Legendary Beale Street store changing owners - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Legendary Beale Street store changing owners

(WMC-TV) - Legendary Beale Street store A. Schwab closed its doors as a family-owned building Wednesday, but new owners will keep the dry goods store the way it is.

A. Schwab is partially a Beale Street museum, full of Memphis memorabilia and a depiction of how the city has changed.  The store will now see its own changes as the deed passes to new hands.

"When I graduated from high school, I graduated on a Friday night, came to work Saturday morning and I've stayed here," said former owner Elliot Schwab.

A fourth generation owner, Schwab said he has spent three decades managing the family heirloom, established in 1876.

"We just decided it was time for us to move on," he said.

Schwab said his family is passing off the store to corporate owners who have vowed to restore and retain the antique inventory.

"Keep it as a family friendly venue, because Beale Street needs that instead of it being all bar down here," he said.

Schwab said his great grandfather started the business selling socks and men's hats.  As the city of Memphis grew, so did his local retail icon.

"It went from being just clothing and housewares to gift items and souvenirs," said Schwab.

An employee for more than 37 years, Shirley Rayford said she worked Abe Schwab, grandson of founder Abraham Schwab.

"He would tell them about how things was made, about how cotton went about being generated," said Rayford.

Rayford said she has seen changes at the store before.

"The fourth generation was kind of different from the third generation," she said.  "I've enjoyed working at Schwab's."

Rayford said she plans to continue working under the new owners.

"We discussed closing and selling out since the 60's," said Elliot Schwab.

Now that the day has come, Elliot Schwab said he is confident the legacy will last.

"We're going from our 135 years to their 135 years," he said.

Elliot Schwab said they will soon be releasing information announcing the new owners.  He said customers may even see changes as soon as this week.

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