“What Piru Has….”
In 1930 and 31, the Piru News ran a series of articles entitled, “What Piru Has….” The paper described the series as “a series of weekly articles describing the various industries, products, organizations, schools, business houses of Piru and vicinity.” Two of the issues addressed the business that were in Piru. Below is the first of the two articles.
Piru News, Volume IV, Number 40, 13 November 1930
PIRU BUSINESS Part 1
Piru has a bank, a drugstore, four grocery stores, six gasoline filling stations, and garages, a furniture store, a general store selling almost every article in common use. a gent’s furnishings and notions store, three combined barbershop and pool rooms, two restaurants and other smaller businesses.
The Bank of America, a branch institution until last week under the name. Bank of Italy has been operating as a part of the great banking chain since February 8 when it was taken over from the Fillmore State bank. The state bank started here in June 1918 as a branch of the Fillmore institution. In good times deposits at the local bank have reached a total of $350,000. Owing to business depression deposits just now are under that figure. The bank was started as a one-man affair by W. L. Ramsay who operated it for six months. Clyde E. Spencer then took charge and managed it for three years when he resigned to enter the real estate business. James Brady is the present manager and is assisted by Leo Sheffield. teller. Brady declares that all charges for various transactions are unusually low at the local bank. The bank owns its own building, a neat brick structure at Center and Main streets.
The Drugstore: An up-to-date drugstore carrying a complete line of articles usually sold in a modern pharmacy is operated by E. C. Brehm, who has been in the drug business for 31 years and who has been a registered pharmacist 24 years. A large line of soft drinks and ice cream concoctions are sold at the soda fountain. All kinds of drugs, drug sundries, patent medicines, toilet articles, stationery, clocks, magazines, etc., are sold here. Brehm makes a specialty of filling prescriptions. The owner came here three years ago and about a year ago built the red brick structure that houses the store. The business was purchased from A. L, Wilkie, who gave Piru its first drugstore on November 25, 1925. Brehm has been a druggist in Missouri, Kansas and Texas.
Situated beside the bank is the Ideal Billiard Parlor and Barbershop of T. H. Green who built the brick structure in which the business is housed four years ago after operating in another structure for three years. Two barber chairs and a soft drink, tobacco and cigar counter are located in the front room. In the rear there are two pool tables and two snooker tables which usually are kept busy especially of evenings.
Macy’s Grocery Store, operated by Mrs. Laura Macy and her son, Les, stands beside Green’s barbershop and is housed in a brick building erected by the Macys about the same time the barbershop structure was built and is the same size. The business is one of the Blue & White stores, which means that it is owned locally by an Independent dealer but that goods are purchased from the Blue & White concern.
A high-grade line of groceries, canned goods, fruits, some vegetables. cigars, tobaccos and candies are handled here.
The Macys took over the store seven years ago from T. T. Kirkham who operated across the street, where Mrs. Delis Trotter now has a furniture store. The grocery enjoys a large trade from both the town and country people.
Cornelius Store: W. G. Cornelius operates the next store down the street in conjunction with the post office. Everything from post cards to radios and from clocks to overalls are sold in this store but especially gents furnishings, notions, confectionery, cigars, magazines and tobacco.
Cornelius built the store building this year. It is a neat stucco structure with cement floor and is one of the coolest places in town on hot summer days. The proprietor has been in business here ten years.
At one time in partnership with Hugh Warring, he started a store in the Buckhorn district, had one in Piru and later bought a third here and started what was known as the Ventura Cooperative association. Cornelius managed the three stores until his health failed. For a time after coming to Piru. he had a health resort in Lechler canyon, but this was destroyed by fire and a flood,
The Piru Furniture Store, operated by Mrs. Delia Trotter, had a unique beginning. Mrs. Trotter says that she and her husband had so many household articles that they did not know where to keep them.
These things were stored in their garage and everywhere possible. One day she had a bright idea. She suggested that if her husband would put a floor in the garage, she would open a secondhand furniture store and sell the belongings.
This proposal was carried out at once and “things went like hot cakes," Mrs. Trotter said, because there were so many oil workers in town then. The neighbors took advantage of the opportunity and bought furniture and other articles they didn’t want, and Mrs. Trotter sold them.
After that Mrs. Trotter went into the business in earnest. She moved into her brick building on Center street and has increased her stock to include both new and used furniture, kitchen utensils, dishes, rugs, etc. Her store is now in its fourth year.
Piru News, Volume IV, Number 41, 20 November 1930
The United Mercantile store is a branch of a Fillmore concern of the same name. Here it had its origin in the Ventura County Cooperative association, organized by W. G. Cornelius and Hugh Warring and which for a time operated three stores in this district.
George Alltis is the present store manager. A general line of dry goods, clothing, notions, shoes, groceries, paints and hardware is sold.
What is now the United Mercantile store was started more than a quarter of a century ago by W G. Cornelius and Hugh Warring.
Cornelius explains that after the Piru Land and Oil company bought the interests of David C. Cook here, a general merchandising store was started by the company with W. H. Fleet as manager.
Then Cornelius and Warring, who already operated a store at Buckhorn, came into Piru and launched a general store and butcher shop. Fleet sold his interests in the company store to a firm called La Point and Lawrence.
A price cutting war ensued between the two stores with Cornelius and Warring meeting the competition with even lower prices until finally such a method was deemed folly and La Point and Lawrence sold their store to Cornelius and Waning.
Lacking funds sufficient to carry on the new owners organized the Ventura Cooperative association with twenty-five members paid up at $l00 each. Cornelius acted as store manager.
The enterprise proved highly successful and it expanded and opened a branch at Fillmore after buying the stores of George Tighe at Fillmore and Sespe. Many new members were then taken into the association from Piru. Fillmore and Bardsdale.
In later years and under new management the concern was incorporated, and it became the present United Mercantile company.
The Pioneer Market which recently was purchased from A. Nelson by Clays and Nary and which later was bought by Clays and Clays, sells all kinds of fresh and alt meats and vegetables and ice. Mr. and Mrs. Clays owned the market some four years before it was sold to Nelson.
Belty’s Barbershop, R O Belty claims to have been operating a place of business longer than any other person in Piru. He has been in the barber business here for 31 years. Belty has three pool tables, two barbershops and sells candy, cigars, hair tonics, etc.
The Mission Inn operated by Mr. and Mrs. B. A. Clough is located on Center street at the Intersection of Telegraph road in its own building. The Cloughs were proprietors first nine years ago and then were out a year They returned in January of this year. Four years ago, the owners doubled the size of the building. Short orders, meals, soil drinks, candies and cigars may be obtained here.
The cook is Miss Lillian Davis and Miss Elizabeth Wagener is the present waitress.
Next down the street Is the Piru Garage operated by J. P. “Slim'’ Davis, handling Standard and Edington gasoline, Willard batteries and doing a general auto repair Davis has been in the garage business there for two and one-half years. The garage is headquarters for the Piru volunteer fire department, the apparatus being housed there gratis.
Ruiz' Barbershop: For three years G. T. Ruiz has been conducting a pool room, barber shop, soft drink place and card tables in a building belonging to the Eastside Brewing company. Tobaccos, cigars and candies also are sold there.
Highway Market: A general line of groceries, meats vegetables, fresh fruits and nuts are sold at the Highway Market, of which Clyde E. Spencer is the proprietor. A real estate and insurance business is also conducted in this store. Spencer, who formerly was the local bank manager, has considerable trade from motorists as well as townspeople living in that section of town. He takes a pride in keeping his store looking ''shipshape" and clean,
The Bowdle and Bowdle service station is 100 per cent Richfield in gasoline and oils. Tires and various auto accessories also are sold there. Five cabins for tourists are operated in connection with the service station and during the tourist season a rood business is done in rentals. The Piru dance hall is situated on the Bowdle property. This structure is 40 x 80 feet in dimension.
Across the bridge from Bowdle's a gasoline station was installed this summer and is operated by Tom Dominguez.
Harry’s Lunch: "T-Bone" Harry Ridenbaugh conducts a restaurant at the intersection of Telegraph road and Center street. Meals and short orders, soft drinks and ice cream products are sold here.
Opposite Harry’s lunch is Stewart's Garage, oil station, and machine shop. The proprietors are Albert and his father, A. J Stewart. General automobile repair work is done here.
The Ramona Garage which soon is to be the home of the Piru Ford automobile agency in a new building now under construction. is conducted at the Telegraph road and Main street intersection by James and Ace Wallace, brothers. This is another 100 per cent Richfield station.
In addition to doing a general repair business, soft drinks, candies, tobaccos and oranges are sold here.
Tate's Garage: On the dairy road south of town, Oliver Tate does a gasoline, oil and automobile repair business at a place known as Tate's garage.
La Victoria Store is a Mexican chain store is situated on Main street doing business in a general line of groceries.
One of the latest additions to the business section is a physician’s office which was opened a few months ago by Dr. Hart D. Wilson, a young man who came here after serving his internship in an Oakland hospital.
For twenty years William Chessani has had a shoe repair and harness shop in Piru His shop is now on Center street. He formerly conducted the business in a room at his home.