This ad from 1929 promises the new modern marvel of radio! The Jesse French Piano Company advertised this ornate cabinetry as a fine instrument. (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

This ad from 1929 promises the new modern marvel of radio! The Jesse French Piano Company advertised this ornate cabinetry as a fine instrument. (Image: Indiana State Library)

Business:  Em-Roe Distributors

Date of Ad:  July 29, 1906

Location:  Downtown – 209-211 West Washington Street

Years of Operation: 1913- 2015

Notable: Em-Roe’s, incorporated in 1914 by Lee Emmelman, was the leading name in sporting goods in Indianapolis for over a century. The company began as a wholesale distributor dealing in everything from clothing to appliances. Early on, they specialized in outfitting the weekend outdoorsman specializing in an assortment of tackle and rifles. Hoosier Hysteria was at its craziest in the 1950’s and Em-Roe’s took full advantage, offering customized uniforms and equipment to area high schools. You might find a vintage letterman sweater with an Em-Roe tag by rummaging through Indy area closets and attics. The company phased out its retail operations over time, closing their last location in Southern Plaza in 1995. For the next twenty years, they operated as a custom athletic apparel supplier out of a large warehouse on Georgetown Road in Park 100. Em-Roe’s was purchased and liquidated by a Texas firm in 2015, ending more than 100 years of supplying sporting goods to Indy.

Additionally The radio featured in the above ad also has a local tie-in. The Jesse French Company, based out of New Castle, Indiana began building upright pianos in 1875. Not wanting to lose out on the latest in home entertainment technology, they jumped into the radio business in the late 1920’s. The company was bought by out-of-state interests in 1955.

This Sanborn map shows where Em-Roe's would be located for much of its life in the 200 block of West Washington Street. It was adjacent to the infamous Lorraine Hotel. This block was cleared in 1968 for parking at the conceived Indiana Convention Center. (Courtesy IUPUI)

This Sanborn map shows where Em-Roe’s was located for much of its life– in the 200 block of West Washington Street. It was adjacent to the infamous Lorraine Hotel in the building labeled Central Supply. This block was cleared in 1968 for future parking at the yet to be realized Indiana Convention Center. Em-Roe’s moved to the vacated Selig’s Department Store further east. (Image: IUPUI Digital Archives)

By the 1970's Em-Roe had locations at all of the major shopping centers. They ended their retail operations in 1995. (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

By the 1970’s Em-Roe had locations at all of the major shopping centers. They ended their retail operations in 1995. (Courtesy Indiana State Library)