Bealls Distribution Center
In April of 1915, Robert M. Beall opened a simple dry goods store on Old Main Street in Bradentown Florida. He named it the "Dollar Limit," pricing nothing over a dollar. R.M. Beall invested his money in merchandise and little else. When the first good arrived from the North, he recycled their wooden packing cases, turning them upside down to use as display tables. The twenty-two year old saw opportunity in the fast growing pioneer community. His location was just steps from the docks where daily steamers brought passengers and freight from Tampa.
MOVING ON UP
Manatee County was growing fast with new farms and groves springing up and more visitors filling the few wooden boarding houses and hotels each winter season. The Dollar Limit Store thrived. Due to post World War I inflation, R.M. renamed his store the "V Dollar Limit" in 1920. The Florida Boom of the 1920's transformed Bradentown. Tall luxury hotels, new homes and offices sprang up almost overnight. An avid baseball fan, R.M. was responsible for bringing major league baseball to the city. In 1923 the St. Louis Cardinals arrived at what is now McKechnie Field for spring training. In 1924 Bradentown renamed itself Bradenton, and the "V Dollar Limit" moved into a fine new brick store across from the court house. Construction and land speculation reached a fever pitch, only to crash in 1926.
ACHIEVING THE AMERICAN DREAM
In the 1940's America was at War. R.M.'s son Egbert (E.R.) joined the Army shortly after Pearl Harbor. Betty Beall, his high school aged sister, sold war bonds (an early example of telemarketing). Goods were scarce, but the war stimulated the economy. R.M. achieved his goal in 1944, paid off the bank and regained his business. Bealls ads of the period reflect Home Front patriotism. In 1946 E.R. returned from the army to join his father as junior partner in a newly christened Bealls Department Store.
RETAILING OUR WAY INTO THE FUTURE
Conrad Szymanski retired in 2012 after a 32 year career. In 2013 Bealls found new opportunities, with the outlet opening a Los Angeles buying office, and BeallsFlorida.com opening a central fulfillment center to handle its burgeoning sales. The outlet entered the online retail channel with the launch of burkesoutlet.com in 2014. In 2014 the Bealls company and family foundations exceeded the 7$ million mark in scholarships and donations since its inception. Meanwhile Bunulu, a new store concept, was under development for a 2015 debut, exactly 100 years after the Dollar Limit opened. Today, Bealls Inc., still headquartered in Bradenton, operates across Florida and the Southern states. One hundred years have witnessed unimaginable change, and contribution of thousands of good people. Today the Bealls team continues to build on a legacy of excellence every day. The vision of the young entrepreneur, arriving in Bradentown a century ago, lives on