The Company Store Debate

R. A Long was adamant about having a "company store" in Longview. It would be named the Columbia River Mercantile Store and would be housed in the Long-Bell Store & Office Building on the Southwest corner of Commerce and Broadway. The store would occupy the northerly two-thirds area of the main floor and mezzanine and carry such items as clothing, shoes, groceries, produce & meat, a barber shop and beauty salon, along with a variety of everyday commodities. R. A Long insisted that Long-Bell employees have easy access to commodities to assure all the comforts of modern day living. Employee credit purchases were also encouraged.

However, those in the Long-Bell real estate office complained that continued operation of a "Company Store" would deter real estate sales to such companies as Montgomery Ward and the Woolworth Company. Fearing company controlled competition, national retailers were reluctant to settle in the Longview area. To Mr. Long, the company store made good economic sense. It not only provided workers with easy access to commodities, nearly two-thirds of Long Bell's Longview payroll was recovered through the Company's subsidiaries, including the company store.

The debate on the pros and cons of the company store operation continued for several years, finally yielding to R. A Long's decision and persistence. The Columbia River Mercantile Store continued until the late 1940's when the building sold to Allied Stores (Bon Marche).

The Merk

1339 Commerce Avenue
Longview, WA   98632

Building Hours:
8am - 6pm Monday - Friday
8am - 5pm Saturday
Closed on Sundays

Holiday Closures:
New Year's Day
Memorial Day
July 4th
Labor Day

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