301 North Fifth St.
Alpine, TX 79830

Photo by Meador, Alpine Avalanche
From The Archives of the Big Bend

History of C. G. Morrison Co.

September 13, 2008, C. G. Morrison Company, True Value of Alpine, Texas, celebrated its 80th year of business in Alpine, and it was 120 years, 4 months and 20 days since Charles Glenn Morrison, founder of C. G. Morrison Company was born in Pulaski, Tennessee on April 24, 1888. He married Gladys E. Sawyer in Nacogdoches, Texas on August 28, 1918. Gladys was born on September 9, 1892, in Livingston, Texas. When they married, Charles was 30 years old and Gladys was 25.

An October 14, 1927, news report states that C. G. Morrison was residing in Midland, Texas, and had just visited Alpine looking for a location for a new variety store. On February 24, 1928, the Alpine Avalanche reported that C. G. Morrison would be opening a new store in Alpine. The article also mentioned Morrison had stores in "Midland, Big Spring, and other places," and that he had leased the south side of the Turner building in Alpine. The Turner building is a small group of buildings on north Sixth Street behind a larger building on the north east corner of Sixth and Holland. Today the larger building is occupied by "Mis Jen's Closet", and was the location of Watson Jewelers for many years. At the time C. G. Morrison moved to town it was a drug store.

Morrison had looked at other locations around the country and chose Alpine for the prospects of future business "but also by reason of the obvious civic pride of the citizenship which makes Alpine a good place in which to live..."

March 2, 1928, it was reported that Otis Turner was adding two more 18 x 36 foot buildings adjacent to the existing building which was leased to Morrison. That would have been on the north side, up to the alley between Holland Ave. and Avenue E.

March 16, 1928, The Avalanche reported "Novelty Store to Open Tomorrow." according to an announcement by C. G. Morrison. "The new store is one of the Ben Franklin chain of stores operated in West Texas cities." The World Wide Web based "Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia" site, states about the Ben Franklin dime stores, "It was perhaps the first retail franchise, starting in 1927." And so Alpine was the location of one of the earlier Ben Franklin 5 and 10 cent stores with the opening of the C. G. Morrison, Ben Franklin 5 and 10 Cent Variety Store on St. Patrick's Day, March 17th, 1928.

Within two months C. G. Morrison was expanding the store. According to the Alpine Avalanche, May 18, 1928, Morrison was quoted as saying, "Business of the Ben Franklin Store established here a short time ago, has grown to the extent that it is necessary for this institution to expand." So Morrison leased the adjacent space in the Turner building to more than double their floor space to 42 x 70 feet.


C. G. Morrison store circa 1940. Middle of block on left.
Livingston collection
From The Archives of the Big Bend

For the next three years, business continued to be prosperous for C. G. Morrison. Then in 1931 a foretelling event occurred. On July 31, 1931, it is reported in the Avalanche that the Howell's Hardware Store on Holland Avenue was being relocated, and in a separate article that C. G. Morrison would be moving his variety store into the location that Howell's was leaving vacant. While it would be many years before C. G. Morrison Company took its place as the leading hardware store in Alpine, it was a strange coincidence that Morrison's second location would be the space that had been occupied by the leading hardware store of that day. Today that very store space is occupied by Ivy's Emporium. The move from Sixth Street to the Holland Avenue location took about fifteen days and through that time Morrison's never closed their doors and continued to take care of all customers.


C. G. Morrison store circa 1960.
"The Brand" yearbook, Sul Ross State University
From The Archives of the Big Bend


C. G. Morrison store (white building in center) circa late 60's.
Casey collection
From The Archives of the Big Bend

In May of 1935, the Holland Avenue store made significant renovations, modernizing the display windows and laying a new floor at a cost of $600. In January of 1952, Morrison purchased the property and buildings on the north west quarter of the 100 block of north Fifth Street from the Jim P. Wilson Estate. The space that is today occupied by the Trans Pecos Bank. At that time, it included one building at the south end, next to the alley, that had been built in 1888, the same year Morrison was born. The building had been built by W. B. Hancock and was one of the early multi-story buildings in Alpine. It was completed a short time after the County Courthouse and believed to be the second oldest building left standing in Alpine at the time.


100 block North 5th St. Alpine, Texas. Circa 1950
Hunter collection
From The Archives of the Big Bend

At first it housed Mr. Hancock's drug store and the Post Office. W. P. Hancock's father was the Postmaster. The post office later moved to its own building, but in the 1920's that building burned down and the Post Office moved back to the Hancock building. Through its life it housed the Alpine Mercantile Co., owned by Jim P. Wilson, a pioneer cattleman, and later G. W. Martin operated a grocery store there. During World War II it was used by the USO. According to an application for an historic medallion, dated August 20, 1962, the upper story was used for Masonic Organizational Meetings, and more recently served as the location for the Christian Science Church.

For some time prior to Morrison's purchase of this property, C. G. Morrison Company leased this building and another to serve as warehouse and office for the company. By this time C. G. Morrison was operating variety stores in a dozen or more locations throughout Texas and New Mexico.

On August 21, 1953, Charles Glenn Morrison died in his home at age 65 from a heart attack. The business continued, then Mrs. Morrison passed away, after a six month illness, on June 30, 1964 at the age of 71. Having no children themselves, the C. G. Morrison Company ownership and control passed to their nephews, Thad and Robert Corkins.

At some point, the C. G. Morrison Company expanded into wholesale distribution. Morrison built a warehouse and offices at 801 West Holland Avenue. The Alpine Telephone book first shows the Morrison offices to be located there in 1966. GEM Wholesale Company, named for Gladys E. Morrison, was a wholesale distributor of variety goods. They would receive goods by the tractor trailer load and ship orders out by rail cars. GEM Wholesale also added a commercial printing shop. The print shop would print the circulars for their retail variety businesses and also took in other printing jobs for the community. Today this building houses the Alpine City Offices and the Civic Center.


C. G. Morrison store 5th St. and Ave. E
Alpine Avalanche
From The Archives of the Big Bend

On January 18, 1968, C. G. Morrison Company announced plans for a large modern store to be built on the corner of north Fifth Street and Avenue E., the quarter block that had been purchased in 1952. It was the front page story of the Alpine Avalanche that day including a line drawing of the new store.

This newest of the 16 C. G. Morrison stores would be the largest and finest. It would double the previous store's floor space to 10,000 square feet, have 2,500 square feet of covered walkways, parking space for over 50 cars, and have central heating and air conditioning. This recently remodeled building is now the Trans Pecos Bank.

On March 11, 1971, the Alpine Avalanche reported that the C. G. Morrison Company had leased the Smith Building and was remodeling it to open a retail store there in about 60 days. The Smith building had been the home to Smith Furniture for a number of years. It is the building on the north west corner of Fifth Street and Avenue E. and directly across the street north of the C. G. Morrison main store at that time.

In April of 1971, Bob Ward joined C. G. Morrison Company. His first job was opening a store in the Smith building called Morrison Annex. This store became a RadioShack Dealer and later joined True Value Hardware in 1976.

On May 5, 1977, Thad and Robert Corkins divided the company. Robert Corkins took 9 stores and operated the Morrison 5 & 10 cent stores in Alpine and other locations. Thad Corkins took 6 stores with Thad Corkins as President and Bob C. Ward as Vice-President. One of these stores was Morrison True Value Hardware located in the Smith building.

Through the next number of years the branch stores in other cities were sold or closed as leases expired, leaving Morrison True Value, in Alpine, the only C. G. Morrison Company store still operating from the original group of stores.


C. G. Morrison store December 2007.
W. R. Baker
C. G. Morrison Co., Inc. photo

It was in 1982 that C. G. Morrison Company built and moved to its current location in the 300 block of north Fifth Street. The entire west side of the 300 block of Fifth street is Morrison True Value Hardware. It is the main store and offices for the C. G. Morrison Company.

In 1987, C. G. Morrison Co. Inc. was purchased by Bob Ward. In the mid 1990's the hardware store was expanded to over 16,000 square feet of floor space and Just Ask Rental was added to the Morrison's line of services. In March of 1999, Morrison's once again picked up the RadioShack Dealership.


True Value Gardens 2008.
W. R. Baker
C. G. Morrison Co., Inc. photo

After a fire in late 2000 at Baeza's Thriftway grocery store on the east side of Fifth Street across from Morrison's, Baeza rebuilt a large modern grocery store on the far east side of the lot and a smaller building on the north west corner. In June of 2001, C. G. Morrison Company moved their Lawn & garden department into the smaller new building at the previous Baeza's Thriftway location. This 7800 Sq. ft. building is now Morrison True Value Gardens.


Lucy's Christmas Cottage 2004.
W. R. Baker
C. G. Morrison Co., Inc. photo

A small residence at the north west corner of the main store was purchased and on October 16, 2004, Lucy's Christmas Cottage opened as a year round Christmas store, at 106 West Lockhart.

Through those first 80 years, C. G. Morrison Company had seen many stores, many locations, many changes, and many varieties of retail merchandise. In 2008, Bob and Lucy Ward stand proud as the owners of one of Alpine's largest retailers. They support the community by doing as much business as possible locally, by contributing to innumerable civic causes, organizations and activities through monetary contributions, services, hosting store space for fund raising, and many other ways.


For C. G. Morrison Company 80 years of success is no reason to slow down. By providing their community with a clean, modern and well stocked shopping environment for hardware and home goods, and staffing the store with friendly and knowledgeable sales people, the True Value Company awarded C. G. Morrison True Value one of 13 "True Value Best Hardware Store in Town" awards presented to distinguished stores throughout the United States in 2010. 


After a complete remodeling of the interior of the store, replacing all the shelving and redesigning the floor space, C. G. Morrison True Value held a Grand Re-Opening in October of 2011.