Columnist: Locals remember Mansour’s

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 27, 2016

Rich Simpson

Contributing columnist

For most of the 20th century, and a few years into the 21st century, Mansour’s department store served the citizens of LaGrange and surrounding area from their location at 26 W. Lafayette Square, formerly West Court Square.

The Mansour family ran this iconic LaGrange clothing store with style, class and a keen sense of how to treat people while running a business.

The building has stood empty for a few years, since its closing seven years ago. In a matter of days, the building will be leveled to make room for a new hotel. This brings to the surface deep feelings from former shoppers, employees and Mansour family members.

Mansour’s gave shoppers a strong, positive sense of community.

Delores Moore Clark:

“Loved that store and the people working there, especially Joe Pattillo, who was my husband’s step father. They carried Villager and Bobbi Brooks, and in high school, I loved shopping for these brands.”

Nan Motley:

“My mother loved shopping in Mansour’s.”

Former shoppers not only remember the overall shopping experience, they remember certain aspects that stand out in their minds.

Sherrel Houze Bidne:

“How many remember buying shoes (Buster Browns) in there and sticking your feet in this box (machine) that X-rayed your feet to make sure your shoes were the right size. When you looked through the view finder you could see the bones of your feet inside your shoes and it was green inside.”

Danny Floyd:

“When we shopped at Mansour’s we knew we were Uptown LaGrange!”

Janet Newman:

“I remember Mrs. Mansour, sitting on her stool, in the middle of the store, behind the counter.”

Kit Whitner Newlin:

“I remember the Buster Brown X-ray Shoe Fitter … it showed your foot bones … cool and also kinda creepy. Awesome shoe department!!!”

Certainly, there was the social angle.

Marty Mitchell:

“Everybody shopped there so you always saw someone you knew.”

Headed off to college.

Janette Geter Wilkerson:

“I’m not sure that I had an article of clothing when I left for UGA that had not come from Manour’s. I probably had every Villager outfit that they carried and the tassel loafers to go with them. Did anyone ever go in the front door? We parked in the back, walked past the children’s clothes and up the steps. By the time you got to the shoe department in the back, George, Nasor and Alfred all had called you by name.

In my early years, Mrs. Mansour was behind the counter toward the back. When I got to the top of the stairs, my clothes were on the left. Mom and Dad gave me permission to buy my own clothes when I started driving, and I remember just taking things to the desk with no card and just telling them to charge to my parents. I still have the mink jackets that Dad bought for me and Mom. They are memories hanging in the coat closet. If only shopping were that easy and had the same customer service now! We were very blessed by the Mansour family.”

Memories linger.

Susan Hammett Poole:

“Every time I drive to town, I see the empty building which housed the late great Mansour’s Department Store, my favorite store for clothing and shoes for 50 years. I have fond memories of shopping there with my mother, then with my sons. Soon, this wonderful store will be torn down, another part of our LaGrange history gone. I have several distinct memories.

My Grandmother Hammett told me about walking downtown during the 1920s and seeing Mr. Nasor Mansour Sr. sitting in a wooden chair outside the front door of Mansour’s Racket Shop “hawking” socks and shoes, saying, “Come on in, little Mama, and buy your child a new pair of shoes.” His wife, Mrs. Mary Mansour, was inside taking care of customers. Although she was a petite lady, many people called her “Big Mama.” She was a neatly dressed woman with perfectly coiffured hair, and she ruled the roost!”

The Mansour family put their heart and soul into the business:

Martha Mansour Collinger:

“Rich, this is a tough one! Very sad for me to see the Mansour’s building being torn down! My grandfather and grandmother bought it in 1917 (the Racket Store) and each generation after — my dad, uncles, brothers and cousins — strived to give the community the best! They were dedicated to keeping the business downtown when approached about moving to the mall. They all loved LaGrange and the people of LaGrange and would be happy to know that the old building will bring growth and continued ambiance to the city!

My best memories are of my Bigmama (Miss Mary)! She was the matriarch of the business and was way ahead of her time! Worked every day and ran that cash register with precision! Trained all of her grandchildren to work the registers, wrap packages, give change, write sales tickets, wait on customers and do it all with a smile! She hated to see good merchandise put on sale! She kept everyone in line!

Every morning my dad would stand at the front door and greet each employee as they entered! They were our extended family as well as the customers! I often wondered how many hands my dad shook in his life time. For years it was a crossroads of business and pleasure for patrons and family alike. The likes of which I doubt will ever be experienced again in today’s age of Cyber commerce!

Thank you Rich for writing about ‘the store’ as we called it! It means a lot to me to know that all the sacrifices and hard work my family put into the business is not forgotten.”

Folks, I think it would be nice to pay tribute to the Mansour family by naming the dining area/restaurant/banquet room in the new hotel “The Mansour Room,” keeping the name alive and the Southern hospitality shining through.

Rich Simpson is a former LaGrange resident and a LaGrange High graduate who worked 42 years in radio. He may be reached at