To the left was Laxton’s Coffee Shop, Watson’s Department Store (middle), and on the right was E.E. Hill & Son Insurance.

By Charlie Hutson

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – From the 1920s until the 1960s, Watson’s was one of La Follette’s busiest stores. It was probably La Follette’s first chain department store.

It started in 1907 in Knoxville as a single store and soon expanded to stores all over East Tennessee. Watson’s later expanded into other states, nine all toll.

In the beginning, it was Ira A. Watson’s Department Store. Later is was changed to just Watson’s.

The La Follette store remained in the same building the entire time it was in La Follette. Today, the space is part of the Peoples Bank of the South.

Watson’s Corporate Office and centralized warehouse for all the stores was in Knoxville. In 1998, the Peebles Store purchases Watson’s. The former Watson’s Knoxville Distribution Center at 200 Hayfield Road, across from Beaty Chevrolet, continues to serve as one of two warehouses for the Peebles chain. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 03/08/2023-6AM)