Bell’s Hardware, Fortsonia

Frank Fortson shared this wonderful history: “[This was] Guy Bell’s Hardware Store. The original store was just the left section. Mr. Bell later added the smaller attached section on the right, which was used by various businesses over the years (laundromat, game room, craft store). The hardware store had, what appeared to be a LOT of items, to me as a kid. Everything from baseball gloves (where I bought two) to hardware, plus just about every needed item except groceries and gas. There were stairs in the center of the store about 2/3rds way back that took you to the furniture area. In that area, he sold couches, beds, dressers, etc. Mr. Bell and his store were very popular during its day. I can remember sitting on the front steps about age 10, drinking a cold Coke from his cooler, pouring peanuts into the Coke. I also remember when Mr. Bell started selling the larger (than 6 oz) Cokes, as the price went from 5 to 7 cents. I don’t know the build date for the store, but it existed before the mid 1940s.Jane (my first cousin) and John Coleman now own the store. It has been inactive for many years.Behind the store, in the early 1900s, my grandfather ran a sawmill (among other enterprises). I suspect that the wood used to construct the northernmost store [Gilmer’s Grocery] came from that sawmill.

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