SMART Centre Market is moving to a new, bigger space in downtown Wheeling early in 2023. And their business’s move forward came with an unexpected trip backward in time.

SMART Centre Market owners Libby and Robert Strong purchased the former Goodwin Drug Company building in late 2022. Since the purchase, the Strongs have been revisiting years gone by as they sort through a trove of delightful treasures left behind by the wholesale drug firm when the business closed its doors in 2017. “Time-capsule-like hidden treasures, many appearing untouched by the passage of time, were found on the high wooden shelves on all four floors of the structure,” Libby Strong told Weelunk. These items were commonly found in local drug stores between the 1920s and 1990s. Some of these collectors’ items are available for purchase at the SMART Centre Market’s store at 30 – 22nd Street in Wheeling. 

  • Current location of the SMART Center, located in Centre Market. (Photo by Ellen McCroskey).

The Goodwin Drug Company moved into the property at 1410 Main Street in 1921, nearly a century ago. At that time, the wholesale distributor was the largest supplier of prescription and over-the-counter drugs and various other health/beauty and miscellaneous sundries in the state of West Virginia. Goodwin Drug sold their wares to drug stores all over the Ohio Valley, including areas in Ohio and Pennsylvania. 

Check out a few of the fascinating items that have been perfectly preserved at the Goodwin Drug Company for decades!

Polaroid Sunglasses

The Strongs discovered dozens of pairs of groovy eyewear which likely date back to the 1960s. Included in the find were men’s, women’s and children’s shades of various shapes and colors, including some in the psychedelic pink and green popular during the summer of love and beyond. Strong noted that these were very popular as holiday gifts. “We made our mortgage payment last month just by selling these and some of the other items!” Strong marveled.

Photo courtesy of Libby Strong.

Sheaffer Stylist Ballpoint Pens

Somewhat surprisingly, pens of all types were also among the finds in the Goodwin building. Strong shared that she was surprised at the number of pens, sunglasses and children’s toys that were found among the medicines and cosmetics. She noted that today, we don’t typically think of pens, toys and sunglasses as being drug store items, but in the days before superstores like Walmart, these were things consumers would purchase at their neighborhood drug counter. This fact was confirmed for the Strongs recently while watching an old episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” where a wide shot of Mayberry’s drug store revealed both sunglasses and pens.

Photo courtesy of Libby Strong.

Winx Mascara

Women have attempted to darken their eyelashes since ancient Egyptian times, with many early formulations of mascara consisting of petroleum jelly and coal dust1. These cosmetics did the trick but proved to be quite messy. More modern forerunners of today’s mascaras gained popularity as women began to emulate the Hollywood stars of the day who were wearing them. One of the earliest versions available was a cake mascara in a compact with a small brush applicator. This Winx mascara compact likely dates back to the 1950s.

Photo courtesy of Libby Strong.

Hazel Bishop Lipstick, Nail Polish and Cosmetics

Hazel Bishop was an American chemist whose most renowned accomplishment was the invention of an innovative long-lasting lipstick first released in 1950. The Strongs salvaged dozens of tubes of Bishop’s lipstick in two different types of packaging – traditional tubes and “Golden Bullet” tubes. “I opened a big box and couldn’t imagine why there would be so many bullets in it!” said Strong. Closer inspection revealed that the “bullets” were actually very realistic lipstick containers. Also found in the Hazel Bishop haul were nail polishes and other vanity cosmetics pictured below.

Photo courtesy of Libby Strong.

Howdy Doody Children’s Bubble Bath

The Howdy Doody Show was a pioneering kids’ TV show. Broadcast on NBC from 1947 – 1960, it featured Buffalo Bob and his puppet sidekick, Howdy Doody. These popular characters were promoted in a broad merchandising campaign aimed at children. Products featuring Howdy Doody included cereal, books, toys, clothing and even the bubble bath shown here.

Photo courtesy of Libby Strong.

Vintage Gift Wrap Sets

A number of sets of vintage Christmas wrapping paper complete with tags and ribbons were also among the finds made by the Strongs. 

Photo courtesy of Libby Strong.

Odds & Ends

Other fun discoveries not pictured include a Little Pete dog figurine air freshener; baby products such as plastic pants and teething ointment; and pretty metal dinner plates and matching coasters featuring various floral designs. There were also a variety of brands of laxatives – “Soooo many laxatives!” Strong laughed. Box after box of feminine napkins of assorted brand names were also uncovered. There were relatively few drugs remaining in the building; most of the products were health and beauty items along with a selection of soda fountain supplies. Also found were boxes of Burma Shave brushless shaving cream made famous in the 1950s by its advertising campaign featuring adjacent roadside signs. Strong said that most of the goods were produced regionally from New York to Florida and east of the Mississippi River. But one product seems to have been made even closer to home – based on its brand name, this Fort Henry Brand of bicarbonate soda may have been made in Wheeling. However, the Strongs have been unable to find any history on this product. If you have knowledge regarding Fort Henry Brand products or would like to browse the items for sale, please visit the SMART Center or contact the Strongs via Facebook.

Photo courtesy of Libby Strong.

As the Strongs continue to rehabilitate the future home of the SMART Center, they believe that there are still plenty of hidden gems left to uncover. Stay tuned! 

• Ellen Brafford McCroskey is a lifelong resident of Wheeling and a proud graduate of Wheeling Park High School, where she discovered her love of writing as a member of the yearbook staff. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management at the former Wheeling Jesuit College. By day, she utilizes that degree at the international law firm where she is employed. After work, you can find her relaxing with family, friends, and her clowder of cats.

References

1 “History of Mascara – Invention of the Mascara.” Mascara History – Who invented Mascara? Accessed January 5, 2023. http://www.historyofcosmetics.net/history-of-makeup/history-of-mascara/.

 

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