Friday, March 04, 2005

Proffitt's - faces change, ideals remain

A heart-warming history of Proffitt's. The Golden Rule helped this chain grow, and now it's part of the Saks conglomerate.
"He was an incredible promoter,'' Piper said of the store founder. Piper recalls hearing stories about how D.W. would climb to the second story roof at the downtown Maryville Proffitt's at Thanksgiving and throw live turkeys to the crowds waiting below. There are pictures of hundreds of people crowding the street in anticipation of getting one of the holiday birds.

"That was during the Depression,'' Piper said. "That meant something to people.''

D.W. was also head of the draft board in Blount County during World War II. Piper said every Blount County solider who fought in the war received a hand-written letter from D.W. The founder also helped finance college educations for locals at Maryville College.

Piper said he was driving a delivery truck for Proffitt's back many years ago and a man stopped him and told Piper he never shopped anywhere but Proffitt's. That was because D.W. gave him a suit off the rack when the soldier came back from the war and needed one for job interviews. The man never forgot D.W.'s kindness.

"He didn't do things to get credit for them,'' Piper said. ``He did them because it was the right thing to do.''

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