Friday, April 18, 2014
The antique town on a buffalo trail.
Craighead's Five and Dime
Craighead’s Five and Dime is a variety store that has been a Caddo fixture for generations. If you need gifts, novelties, books, baby clothes, house wares, toys, candy, jewelry, piece goods, stationary, fresh flowers, balloons, or the work of local crafters, Craighead’s is the place to shop.
There is a rich history to be found between the wood floors and tin ceiling tiles of this fascinating store. The Craighead family established their business in Caddo in 1934. It was located in two other buildings before moving to its present location at 113 Buffalo. Once known as The Notion Shop, and later as Craighead’s Variety Store, it became so familiar that folks just referred to it as "Craighead’s". After Mr. and Mrs. L.N. Craighead retired, their daughter, Maurine took over the business.
In 2002, when her health started deteriorating, Maurine decided to close the store. However, Gary and Belinda Davison offered to buy the business to help save a part of history and carry on a tradition in their hometown. The years and elements had not been kind to the building. It needed a new roof, west wall and lots of repairs. The beautiful ceiling tiles were still in place. The turn-of-the-century store front with it’s broad display windows was still intact. But there was lots of work to be done.
They hired a carpenter and began the arduous task of renovation. The store was full of new and vintage merchandise that had to be stored and protected during the remodeling process. They began at the back of the store and worked forward. The store is one hundred feet long and the renovation process was twenty-five feet from the front of the store when tragedy struck.
On Wednesday, May 15, 2002, the support column on the west side of the building collapsed. The store lay in a heap of rubble.
Many people assumed after the collapse that the “Craighead’s era” was over and the store wouldn’t survive. Belinda never gave that a thought. “It never entered our minds not to go on. We just picked up the pieces, LOTS of pieces, and moved forward.” As soon as the dust settled they began the daunting task of picking up thousands of bricks and placing them in orderly stacks.
Local residents helped with the cleanup effort. Many cried to see pieces of the beloved landmark scattered on the street. Young children helped pick up bricks. Women brought food and water. Men moved heavy broken ceiling beams. City workers used their equipment to haul away debris. Most of the group worked until midnight. But the real work had just begun.
Belinda and her husband, Gary began cleaning brick on their front sidewalk on Memorial Day. They were still cleaning brick on their front sidewalk on Labor Day. The collapse came during one of the wettest seasons on record. Merchandise in the store had to be covered with tarps. They removed the tarps to work during the day and then had to replace them all each evening if there was rain forecast. About 25% of the store’s merchandise was lost, not due to the collapse, but because of a major storm that hit the day after it- before they could get everything covered.
The community of Caddo joined together to have a fund raiser for the Davison’s store. They held a community hamburger supper with a silent auction along with a pie and cake auction. But the funds weren’t the only “boost” for the Davison family. “My family and I will never forget the kindness this community showed us during a very hard time. This community is wonderful, truly wonderful.”
Belinda opened a small section of the renovated store for the 2003 Caddo Heritage Celebration so residents could see their progress. She maintained partial business hours for most of 2004 and then opened full-time in December of 2004. “Today when someone comes in and says the store reminds them of a store from their childhood, or a local resident comes in and says the store looks just like it did when they were a kid, that’s the best compliment Gary and I could ever hope to get!”
(P.O. Box 72)
Caddo, OK 74729