135,000 Cigarettes Worth How Much?

101-109 William St 05-30-2015I was curious about a big brick building at the southwest corner of William and South Main (or Water Street, depending on how you look at it). It has an “old” look to it, and an intriguing set of doors marked 101, 103, 105 and 109. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

My first stop was the search box in The Southeast Missourian.

Almost the Discovery Playhouse

101-109 William St 05-30-2015In 2007, there was a bunch of buzz that the Discovery Playhouse was going to locate there after moving from West Park Mall. Whether or not they actually moved in, I don’t know. The Playhouse is currently in the old Walther Furniture Store and Funeral Home at 502 Broadway.

The 1968 City Directory assigned Biederman Furniture Company warehouse to the 101 address, with no mention of the other bays.

In 1979, 101 was listed as vacant, and Murakami Auto Service was in Bay 103.

The Great Snow Storm Cigarette Burglary

101-109 William St 05-30-2015The most interesting story was in the January 14, 1931, Southeast Missourian: “Taking advantage of the cover afforded by a blinding snowstorm, burglars Tuesday night broke into and looted the Goddard Grocer Co. building at 101 William street, of 135,000 cigarettes.”

What’s the value of 135,000 smokes?

The cigarettes were valued at about $900. Thirteen cases of Lucky Strike and Camel brands of cigarettes were taken, and about 5,000 cigarettes of miscellaneous brands were missing, the story said.

Sam’s Club in Cape is selling a carton of 200 Camel cigarettes for $43.25. That would make the 1931 haul worth about $29,193 today.

Goddard Grocer Co. was a favorite shopping spot for burglars. It was hit at least 10 times in a few years. Approximately the same amount of cigarettes were taken in a break-in on January 25, 1930. Three men who broke into Goddard Grocer, Buckner-Ragsdale Clothing Store and Kinder Drug Store on that night were sent to prison for terms ranging from four to six years.


7 Replies to “135,000 Cigarettes Worth How Much?”

  1. That building was rail-served by the Frisco in 1931 as the Central Cash & Carry Grocery, a wholesale grocery firm according to the 1931 Sanborn Fire Insurance map. The rail spur crossed Water Street just north of Good Hope and ran north along the west side of Water Street, ending at the large door on the east side of the building.

  2. Seeing the Biederman Furniture Store name took me back to its opening. It was ushered in with a blitz of advertising that Cape had probably never seen before, big city style.,

  3. No question in my mind this building housed the old Cape Grocers Assn. back in the mid to late 1950’s. I don’t recall the multiple bays at that time, but distinctly remember backing our 1955 Ford Ranch Wagon up to a bay where the employees would load up cases of merchandise for resale at our mom and pop grocery store just north of the city limits on the Big Bend Road. The city limit line was of importance to me as I could legally sell fireworks like cherry bombs and M-80’s that were not legal within the city.

    At that time, there was another wholesale grocery business on Main Street just north of Broadway whose name has dropped from memory.

  4. My dad actually owned that building for a short period of time. It was also (as I recall) owned in partnership with my uncle Charles Bahn, MD. For a very brief period of time I actually “ran” a sewing machine shop out of the front office area of that building. I think it may have been a make-work program for me, but I do recall being there, for a very brief time. We knew it as the Biederman Warehouse. Dad also leased part of the building to Murakami (that’s the only name we knew him by), from which he operated his car repair shop.

  5. Cousin David is correct that my dad Charles Bahn and uncle Louis Bahn owned that building I believe in the late 70’s or very early 80’s. I remember spending a few weeks one summer with my friend Tom Rickard helping him tuck-point and repair much of the brickwork to get the outside of the building “back in shape”.

  6. I spent many happy Saturdays in that building when it was the Cash and Carry warehouse. Daddy worked for Meyer-Albert Wholesale Grocers in the first block of Main Street, north of Broadway. Usually around New Year’s he’d have to take inventory in that warehouse. I got to roam all over the building while he was there and loved seeing the huge fabric bags of dried beans. It was another world in the early 1950s.

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