Greensboro antique Mall is located in the historic Big Store, constructed in 1860 by Mr. Charles Davis, merchant, Civil War soldier and private banker. The Big Store was the largest emporium for goods between Atlanta and Augusta, and boasted that it offered everything from the cradle to the grave.
Following the civil War, Mr. Davis contacted suppliers and friends in New York and was soon back in business. In the 1870's, Mr. Davis would sell the privilege of operating the store to select employees who showed special ability, for periods of five years. This system proved profitable for all concerned. Mr. Davis was free to concentrate on his private banking business from the veranda office of his huge brick mansion on the outskirts of Greensboro. That lovely italianate style home, complete with victorian stables, remains one of Greene county's most famous local landmark and private homes.
In 1900, the Big Store was purchased by Mr. J.H. McCommons. He added a funeral home and caskets to the stock of dry goods, hardware, farm equipment, ready-to-wear and millinery. Clerks were required to wear coats when waiting on customers. Women shoppers would sit on stools at a counter and have all types of merchandise brought to them for inspection and review.
A large manualy operated elevator was located in the rear of the building and was an important part of the McCommons Funeral Home business. The elevator was used to lower the coffins of the "dearly departed" onto a horse driven hearse for the trip to the final resting place in Greensboro Cemetery. This oversized dumbwaiter was also used to transport large items to the upper level of the store, the best place to purchase plows or even a brand new automobile. Today, vistors to the second floor of Greensboro Antique Mall can still see the huge antique elevator.
For 25 years the Mall contained a resident (of the grave), when in 1937 a tramp known as Oscar was put to rest in the McCommons mortuary and his body was never claimed. In 1962 the health department got wind of Oscar and requested that he be buried. Well, Oscar may be gone in the flesh, but when you visit Greensboro mall, the
floors may be creaking . . . not because the building is old.
In later years, the building became home to offices for lawyers and doctors, the Chamber of Commerce and even the town newspaper. Today the Big Store remains in the MCommons family and still forms the heart of downtown Greensboro. The building houses a total of three retail businesses, including Greensboro Antique Mall. Greensboro Antique mall has enjoyed welcoming shoppers and visitors for 15 years, since 1994. The Mall is the dream of Kim Lathrup and her late husband, Rick Martin. The Antique Mall offers 11,000 square ft. of antiques and vintage treasures collected by 50 experienced dealers. In the spirit of the original Big Store, Greensboro Antique Mall continues to offer customers personal sevice and a wide selection of just about evrything.