Cheapside: quality items at low prices

Elizabeth Hall
A Walk Through History 

Dr. Herman L. Cook called for tenders on May 7, 1886, to build a new brick building in downtown Napanee after fire had destroyed some of the existing buildings.

Completed in October 1886, the new building had four stores on the ground floor, two of which were occupied by Hinch and Co., one by Perry and Madole and another by W.H. Bruton.

The building became known as “Cheapside” because it was known for having good quality items at low costs. But, in 1892, another fire started in the second storey of the building and burned through into the stores below. Hinch and Co. and Cheapside were closed until the damage could be fixed.

Started by Ogden Hinch, Hinch and Co. were importers and dealers in dry goods, carpets, millinery, general house furnishings and furs. It was seen as the largest and best appointed dry goods establishment in Central Ontario. The main floor was for the general dry goods and millinery business, but it also had an office and a vault that had burglar proof doors. The manufacturing departments were on the second flat and the basement was furnished the same as the first flat, with the back half being used for their large fur department. It was also used as the carpets and curtains department, as well as other house furnishings. It was heated and lit by incandescent lights and fitted with the Lamson Cash Railway system (a system invented to make it easier to transport money through the store). They were said to have one of the best millinery and dressmaking departments in Ontario, had a large ordered clothing trade, and carried on an enormous business in furs. Most of the fur goods were manufactured in the store by the firm, which played a big part in their products being so low in cost.

Random History Fact: The Greek philosopher Socrates educated the Greek philosopher Plato, who then educated Aristotle, another famous Greek philosopher. Alexander the Great of Macedonia was later tutored by Aristotle.

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