Historic Markers Across Florida

Bealls Centennial

Marker ID:  
Location: on 12th Street SW (old Main Street) and 3rd Avenue W., Bradenton, FL
County: Manatee
Coordinates: N 27° 29.833    W 082° 34.408
  27.49721666    -82.57346666
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMRKV3


Bealls Centennial

Side 1
In April of 1915, twenty-two year old Robert M. Beall opened a simple dry goods store on this block of Old Main Street. Pricing nothing over a dollar, he named it the Dollar Limit. Beall invested his money in merchandise so when the goods arrived from suppliers he recycled the wooden packing cases, turning them upside down for use as display tables.

The store location was just steps from the docks where steamboats brought passengers and freight from Tampa each day. Manatee County was growing fast, with new farms and groves springing up and visitors filling the few boarding houses and hotels each winter season. The Dollar Limit thrived. Due to inflation in the wake of World War I, Beall had to raise prices and so he renamed his store the V Dollar Limit in 1920. A tireless civic booster, in 1923 he was instrumental in bringing the St. Louis Cardinals, the first major league baseball team to Bradenton for spring training.

Side 2
In 1924, the V Dollar Limit moved into a fine new brick store on Manatee Avenue across from the courthouse. In 1932, following the Real Estate and Stock Market crashes of 1926 and 1929, Robert Beall lost his store to the bank. He stayed on as manager and throughout the Great Depression he tirelessly saved his money in hopes of someday being able to buy the business back. He achieved that goal in 1944.

Two years later his son E.R., after serving in the army, joined his father as junior partner in the newly christened Beall's Department Store. In 1956, E.R. opened a new store in Bradenton's first shopping center which was located at the corner of 39th Street and Manatee Avenue.

Today Bealls, Inc., still headquartered in Bradenton, operates stores numbering in the hundreds across Florida and the southern states.