The exterior of Judd’s, St. George, Utah, September 29, 2018 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News
FEATURE – It offers visitors a heavy dose of nostalgia, from the variety of retro sweets to the old-fashioned memorabilia that adorns its walls. It has been a fixture in the same place for over a century.
What customers may not know about the Thomas Judd store in downtown St. George on Tabernacle Street is that it is the oldest continuing business in St. family business in the city.
Original owner history
Thomas Judd was a prominent businessman in early St. Louis. Born in 1845, he immigrated to Utah from England in the early 1860s after his family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was a bugler in the Navajo Indian Wars of 1866-1870.
Along with two other partners, he opened the Woolley Lund and Judd Store in 1875, which provided competition to the Southern Cooperative Mercantile Store in Utah established by the church. He served a mission in his native England from 1876-1878.
In addition to the jointly owned store, he had a hand in several other businesses in Washington County.
In 1888, he developed a plan to divert water from the Virgin River to the LaVerkin bench through a canal and was forced to mortgage his house to raise the capital needed to complete the project, which was a key factor in the founding of LaVerkin. Judd also became president of the LaVerkin Fruit and Nursery Company to establish orchards and vineyards, produce wine and promote agriculture in the area. He also leased the Washington Cotton Mill for five years, from 1890-1895, employing 70-80 people and helping it turn a profit for the first time in its history.
Jude served as bishop of the 1st Ward of St. George for 18 years, from 1879 to 1897, after which he was called to colonize Whitewater, Nevada. He returned to St.
Judd built and opened the store in 1911, its location across from Woodward School being a fortunate location.
The shop was built of adobe that was the same thickness as the houses around it – the house behind was Judy’s own.
The store became very successful. Instead of selling the foods he does now, he first catered to the area’s ranchers and shepherds, who were a major economic engine in Dixie’s early days. Back then, it sold everything from hay and grain to Levi’s and sheep supplies. She also carried groceries and dry goods, including clothing, kerosene, hay and cloth.
Thomas Judd died in 1922. His son, Joseph, continued to run the store and then turned the operations over to his son, Tom.
In the early 1980s, St.
Tom Judd continued to operate the store even after Greene’s bought it and retired in 1988.
Judd’s store seemed to have a symbiotic relationship with the school across the street, first Woodward School, which now serves as part of the Washington County School District offices, and then West Elementary, which stood where it is now 5th Circuit Court. Students from both schools were regulars at the shop during lunch to stock up on treats for the day.
However, in 1983, the faculty and principal of West Elementary decided to implement a closed campus policy, prohibiting students from purchasing anything from the store during school hours.
The store’s owner at the time, Tom Judd, Jr., wasn’t keen on the decision. He admitted that, at the time, the store depended on student purchases, which he said accounted for roughly 50 percent of his business. The small store found it difficult to compete with the larger chain stores.
Some 5th and 6th graders at West Elementary School even drew posters protesting the closed campus policy. The posters read “Mr. Judd, we love you” and “America, the land of the free, so Mr. Judd stays.”
Teachers said children crossing the street posed a safety hazard, to which Judd countered, saying there had never been an accident involving a student in the store’s history. Teachers also said candy was not good for their students and contributed to hyperactivity.
Initially, the policy was implemented in a two-week trial, after which teachers strongly noted that there were fewer problems in the school since the change.
The school principal admitted that he was not trying to harm Judd’s Store with the new policy, but that he was simply looking out for the safety of his students.
Later, however, the Washington County School Board made Judd’s Store an honorary part of the West Elementary campus and gave students permission to cross the street and visit the store during school hours if they had a permission form signed by their parents. theirs. The school board even received letters of support from community leaders criticizing the closed campus policy because it put an undue hardship on Judd’s Store.
Visiting Judd’s is a tradition for many St. Louis residents. One woman in particular has made the store her “labor of love.”
Heather Graff, who was a regular at the store when she was a 6th grader at the county center (Woodward School) in the early 1990s. She even has some family history at the store; her grandfather worked there in the 1940s.
On elementary school days, she said the shop would host girls’ and boys’ days, when she would drop off about 10 kids at a time to enjoy some food away from their school campus.
“I remember it was packed with kids,” Graff said.
Graff would get nachos, bread and Pepsi on her trips there during school hours.
“I don’t remember anything healthy,” she noted.
These days, the nostalgia of the cakes and decor are certainly a draw for locals and visitors, Graff said, but it’s also the shop’s friendliness that has endeared it to the hearts of many regulars.
“People like to go where they feel important,” she said.
Store staff know the names of regular customers and have a good idea of what they will order based on what they have ordered in the past.
“It’s like ‘Happy’ without the booze,” Graff said, comparing it to the atmosphere portrayed in the popular 1980s sitcom about a Boston neighborhood bar.
The older generation likes the store because it reminds them of their childhood, she said, and kids enjoy it because it reminds them of similar places they’ve been on vacation. Woodward School alumni especially love the memory lane the store offers.
No one will find sheep supplies in the store anymore, but what they will find is very sweet and delicious.
The store still retains some original items inside and boasts a 1946 manufactured gas pump in front. It’s not the original, but it’s in the same place where a similar one used to be.
The small shop, located in the center of St.
For more information, visit the store’s Facebook page.
The photo gallery follows below.
About the series “Days”
“Days” is a series of stories about the people and places, industry and history in and around the southwest Utah region.
“I write stories to help Southwest Utahns enjoy the region’s history as much as its landscapes,” said the St. George News, Reuben Wadsworth.
For sneak peeks at Series of Days stories, local history insights, and information on upcoming historical presentations, please “like” the Wadsworth author’s facebook page.
Wadsworth has also released a book compilation of many of the historical features written about Washington County, as well as a second volume containing stories about other places in Southern Utah, Northern Arizona, and Southern Nevada.
Read more: See all features in the Days series.
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