Spokane's First store


When John Glover arrived in 1873 at Spokane Falls, he went into business - opening a general store.

It was located on the southwest corner of what would become Howard and Trent.  Glover originally named the muddy road Front Street, but the name was changed when the railroad came to town, renamed in honor of an official of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

Glover said in his memoires:

"We realized that our trade was going to be almost exclusively with the Indians, and we would select goods with that fact in view."  "Our stock consisted largely of blankets, shawls, and dress goods such as the Indians would buy".   "The later was mostly calico, which was used principally by the Indian women, and the white women too for that matter."  "We laid in a good supply of paints to be mixed with water to be used by the Indians on their faces and heads."  "You hardly ever saw a squah or buck either who wasn't painted up."

Glover went on describing his store merchandise:

"Cheaper quality of beads comprise a good part of our stock also."  "The Indians all wore moccasins and they were generally finely beaded."  "The pouches in which the women carried their young ones were also decorated in this way." 

"Besides, we had a good supply of groceries and a little hardware, such as nails."  "We had smoking and chewing tobacco, but no cigars or cigarettes."  "Our groceries consisted of staple articles, like coffee, tea, and sugar".

"It was not until the winter that we had any trade with the Indians."  "About December 20th, there was about a foot of snow on the ground and conditions for trapping and hunting were better."   "About 7 or 8 o'clock in the evening of that day, we were informed that there were a number of Indians in the front of the store door, waiting to be admitted."

"We opened the door and started a fire in the stove."   "The Indians came in and made themselves comfortable, mostly sitting themselves on the floor with their legs drawn up under them."  "Each of them had his separate lot of furs."

"That was a night to be remembered."    "An Indian is slow to make up his mind, but when he once makes it up, the trading goes on quite rapidly."   "The first thing they did after they got seated was to commence smoking, passing the pipe around the circle."  "They did that not as a ceremony, but because they enjoyed it."   "They smoked only a little tobacco with a large proportion of 'kinnikinnick', a plant that grows abundantly hereabouts."   "They pick the leaves and dry them before the fire."

He went on:

"Then they had to determine what they were going to get for the furs."   "These were mostly martin, a beautiful little fur about half as large as an ordinary mink."

"The Indians didn't consider his time of any value at all."  "If he can make a little better bargain by riding 100 miles on a pony, he will do it." 

"The trading finally commenced along toward the wee small hours of the morning and when it was completed about noon the next day, it amounted to $1,000 to $1,200 for the night."  "This was almost entirely in furs, although some Indians had a little money and they spent everything they had before they left."

"We had decided we would deal with them fairly and squarely."  "The Indians and the Chinamen watch the scales very closely while you are weighing out their stuff, and notice what you charge white people for the same thing."   "There wasn't very much in furs for us."   "We ship them to Portland or Vancouver or Victoria, British Columbia."  "We had a fine lot of buffalo robes every fall too."  "I have often wished I had kept a few of those robes."  "We shipped 44 (buffalo robes) to Vancouver and Victoria at one time  and received only $4.80 for each of them, just about what we had actual cost us."  "Today I suppose they would bring $40 or $50 each, even $100."

 (Gloves estimated the value in 1917 when he wrote these historical journal memories).

Glover continues:

"We had very little trade with the white people."  Ther were only a few of them in the country and they lived 8 to 10 miles apart."   "I considered everyone within 40 or 50 miles my neighbors."   "They usually saved up their money for a year and went to Walla Walla and laid in a year's supply."   "They hardly ever called on me, except when they ran out of something." 

"Times were very hard and it was impossible to sell anything."  When they came in to trade, they used to bring  hog or a quarter of beef or something like that to trade for things they wanted."

From James Glover's Journals



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