Royal Furniture Co., Spille’s Record Shop, the drug stores, and Shapiro’s Shoes. I know there were more but my mind can’t pull them all up.

Do you feel the excitement? Yes, Joplin had a bigger sidewalk sale with more people and more stores, but you didn’t have that one-on-one with friends and store employees that a smaller town offered.

Of course, there was music drifting around being offered by the Webb City Bank’s speakers on top of the drive-in branch.

A fun thing of the past that we will not see again, but the memories are amazing!

Jeanne Newby

A lot of us appreciate the Bradbury Bishop Fountain, but Jeanne actually worked behind the counter making sodas while she was in high school. She knows everything about Webb City and is a member of the Webb City R-7 School Board.