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The Kaffie- Frederick General Mercantile is an historically rich location in downtown Natchitoches that is a must- visit for nonlocals in town. With a combined crowd of locals and tourists, the culturally rich downtown Natchitoches offers beautiful sites, and a trip to the Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile is a must for any visitor. The Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile is in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and was established in 1893.


“Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile”

The Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile is located on Natchitoches’ famous, historically rich Front Street. As one enters, one steps into a piece of the city’s history. The store still offers products within broad categories: household items, children’s toys, gardening supplies, and everything in between, both historical and modern. 

Brothers Adolph and Harris Kaffie were Jewish Prussian immigrants who moved to the United States during the 1860’s to escape the religious persecution they faced in Europe, despite the fact that the United States was in the middle of the Civil War. Many Jewish immigrants during this time period started small businesses upon arriving in the States, and the brothers followed the trend. The brothers did not jump into working this two-storey store; they actually began as a door-to-door sales business in 1863. Their most successful business came from wealthy plantation owners who bought paid basic household items. The popular and hardworking business from these brothers eventually led to the growth of their business.[1]

After thirty years of the door to door work, the brothers finally moved their business into a permanent home. They compiled a seemingly small amount, $1616.29, for the purchase of the land as well as the construction of the building. [2]The money they spent on the building constitutes about $45,000 today. The store was constructed in 1893, and is primarily made of brick and contains two floors[3]. The bottom floor was split by a wall to separate the housewares and the hardware, and the second floor was strictly a showroom.[4]This bold, expensive move made by the brothers and their cousins was ultimately extremely successful and rewarding. 
             The name “Kaffie-Frederick” was not used until 1956, but an interesting sequence of events led up to this historical event for the store.[5]Prior to 1920, the family owned and ran the business alone. They did not hire outside of the family, until Titus Frederick began working at the store. He worked his low-ranking job for nineteen years, until he became the vice-president and general manager of the store. Seventeen years after he started, in 1956, Titus became a partial owner of the store, and the name of the store was changed.[6]

A freight elevator was installed just a few years after the completion of the building in 1893. This same elevator is still present in the store today, though it is powered by electricity instead of by man-power. The owners needed a substantial cash register, and in 1917, they purchased the large hand-crank cash register from the National Cash Register Company that is still used in the store to this day.[7]

The conservation of the exterior is an evident priority of the owners, but they also preserve the store’s past by selling historical items.[8]Most of these items are practical in some way. The store also sells modern items in order to keep the store running, because the demand for vintage items is not high enough. These items include cast iron cookware, cooking utensils, pots and pans, wagons, toy cars, soap, galvanized tubs, and more. The blend of both new and old can mean a Saturday afternoon shopping trip for many locals and tourists alike.

  Additional Readings:

http://oldhardwarestore.com/cart/categories.php

https://www.inspirock.com/united-states/natchitoches/kaffie-frederick-general-mercantile-store-a597736381

 


[1]Frederick, “A Brief History of the Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile,” Kaffie Frederick General Mercantile Website, 2009. http://oldhardwarestore.com/our-story.php

[2]Frederick, “A Brief History of the Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile.” 

[3]Berry Tramel, “Gulf Shores Travelblog: Navigating I-10 with GPS” The Oklahoman, Last Modified July 28, 2018. https://newsok.com/article/5602947/does-gps-help-on-interstate-10

[4]Frederick, “A Brief History of the Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile.”

[5]Frederick, “A Brief History of the Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile.”

[6]Frederick, “A Brief History of the Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile.”

[7]Brett Hudson, “Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile: Charms of Old.” News Star, Last modified July 23, 2016. https://www.thenewsstar.com/story/life/2016/06/27/kaffie-frederick-general-mercantile-charms-old/86362724/

[8]Tramel, “Gulf Shores Travelblog: Navigating I-10 with GPS.”