Jones-Hayes Company

Published 8:10 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2022

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By Clyde Parker

Looking Back

Jones-Hayes Company Inc., a noted and “iconic” Franklin quality clothing business, was in operation from 1896 to 1987. For most of its existence, it was located at 202 North Main St., – being at that location starting in 1912. Prior to that, the Jones-Hayes location is an uncertainty. A stone inset near the top of the building shows “1902 J. H. Holland.”

Although Jones-Hayes was founded by Elijah Philip Jones in partnership with George R. Hayes, it is unclear as to how long Hayes was a partner. Original stockholders in the company were W. H. Jones, W. B. Simpson, George R. Hayes, Elijah P. Jones, Mrs. M. H. Jones and L. R. Jones.

Elijah Philip Jones was the principal owner of Jones-Hayes from 1896 – to 1959 when he died; his son Emerson Philip Jones operated the business from 1959 to 1987. Emerson was a graduate of Duke University and held a master’s degree from Harvard Business School. Following college, he joined National Cellulose Corp. in New York as national sales manager. During World War II, he served as a naval supply officer for the U. S. Navy in the Fifth Naval District. Following the war, Emerson returned to Franklin to join his father’s business.

In 1949, Emerson and Elijah (“Mr. Phil”) decided to modernize their building. On Oct. 6, 1950, after almost a year of re-construction, Jones-Hayes re-opened its new and modern structure to the public. In coming up with the new store design, officials of Jones-Hayes studied many leading new stores in major cities before patterning their store after one of New York’s most modern clothing stores, Wallach’s of Fifth Avenue. Emerson, who had lived in New York prior to World War II, recalled and had observed, while he was there, the appearance and operations of clothing stores in that city. 

The new Jones-Hayes building was defined as the “clear-vision” type, with the front show windows going down almost to the sidewalk. There were no backs in the show windows, giving the viewer, from the sidewalk, a clear picture of the stores’ interior. Side paneling in the show windows was manufactured by Camp Manufacturing Co.

The Binswanger Company of Richmond installed the building’s new front, including the show windows framed with aluminum, and with cadet blue vitro-lite glass trim.

The Grand Rapids Store Equipment Co. of Grand Rapids, Michigan designed the interior of the store. It was designed to allow for individual “shops” within the store: men’s section; women’s section; miscellaneous merchandise; boy scout clothing and gear; women’ shoe department; and, upstairs, a very fine women’s fashion store.

The store had two entrances, the one on the left for the men’s section and the one on the right for the women. Essentially, there were two stores – one for the men and one for the women. For a period of time, from about 1930 to the late 1950s, Emerson Jones’ cousin Ellsworth Jones was manager of the women’s part of the store while Emerson was in charge of the men’s section.

For decades, Jones-Hayes, was considered by many people to be the place to go for quality clothing – with such brand names as “Arrow,” “Kingsridge,” “McGregor,” “Botany 500,” and “Florsheim.” And, it was recognized by the Boy Scouts of America as an official outlet for boy scout uniforms and equipment. 

Elijah Philip Jones, the original owner, died in 1959 at the age of 81 – and, then, Emerson Jones, his only child, assumed total ownership of the business.

In 1987, after being in business for 91 years, Jones-Hayes closed up and held a going-out-of-business sale. On Nov. 3, 1988, Emerson Jones died at the age of 79. Survivors, at that time, included his wife, Emily Cross Jones, formerly of Suffolk; two sons, Milton R. Jones and Dr. E. Philip Jones; and a grandchild.

The old Jones-Hayes building was empty for a period of time but was purchased by Ben Kitchen in 1990.

From 1991 to 1996, Ben Kitchen with his son-in-law Larry Parrish, as general manager, operated a new men’s clothing business out of the building, called “Main Street Clothier.” From 1996 to 1999, Ben Kitchen and Larry Parrish, still as owners, leased portions of the business to various other kinds of businesses, including a music shop and a consignment shop. And, for a period of time, “Ameri-Gas” operated out of the building. After the 1999 flood, Ben Kitchen had the building cleaned and decided to sell it. In the year 2,000 Ray Smith purchased the building. For a period of time, up to recently, Jim’s Pawn Shop occupied the building. It is now vacant.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is