Remembering York Arms..........

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Bob Wright

Hawkeye
Joined
Jun 24, 2004
Messages
6,675
Location
Memphis, TN USA
I don't know when York Arms Sporting Goods was founded, but it was a fixture on Main Street in Memphis for many, many years. It was located next to the Loew's State theatre, and had the old fashioned glass storefront with big display windows. The windows created an alcove so folks could wait for streetcars sheltered from the rain. There was an entry door on either side of the main display window. Inside was sort of dark, with dark wooden floors and glass display cases. Over the gun counter was a huge double barrel shotgun, maybe twenty feet in length, as a display.

Stroies were thick there. It was here that Nash Buckinham and Berry Brooks outfitted themselves. Wealthy hunters, from Memphis' Cotton Row, started their safaris from York Arms. And, most high school football and baseball teams, got their equipment here, soccer being an alien game at that time.

Down the street from York arms was a liquor store, the main display being a bald eagle that was shot over Main Street by a customer leaving York Arms and heading for the latter store. The eagle was supposedly shot just south of the Orpheum Theatre, at one time known as the Malco.

The store was as much museum as store, with animal heads adorning the walls. I remember one moose head that must have been nearly six feet from back of the head to blubbery nose. It stood over one of those penny scales that gave your weight printed out on a card along with your fortune.

Bass Pro, Cabelas, Sportsman's Warehouse, ya'll don't even come close.

Bob Wright

P.S. I mentioned the proximity to the Loew's theatre and failed to follow up on that. When the Jimmy Stewart movie "Winchester '73" debuted in Memphis, at the Loew's State, next door neighbor York Arms displayed a Winchester 1873 rifle in its main show window during its run. It was authentic, there being no replica arms in those days.
 

10MMGary

Single-Sixer
Joined
Jun 15, 2005
Messages
111
Location
Brandon Florida USA
WOW what a picture you just painted in my minds eye, thanks for doing so. I have visited stores similar to the one you so aptly described and wish they still existed today. The most interesting gun store and owner I had the good fortune to visit was Harry Beckwith's in Micanopy FL. Sadly Harry is gone now but fortunately his store is still open for business.

Check out this true story about Harry,

http://www.gunowners.org/op0730.htm
 

Critch

Single-Sixer
Joined
Aug 30, 2000
Messages
329
Location
Poplar Bluff, MO, USA
I used to get shooed out of that store when I was a little kid. My mother was a waitress at the Cavalier Restaurant in the Gayosa Hotel. I used to hang around and wait for her to get off and we would ride the bus home. My dad worked at a Bear Wheel Alignment and Brake Shop that I think was up on Crump Blvd at the time.
 

Lila

Bearcat
Joined
Jun 2, 2012
Messages
2
Hi everybody, i'm new here :)

Just thought i would give a little update. My name is Lila York, my Grandpa Vernon York and his Brother Cordra used to own York Arms. I was there every day as a little girl - I would take inventory, help customers etc from about age 3. I'm sure I was a most obnoxious and pretentious brat - telling everyone why they should and shouldn't buy this or that gun. :)

Grandpa made me my first custom made rifle and I was lucky enough to get to try out just about every weapon I wished to from the store!

I remember the trophys well *there were even more in our houses* and the huge elephant tusks over the front doors. I wish I had a picture from the old place!

Thanks for bringing back wonderful memories :)
 

Bob Wright

Hawkeye
Joined
Jun 24, 2004
Messages
6,675
Location
Memphis, TN USA
Well, thanks for the update, and joing in!

You still in Memphis? And do you remember who did the gunsmithing in the latter days? He was the one who did my first custom work on an old Colt New Service?

Bob Wright
 

Lila

Bearcat
Joined
Jun 2, 2012
Messages
2
why thank you Viking Queen! as along time lover of rugers, this is a happy meeting :)
 

BBOB662

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 22, 2015
Messages
58
Location
North MS
York Arms surrendered its state charter summer of 1978 after being in business "39 years 8 months". So I'd guess it opened in 1939-40. I only made it to main street location a few times as a child. My haunt was the Whitehaven store in late '60s ("Sarge" was the manager here) with occasional trip to the Summer Ave. location what was then the main store. Ole Man York; Coudra Jr. & yes, the wooden double, & trophy mounts.

You're not the Bob Wright from the SCSO range in '74 are you?
 

Jim Puke

Hunter
Joined
Jul 9, 2013
Messages
3,088
Location
South Georgia
Good post Bob...sounds like a great place.

Bass Pro, Cabelas, Sportsman's Warehouse, ya'll don't even come close.

I don't think that is in their mission statement as it was not in York's to offer the depth and breadth of supplies offered by Bass Pro, Cabelas, Sportsman's Warehouse.
 

George Tucker

Blackhawk
Joined
Jan 3, 2004
Messages
617
Location
Asotin Washington USA
Not to hijack. Critch, the Bear equipment was the best ever made, they still use it in Lewiston Idaho. I had my Ford Pickup lined up on the new Digital equipment, it drove terrible, took it to G&A wheel and Frame, they put it on the Bear Machine, been seven yrs and it still drives great, George. And Welcome LiLa.
 

Jeepnik

Hawkeye
Joined
Dec 16, 2005
Messages
5,858
Location
On the beach and in the hills
More reasons I like this forum. You meet the nicest people, and learn all sorts of stuff. When I quit meeting nice folks and learning stuff, every day, it'll be time to check out. Life is a pretty fun ride. Nice folks make it even funner.
 

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