Photo; A "b ue ribbon sale" draws a crowd to A. Schwab at 163-165 Beale in this undated photo. Schwab's is the only original business still in operation on the famous street, moving into the location in 1912. The Schwab family had been in business on Beale since 1876.
Besides the Internet, where else can you buy fake samurai swords, suits of armor, cowboy hats, cast-iron cookware, voodoo dolls, love potions and mojo bags?
But unless there's some magic to make time stand still, the legendary A. Schwab dry goods store on Beale Street may fade into history.
Descendants of Abraham Schwab, a haberdasher who founded the store in 1876, have listed it for sale with commercial real estate broker Slovis & Associates.
"It's sort of the next generation is not interested," said Sam Braslow, a schoolteacher who owns the Le Sel Corp. with his brother Marvin Braslow and cousins Elliott Schwab and Mike Weis. "There's a reason businesses like ours don't exist anymore."
Store manager Elliott Schwab, 49, has mixed feelings about selling out after 32 years walking the ancient wood-planked aisles.
"I don't want to go along with it; I'm kind of going along with it," said Schwab, wearing flannel shirt, jeans and an A. Schwab ballcap.
"With the economy, and the headaches of having to do everything, it has just kind of gotten to me. I'm tired of it," Schwab said.
He added, "If I were in a position to keep it open, I think I would. I enjoy coming down here."
Family members signed papers to put it on the market three weeks ago.
Commercial Realtor Adam Slovis said an asking price hasn't been set and will likely be determined by give-and-take of offers and development plans from potential buyers.
The buildings, connected on the interior, cover nearly 20,000 square feet, according to the Shelby County Assessor of Property, which has them appraised at $426,000.
Slovis said it's hard to set a value, because of the historic nature of the brand, lack of comparable sales and the location in the state's top tourist destination.
"This truly has the old adage of location, location, location. It is smack dab in the middle of Beale Street between Silky O'Sullivan's and B.B. King's Blues Club."
Because it was a going business when the City of Memphis bought up Beale Street to create an entertainment district in the 1970s and 1980s, "It is the only property on Beale Street the city doesn't own," Slovis said.
"It's just time" for the owners to sell, Slovis added. "They would love to see a part of the history remain in whatever happens."
"I think my mother realized at some point it's going to have to end," said Sam Braslow, 56, a teacher at Houston High School. His mother, the late Eleanor Schwab Braslow, was a granddaughter of Abraham Schwab. She died in 2005.
Customers browsed in the store Friday, pausing over unusual items and snapping photos of each other trying on feathered hats.
Dustin and Megan Doherty of Tahlequah, Okla., with 2-year-old son Jonah in tow, were enticed by a storefront armor display.
"It looks interesting," said Dustin. "We just came from Tater Red's, so this is pretty mild," he added.
Jonathan Dreifus, visiting from Portland, Maine, grew up in Memphis and was on Beale Street showing his children around Schwab's. The Dreifuses and Schwabs are connected somewhere on their family trees. "I hope it stays like it is."
Joseph Braslow, Sam's son and a fifth-generation family storekeeper, said Memphis-themed postcards, Elvis Presley items, old-fashioned candies displayed general store style, and "the mojo-voodoo stuff" are among best sellers. Younger customers favor the armor: breastplates, helmets, knives, swords, axes.
"This store is kind of random, but it works."
Elliott said, "We've always been almost a bizarre mix of merchandise, so that's what we keep doing. We'll buy something and if it sells, we'll buy more of it. If it doesn't, we won't get it again."
Best-sellers vary from day to day and sometimes surprise even a veteran like Elliott Schwab.
"These old ladies came in, and they went crazy for these knit caps. They bought all we had, four to six dozen. We had had them for a few years. They had this old-style look to them."
Over in the incense, curios, oils and lode-stones department, one could find jinx removing candles, $6, mojo bags for purposes ranging from "attraction" to "gamblers" to "strong love," $10, and a John the Conqueror Voodoo Doll, $5.
Buyer beware, though. "The articles in this department are sold without any claims or pretense of any natural or super-natural powers, affects or revelations. Signed, A. Schwab."
Source; By Wayne Risher - commercialappeal.com - itselvistime.nl / EpGold