Petty Mercantile



Hurricane, Utah


4 North Main Street
Hurricane, Utah

For a map of the downtown business district in the late 1920's, click here.


During most of the 20th century, Petty Mercantile (and later Graff Mercantile) was a landmark on the corner of State and Main in Hurricane.

Melbourne DeMille and his wife, Jenny, moved there in 1907. In 1908, he bought the family store in Rockville and moved the merchandise to Hurricane. In 1812, DeMille and his new partner, Charles "Charlie" Petty, built a new brick store on the corner. It stood at that location for a century along with a later addition on the back. In 1918, DeMille sold his interest in the store and moved to Monroe, Utah, becoming a successful farmer and businessman there.

The south half of the large brick building housed Petty Mercantile. On the corner facing the street was the "Dorty" Gibson barber shop. Across the hall (which was the entrance to a show house) was a drugstore. Petty owned and operated the movie business also and the showhouse took up most of the northeast part of the building.

The old silent movies were accompanied by the music of a player piano, up in the balcony. Most of the work was done by individuals to pay for their movie tickets.

In the store, shelves covered the north and south walls, floor to ceiling. Tall ladders ran at an angle on a ceiling track. A clerk could push the ladders to reach any item on the shelves. There were no shopping carts or baskets for customers to gather their purchases. They came with a list and a clerk accompanied him or her all over the store and out to the barn or shed to gather up their goods. If things were really busy, the clerk might pull down a box of stockings or several pairs of shoes so that the customer could be deciding while another person was waited on. But usually, the clerk stayed with one customer at a time.

In 1928, Petty sold the store to Emil J. Graff.


The Petty Merchantile Building in Hurricane
WCHS-04357   Photo of the Petty Merchantile Building in Hurricane


A poster from the Hurricane Pioneer Museum