Clematis Street today, the main artery of Downtown West Palm Beach, is thriving. But between bottle service at Monarchy and $32 margarita pitchers at Rocco’s Tacos, it’s an easy place to drop some cash. It wasn’t, however, always that way…
Once upon a time, much could be had on Clematis Street for no more than a single solitary dollar bill. Yup, a buck back in the old days went an awfully long way. If you needed a pair of ladies bloomers, they could be bought on sale for a dollar. A gallon Thermos Jug? Also a dollar. Silk vests, pajamas, leather shoes, and all sorts of fabric all could be bought on sale for a dollar. Men’s and ladies hats, Ginghams, bed sheets, overalls, union suits, and men’s dress shirts (collar included) could all be purchased at Gruner’s Department Store on Clematis Street, back in September 1929, for no more than a hundred pennies if you caught the right sale.
By 1929, Gruner’s had been at their Clematis location for 16 years already, and they knew how to throw a pretty spectacular sale. But no great deal lasts forever. The stock market would crash just a month after Gruner’s threw one of their fantastic dollar sales, and the value of that currency would, as history has taught us, be altered forever. Gruner’s would ultimately leave that location, but, as luck would have it, the dollar deals there would survive.
Around the start of World War II, The West End Barber Shop and Cleaners took up residence in the building formerly occupied by Gruner’s, and the tradition would thankfully continue. West End would clean and press four pairs of pants for you, once again for a dollar.
By the time the West End Barber Shop moved on, dollar deals on Clematis were surely becoming harder to come by. Today, you can all but forget about it. A dollar at Pistache or Bradley’s, for instance, certainly won’t take you far. But before you let this little blurb depress you, take solace in the fact that there is still a place on Clematis Street where a dollar will buy you a handful of fun. And, as it happens, that deal can still be had in the very same building once occupied by Gruner’s Department Store and the West End Barber Shop.
Where, you ask? Why, at 518 Clematis Street, home to none other than Respectable Street Café, where $1 will still buy you a can of icy cold Pabst Blue Ribbon on an occasional Thursday night. And that, my friends, is pretty cool.