Miller's of Tennessee
was a chain of department stores based in eastern Tennessee.
The company was formed August 1, 1973, from the consolidation by retail conglomerate Garfinckel, Brooks Brothers, Miller & Rhoads, Inc.
of two related Tennessee-based department stores; Miller Brothers of Chattanooga
and Miller, Inc.
of Knoxville, Tennessee
. At formation the combined chain had 11 stores and 2 specialty shops in eastern Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina.
With the 1981, acquisition of its parent conglomerate, it became a part of Allied Stores. In 1986, the chain was sold to Hess's; then converted to Proffitt's in 1992.
Chattanooga Flagship Store
The Miller Brothers of Chattanooga
flagship store at 629 Market Street (cor. Seventh St.) in Chattanooga, was famed for having Chattanooga's only "Subway," which consisted of an underground shopping area that tunneled beneath Broad Street to another building at the corner of Seventh and Broad. On September 17, 1987, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places
Knoxville Flagship Store
The original Miller, Inc.
store in downtown Knoxville
, erected in 1905, was a fixture of the shopping culture in the area, and a foundation of the downtown business district. The original location on Gay St. is still known as the Miller's Building today. The Hess's store a few blocks west on Henley Street became the home of Miller's, and interestingly also had an underground tunnel which connected the store to its multi-level parking structure
across Henley Street.
The Henley Street building is currently home of the University of Tennessee Conference Center. While the parking structure was modified for the 1982 World's Fair and eventually leveled for the construction of the new Knoxville Convention Center, the tunnel still exists and is used for storage and access to the conference center's garbage disposal area. Former Knoxville councilman Don Ferguson has recently petitioned the University to allow the public to use the tunnel again.
Like many department stores of the era, Miller's incorporated a restaurant, snack bar, and bakery counter. Miller's coconut cakes were very popular with patrons, and the recipe is still a highly sought-after item.
After Miller Brothers was sold to the Garfinkel chain, it was merged with a similar store in Knoxville
, called simply "Miller, Inc." One of that store's locations (in Knoxville) was originally occupied by what would be the only Rich's
department store ever opened in Tennessee. Miller's also had several Georgia locations, one in Dalton
, and one in Rome
, which began as a multi-level downtown store and then moved to Rome's Riverbend Mall