Reed’s China and Gift Shop

Recently, I was searching the City of Edmonton Archives online catalogue for anything related to tea. I found many pictures of tea parties and was struck by the fancy cups and saucers. This led me to Reed’s China and Gifts and inspired me to write another post in my series on Edmonton family businesses. For years Reed’s was the go-to place for Edmontonians looking for beautiful china.

EA-336-6 “Reed’s Bazaar” ca. 1905 In addition to china, the original Reed’s sold homesteader supplies like washtubs and tin stoves.

EA-336-6 “Reed’s Bazaar” ca. 1905 In addition to china, the original Reed’s sold homesteader supplies like washtubs and tin stoves.

In 1905, William Henry Reed and his brother-in-law Russell Clarke opened Reed’s Tea and Bazaar at the corner of Jasper and 102 Street (where the Enbridge Tower is today). Reed had been in the tea trade in Ontario and, after weeks of testing to find the best blend for Edmonton’s water, he made his own special tea to sell in the store. The blend was a success and soon Reed’s could boast they supplied tea to Lieutenant Governor Bulyea and Government House.

MS-243 Item 2 p1– detail of the first page of Reed’s monthly cash ledger. The first lines read: “Edmonton November 25th, 1905. W.H. Reed this day commences business”

MS-243 Item 2 p1– detail of the first page of Reed’s monthly cash ledger. The first lines read: “Edmonton November 25th, 1905. W.H. Reed this day commences business”

Reed’s had many Edmonton firsts. They had the first hand cranked coffee roaster and the first bridal registry. They were the first to have a store Santa, who drove through the streets in a sleigh handing out gifts. They were also the first store in Edmonton to stock toys year round and not just at Christmas.

The business was almost destroyed by fire on January 11, 1913. Extremely cold temperatures led to a rash of fires from overburdened stoves. Most were swiftly put out but the fire at Reed’s burned out of control. The heat was so intense it cracked windows across the street. The firemen were helpless because the water supply was cut off when a pump at the powerhouse broke down. Fortunately, although Reed’s was a write-off, the water was restored in time to save the neighbouring buildings.

EA-366-16 “Reed’s Bazaar – Fire” January 11, 1913 The building under construction in the background is the Pantages Theatre (later the Strand Theatre)

EA-366-16 “Reed’s Bazaar – Fire” January 11, 1913 The building under construction in the background is the Pantages Theatre (later the Strand Theatre)

Reed’s losses were high but it could have been worse. They had opened a second location and were having a moving sale because their building was slated for demolition to make way for the Pantages Theatre. They didn’t lose as much as they might have because they had stock at the second store.

In the early years they moved several times and had different names like Reed’s Bazaar and Reed’s Fair. In 1927, reflecting Edmonton’s growth and changing population, they dropped the homestead supplies and opened a new store called Reed’s China and Gifts. They carried patterns by all the major china suppliers but also made personalized monogrammed sets.

EA-336-3 “Reed’s China & Gift Opening” 1927 Located at 10325 Jasper Avenue where Canadian Western Bank Place is today.

EA-336-3 “Reed’s China & Gift Opening” 1927 Located at 10325 Jasper Avenue where Canadian Western Bank Place is today.

Shortly after WWII, William Reed retired and Russell Clarke and his son Robert took over. Three generations of Clarke’s ran the business until the last three stores were sold in 1990. At their height there was a Reed’s in all the major shopping centres in Edmonton and stores in Calgary and Lethbridge as well.

City of Edmonton Artifacts Centre, 1996-17-1, c. 1970 Detail of the crest on a Reed’s China and Gift Shop box

City of Edmonton Artifacts Centre, 1996-17-1, c. 1970 Detail of the crest on a Reed’s China and Gift Shop box

For years Reed’s were known for home delivery and for their distinctive blue boxes with a gold or silver crest. They commissioned special designs and commemorative pieces and created the popular Royal Doulton Prince Charles stemware pattern but didn’t register the trademark. Today, the first store is recreated in Fort Edmonton Park’s 1905 Street as Reed’s Bazaar and Reed’s Tea Room.

Do you have any memories of Reed’s China and Gifts? Please share them in the comments! Also, I’m not sure when the last store closed, please comment if you know.

EA-336-17 “Reed’s China & Gift – Interior” ca. 1965

EA-336-17 “Reed’s China & Gift – Interior” ca. 1965

 

 

(2104)

Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on FacebookShare on LinkedIn
 
About the Author
Elizabeth Walker
Elizabeth has a Masters of Archival Studies from UBC and she’s been the City’s digital archivist since September 2010. She’s passionate about outreach and increasing engagement between the Archives and the community.
7 Comments
  1. Greg Clarke
    3 years ago

    Hi Elizabeth, I enjoyed your Woodward’s post (I loved going to $1.49 day with my grandma), and it led me to your post on Reed’s. I happen to be a descendent of Russell F. Clarke and still have a few of those blue Reed’s boxes with the gold lettering in my house. I don’t remember when the last store closed (it was roughly 1990 as you say) but I was in and out of stores in Millwoods, Southgate, Meadowlark and downtown in the 80s as a teen. My grandfather Robert also had an office in Empire Building before he retired in the early 80s – a world away from today and where I live now in St. John’s. Anyway, I remember being pretty impressed with the new store that opened in City Centre in the mid-late 80s (various shades of grey and a very modern looking font) but times were already changing and it wasn’t long before Reed’s closed down. Thanks for the memories!

  2. C.o.owen
    3 years ago

    Hi Elizabeth, just found this account that you have written, it’s fantastic, now I,ve discovered it I will follow other things that you write.

  3. Jill Pringle
    1 year ago

    Hello, Elizabeth! I used to shop a lot at Reed’s (they sold lovely blue and white Spode and Gallo pieces and I was an avid collector). My memory is telling me that I bought them from Reed’s in West Edmonton Mall — am I dreaming? Am I crazy?

  4. B. Purin
    12 months ago

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Today I was having tea and digestive biscuits. I recalled the first time ever having these biscuits, in the back upstairs room at Reed’s, at tea break, drinking from the best china. It was my very first job…at Reed’s. It was 1954. I folded gift boxes and did gift wrapping. I earned $15 a week. A lovely woman came every afternoon to make and serve tea for the employees. I also remember how the saleswomen “clanged” the saucer and cup together in such a way that the buyer could discern it’s quality,

    I have fond memories of Reed’s.

  5. Linda Harris
    2 months ago

    This is my great grandfather Henry Reed. (his son Dr. GE Reed, my grandfather )
    I grew up in Nova Scotia and did not have the opportunity to experience reeds pavilion or to know my great grandparents. I am doing research on ancestry.ca and I am grateful for any titbits of information. If you would like to email me I could send you some photos of a peace pipe that was gifted to great grandfather Reed from a native band who he had fair trade dealings with. I would like to research to know more about which band that was so the pipe could be returned to them.
    Again thank you for this wonderful article! In deep gratitude Linda Harris

  6. Karen Kaija
    2 months ago

    So interesting to read this article because it’s about my maternal relatives. Thanks! I always remember my mom telling us about this or that piece of china or dinnerware given by her grandfather from his china shop in Edmonton. I remember visiting my great-aunt Nora in Edmonton and the light-brown stucco house she lived in but unfortunately not the store . . .

  7. ron pettigrew
    2 months ago

    Hello Beth…my father Bill Pettigrew and Dick Wedgwood who once worked with Reeds bought Cavalier China and Gift in Calgary….successful .. Black box ..gold accent

LEAVE A COMMENT

Featured Posts