Montevallo Grocery Co.
Upon relocating the headquarters of his various businesses to the Kroell building in 1932 and getting his Montevallo Grocery Co. established and operating, the new owner, J. A. Brown began to build a strong customer base for his new food and feed store. It was not long before he was thriving in his prime commercial location on Main Street where the Kroell building had been an institution for decades. Things were going so well that he even purchased another smaller grocery store on Middle Street. Brown’s Ice and Cotton Ginning businesses were booming and it seemed that the sky was the limit for Montevallo’s preeminent entrepreneur.
But J. A. Brown’s days of prosperity and glory took an abrupt left turn with the first of two fire-related disasters that struck one of his businesses in 1937. The large warehouse near the Southern Railroad depot that was integral to his cotton ginning operation caught fire and was a total loss. While this was not enough of a set-back to completely cripple Mr. Brown’s various commercial endeavors, it was severe enough to bring him to place an an open letter to his many customers the following week in the Montevallo Times. In the letter, he apprised them of the difficult spot he suddenly found himself in and appealed to those who owed him money to come to his aid in this time of need, much as he had done for them when they were in need of credit themselves.
From all indications, it appears that J. A. Brown was able to weather the fire of 1937 and continue to successfully operate his various business interests. Montevallo Grocery continued to thrive in the Kroell building and Mr. Brown’s latest venture, the canvas bag factory, which he had located on the premises, was productive, doing well, and providing jobs to the community. The war years of 1942 – 1945 were difficult on all Americans and the citizens of Montevallo were no exception. With the coming of peacetime, war rationing, along with material and resource restrictions, were lifted, so the victory over Germany and Japan seemed to promise nothing but good times ahead on Main Street for J. A. Brown. But in October of 1946, nearly ten years after enduring the cotton warehouse conflagration, a debilitating fire struck again. This time it was in the Kroell building, home of Montevallo Grocery, the Alabama Bag and Tie Co., and where Mr. Brown’s offices and business records were now housed.
We’ll let the local newspaper coverage tell the rest of the story:
Thank you Clay Nordan, Vice President of Montevallo Historical Society, for this information!