Pollock’s Shoes, Asheville, NC

In my ongoing search for all things concerning hiking clothing, I found this ad in a 1926 issue of Everygirl’s, the Campfire Girls magazine.  I can’t resist looking at the lists of stores whenever they are a part of an ad, and I’m always interested to see if there was a store in Western North Carolina that offered the product.

In 1926 Cantilever Shoes could be bought at Pollock’s Shoes in Asheville.  I had read about Pollock’s in the great booklet, The Family Store, which tells about all the Jewish-owned businesses that could be found in Asheville in the twentieth century.  Pollock’s was owned by Lou Pollack, who according to his obituary, started the business in 1910.  In the 1920s the store was located on Patton Avenue, one of the main streets in downtown Asheville.

There have been a lot of changes on Patton Avenue, including the loss of two entire blocks to parking lots, and much of another to a modern bank building.  Almost incredibly the old Pollock’s store has survived at 39 Patton Avenue, with some distinctive brickwork that can be seen in old photos still in place today.

I was a bit surprised when I looked up one day while walking on nearby Haywood Street, to see the Pollock’s name.

By studying old city directories, which can be found online, I found that for a period of time mainly during the 1940s, there was a second Pollock’s store.  Just by looking at the decoration on the exterior of the building, my guess is that it was a posher version of the old family oriented store.

The Haywood Street Pollock’s was sandwiched between the very nice Bon Marche department store, on the left, and Woolworth’s on the right.  The Bon Marche opened in 1937, and Woolworth’s in 1938, and my guess is that the Pollock’s space dates to the same time period.

Lou Pollock was famous for having a yearly Christmas party for children who needed shoes, and he must have given away thousands of pairs over the years.  Pollock retired from his store in 1939, but the Patton Avenue store was open at least until 1956, the last year I found it listed in the city directory.

I love this kind of urban exploration.  There are little bits of the past still to be found in brick and plaster, tile and signage.  It’s all a matter of keeping one’s eyes open.

14 Comments

Filed under North Carolina, Shoes

14 responses to “Pollock’s Shoes, Asheville, NC

  1. Dee

    I wanted to say a quick thank you, I really enjoy your blog and your posts about the Campfire Girls led me to research a bit and also to find some Campfire Girls stories from Guttenberg which I have really enjoyed.

    Also, I love old buildings and finding out their history!

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  2. Exactly! I had a similar experience in Louisville while researching local stores. The names are often still there if we just look for them

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  3. Alas, the city where I live was created out of ranch land in 1965. There are still a few buildings remaining from when it was a big ranch, though.

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  4. I’ve had Jewish friends hailing from the strangest little places around the USA, and they all come from families that owned stores, big and small. My uncle, orphaned at 13 in 1928, was sent to live with relatives who owned a dry-goods store in a tiny town in Virginia. While not a pleasant experience (they used to lock him in the store when they went away), that’s where he got his start on a long and successful career.

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  5. Phyl D

    For some dopey reason, at first, I thought this might be a post about Jackson Pollock’s paint splattered shoes….still, a very interesting post just the same. Thanks, Lizzie!

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  6. Pingback: Updates – The Rest of the Story | The Vintage Traveler

  7. Betty Pollock Golden

    Well here I am again. I’m doing some more research on my father Lou Pollock, Asheville, NC. I’m now 90 and am on another mission for him.
    The Cemetery in West Asheville is named the Lou Pollock Memorial Park and unfortunately (that’s life) I must go there to visit my whole family and many friends. I am the last of the Pollock girls and am trying to write a history
    for all the nieces and nephews and “greats” galore! I have the stories in my head they want to hear.
    I have a great niece helping me and we are stumped. I don’t know if it’s possible that someone from Pittsburgh PA might happen to read this.
    That’s where my Mother & Father lived when they came from the “Old Country” I found out that there was an Ice Cream store in Pittsburgh where my Father proposed to my Mother. Wyler’s was the name. (Anybody??)
    My father died in 1956 (at only 69) and had retired to Palm Beach. He built some apartments there but he came back to Asheville when he had a Heart attack then passed away. Also my husband Stan Golden died 2008 and is there of course.
    The 100th anniversary is coming up in Oct. when there will be a special ceremony and I hope to be there to represent my entire family.
    Being 90 is not bad after all.
    thanks for the interest shown here and I hope you will forgive how long it took for me to find you again.
    Sincerely,
    Betty Pollock Golden
    Sept.1,2016

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  8. Betty Pollock Golden

    Well here I am again. It’s January 16, 2017 and I have finally accomplished a good bit of my personal Pollock family history. I have counted 115 direct descendants and am writing all that I remember for them.
    Names, dates and anecdotes galore. Asheville is where I grew up and married. Then moved to Greenville – back to Asheville – Lansing Michigan and now Atlanta GA. I have some of the pictures shown in your story and would send some others but don’t know how. Sorry, I did not learn the computer until the last 30 years and still needing help.
    I was surprised and delighted to see my father’s story still here and hope others might add to it.And I’m still looking for Hyler’s Ice Cream Store in Pittsburgh,PA
    Thank you,
    Betty Pollock Golden

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