There were many outstanding retail establishments in West Plains, but none lasted longer or drew as much attention as “Aid’s.” Its founder, Charles Theodore Aid, was a tinsmith trained in Pennsylvania who came west seeking his fortune. In St. Louis he heard of boomtowns developing along the new railroads in the Ozarks. First he tried Rogers, Arkansas, but a traveling salesman for Norval-Shapleigh Hardware, William Cook, convinced him that West Plains was the place to be. He arrived there right after the railroad and with Cook’s help opened a hardware store.
From a tinsmith shop to a hardware store to a department store his business grew through the years as he took advantage of new products and opportunities. His promotional skills and ability to draw huge crowds was extraordinary. In the 1920s Hardware Age Magazine declared Aid Hardware “The Best Small Town Store in Missouri.” The store closed in 1990 after 105 years of business.
Check out Toney Aid’s “West Plains: 1880 – 1930″ book from Arcadia’s Images of America Series.
Buy it at the Downtown Antique mall or click the photo for a link to the Amazon page.