Watson's (United States)

Last updated
Ira A. Watson Co.
Industry Retail
FateBought out by Peebles
Successor Peebles
Headquarters Knoxville, Tennessee, United States
Productsapparel, home furnishings

Ira A. Watson Co., more commonly known as Watson's was a department store chain based in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States. It was founded in 1907 and grew to many locations throughout the Southeastern United States. The company was purchased for $4.45 million by Peebles with the transaction closing June 29, 1998. [1]

Department store Retail establishment; building which offers a wide range of consumer goods

A department store is a retail establishment offering a wide range of consumer goods in different product categories known as "departments". In modern major cities, the department store made a dramatic appearance in the middle of the 19th century, and permanently reshaped shopping habits, and the definition of service and luxury. Similar developments were under way in London, in Paris and in New York.

Knoxville, Tennessee City in Tennessee, United States

Knoxville is a city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Knox County. The city had an estimated population of 186,239 in 2016 and a population of 178,874 as of the 2010 census, making it the state's third largest city after Nashville and Memphis. Knoxville is the principal city of the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area, which, in 2016, was 868,546, up 0.9 percent, or 7,377 people, from to 2015. The KMSA is, in turn, the central component of the Knoxville-Sevierville-La Follette Combined Statistical Area, which, in 2013, had a population of 1,096,961.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.



Expanding from the original operation, the company opened a group of downtown stores in county seat towns. As shopping centers and malls developed, Watson's opened substantially larger stores in those locations. Operations grew from a single location in Knoxville, Tennessee to numerous locations in Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois. The merchandise was purchased and distributed to all of the Watson's stores from the centralized warehouse located at the corporate offices in Knoxville.

A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or civil parish. The term is used in Canada, China, Romania, Taiwan and the United States. County towns have a similar function in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, and historically in Jamaica.

The company hit hard times in the late 1980s and eventually filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in February 1992 when they were unable to renew bank financing. At the time of the filing, the company operated 31 stores in nine states. The courts approved a reorganization plan for the company to emerge from Chapter 11 in 6 years. Profitability improved and Watson's emerged from Chapter 11 in about half of the anticipated time though the company never fully recovered. Through a series of lackluster upper management hires in the early to late '90's, the company continued its downward spiral. In the end, the company that prospered by selling goods in remote areas of the southeast where competitors were few, could not compete with the new Walmart and Goodys Family Clothing stores as these companies began to build in markets that were once considered too small. Watson's business model was viable no longer.

Watson's was purchased in June 1998 by Peebles, a then privately held retailer based in South Hill, Virginia. At that time, Watson's became a wholly owned subsidiary of Peebles. All Watson's stores were converted to Peebles a year later. The former Watson's Knoxville Distribution Center at 200 Hayfield Road continues to serve as one of two warehouses for the Peebles chain. Peebles was purchased by Houston, Texas-based Specialty Retailers in 2003.

Peebles (store)

Peebles is a United States chain of department stores owned by Stage Stores, Inc. and headquartered in Houston, Texas.

South Hill, Virginia Town in Virginia, United States

South Hill is a town in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, United States. The population was 4,403 at the 2000 census. Located on major Interstate and U.S. highways, it has a full-service hospital, a tobacco market, and several hotels. South Hill has a close relationship with the neighboring town of La Crosse. Lake Gaston, a large reservoir popular with boaters and fishermen, is a short distance to the southwest.

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