Home' The River Weekly News : RWN 021916 Contents Historic Downtown Fort Myers, Then And Now:
Parker's Book Store Had It All
by Gerri Reaves, PhD
For anyone who loved the old-style stationery and office-
supply stores, this circa-1970 photo is an alluring trip to the
recent past, specifically to Parker's Book Store on Hendry
Oh...to wander the maze of shelves loaded with pens, post-
cards, typewriters, school supplies, picture frames, books, endless
reams of paper, and even a globe.
Notice the extra stock stacked on top of the wall shelves and
nearly reaching the ceiling.
That jam-packed merchandise sends that seductive message of
all good office-supply stores: "These products will organize your
life, get things done, and make life easier."
At the time the photo was taken, the long-running business was in its last phase
and at its final location, the Leon Building in a storefront now occupied by a section of
a cigar bar.
Suzanne Sutton remembers Parker's very well. While still in high school in 1970,
she had a part-time job in a law office in the Collier Arcade. Once she started college,
she continued working there.
Her position as a secondary receptionist and "runner" involved occasionally running
a block to Parker's.
She says the circa-1970 photo was taken from the front entrance. The cash regis-
ter was located just out-of-frame on the right, and the rear glass doors open onto Patio
She notes the store's marketing-savvy, strategically placed picture frames and desk
lamps right up front to catch a shopper's eye while she searches for the "humdrum
supplies that were actually on that day's shopping list!"
bought Tutblanx at
Parker's, which com-
puters have appar-
ently made obsolete.
standard legal forms
for mortgages, deeds,
quitclaims and other
She says you
popped them in the
typewriter with car-
bon paper and filled
out the blanks.
The store's names
-- including Parker's
Book Store, then
Book and Music
Store, and lastly,
-- do not reflect the
wide range of mer-
chandise and services
it offered for more
than eight decades.
James B. "JB"
Parker came to Fort
Myers from Georgia
in 1905 when he
was about 20 years
old, first working as a
bookkeeper in R.A.
Store. He started the business in 1910 on Hendry Street near the courtyard entrance.
Between then and the closing of the business over 80 years later, it had several down-
After the Earnhardt Building was completed in 1914, ithe book store became one
of the first tenants, advertising talking machines, musical instruments, sheet music,
cameras and photo supplies.
In the 1920s, the store was a licensed Edison dealer and sold the Edison phono-
graph -- even on the installment plan! The renowned inventor visited the store to listen
to his favorite recordings.
Also in the late 1920s, the store started selling sporting goods and had contracts to
supply office furniture to regional schools and other public buildings.
By the early 1930s, the store moved to the Leon Building on Hendry, where it
remained until it closed in the early 1990s -- oddly enough, just a few storefronts north
of the original location.
Over the years, the store had something for everyone: school books, office fixtures
and supplies, magazines, calendars, newspapers, greeting cards, gifts and even picture-
After Parker died in 1947, his son carried on the business.
Walk down Hendry Street to see the former location of Parker's, where you could
dash in for a legal form, greeting card, fountain pen, or book.
Then walk a few more blocks to the Southwest Florida Museum of History at 2031
Jackson Street to see the antique cash register that once resided in Parker's Book
continued on page 6
THE RIVER - FEBRUARY 19, 2016
This circa-1970 photo was taken from the front entrance of Parker's Book Store in the Leon
Building on Hendry Street
courtesy Southwest Florida Historical Society
The River Weekly News will correct factual errors or matters of emphasis and interpretation that appear in news stories.
Readers with news, tips, comments or questions, please call (239) 415-7732 or write to: The River Weekly News,
1609 Hendry Street, Suite 15, Fort Myers, FL 33901. Fax number: (239) 415-7702. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The River Weekly News reserves the right to refuse, alter or edit any editorial or advertisement.
Independently Owned And Operated • COPYRIGHT 2016 The River Weekly News • LORKEN Publications, Inc.
and Ken Rasi
Gerri Reaves, Ph D
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Marion Hauser, MS, RD
Ross Hauser, MD
Capt. Matt Mitchell
Cynthia A. Williams
The former Parker's storefront is now a section of a cigar bar
photo by Gerri Reaves
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