Mel Cotton’s Sporting Goods “Where Successful Adventures Begin” just closed down after being in business since 1946. And since the area will see redevelopment pretty soon, their distinctive sign (probably from 1955 when the store moved to it’s present location) will be gone soon too. One of my favorite things about this sign is that the mountain on the sign echoes the shape of the mountains ( well, hills, actually) in the far distance behind it.
I was there just a couple of days ago, and while the big sign was lit up and said “OPEN”, the notice on the door made it very clear that wasn’t true. “Closed Forever!” sounds pretty final.
Here is another sketch very similar to the one above, that I made on the day I read a piece by Sal Pizzaro in the San Jose Mercury News announcing that the store was closing. The piece has a little bit of history of the owner, Mel Cotton (yes, that was his actual name) and talks about some of the factors that led to the store finally closing it’s doors. While redevelopment might be what we need to keep up with the needs of the city, it’s worth thinking about the exchange we’re making when big chains replace a lot of smaller independent businesses. That sounds a little bit like ‘one step forward and two steps back’ when you consider how much is lost when you shut down unique businesses for homogenized offerings from chain stores.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time at the local archives digging up what I can find about these signs and clippings of Sal Pizarro’s pieces show up in the the archives all the time. To someone like me, who has lived in San Jose only a decade, these pieces are often the only history and human stories I can find connecting old signs I find with stories that are quickly lost. Thank you, Sal!
1266 W San Carlos ( San Carlos and Race Street)