While we are in the early stages of regaining access to all of our local businesses, our Throwback Thursday feature this week, takes a look at the way some of Sanford’s most venerable businesses marketed themselves decades ago in print advertising. A few names have long-ago disappeared into the annals of history; others will still be very familiar, beginning with this ad for Lee Builder Mart from 1978. This long-standing company served contractors, construction companies, builders, DIY-ers and the like for over six decades.
1978 was a notable year in county education, as all of the area’s high schools — Broadway, Sanford Central, Deep River and Greenwood — merged to create Lee County Senior High School.
Here’s a yearbook ad from “the new high school” that features another of Sanford’s long-time family owned businesses. Founded as the ad notes in 1935, the company is still family-owned and operated, proudly based in downtown Sanford, and now known as Harris & Company Insurance.
While we’re in yearbook mode, let’s travel back yet another 20 years to 1958. Here’s a yearbook ad from Sanford Central High School, that promotes a long-standing business that has contributed to Sanford’s history as “The Brick Capital.” Published over six decades ago for the Sanford Brick & Tile Company, though the business has “Sanford” in its name, this operation has always been based in Colon on the outskirts of town. The company is now owned by General Shale, and officially goes by the name of Cherokee Sanford Brick.
The Fairview name is known for good eating in Sanford. Our next advertisement is for the Fairview Restaurant from 1949. This popular dining establishment opened in the mid-1930s as an extension of the original Fairview Dairy. Its reference to 24 hour service and the “best food between New York and Miami” are a reflection of the days when US 1 was the major north-south highway on the east coast, and traversed right through downtown Sanford. Many businesses like the Fairview, made a good living from long-distance travelers until the interstate highway system began to take shape in the 1950s. The present-day Fairview Dairy Bar, opened in 1954 and honors the legacy of this legendary name.
The next stop on our travels through advertisements of the past, with a newspaper ad from the 1930s for Efirds Department Store. Based in Charlotte, the Efirds chain had several stores in the Carolinas and Virginia in its prime, including a very popular store on Steele Street in downtown Sanford in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. A 2-story department store, one of its quirks was that whenever a purchase was made on the second floor, the money and merchandise were lowered in a basket to the store cashier, who was based on the ground floor. Efirds maintained a contemporary fashion-focused image and used the tagline, “Meet Your Friends At Efirds” for many years.
Sanford has also been the home of a few soft drink bottling companies for several decades.
Associated Distributors was based in downtown Sanford on Chatham Street for a number of years and produced a handful of brands that had a modest degree of popularity in their time, but ceased existence well over 50 years ago. Zimba Kola (with a “K”) featured in this newspaper ad from 1943, Big Boy Cola and Nesbit Orange Soda were their most notable products.
Editorial content, pictures and research background, compliments of Jimmy Haire and Images of America: Sanford and Lee County, by Jimmy Haire & W.W. Seymour, Jr, available here for purchase. All book proceeds go to Sanford’s Railroad House Historical Association, Inc.