Abraham Allen Johnson opened a retail store in Norcross in 1885, and the store was open in that same location on Jones Street for more than 100 years.
In the late 1800s, Norcross, with its railroad connection to Atlanta and the manufacturing centers of the Northeast, became a trading center for the surrounding farmland. The town had a number of retail stores that catered to the rural families, selling farm tools, hardware and many other necessities. A. A. Johnson moved to Norcross with his wife Mary Lou and family in 1885. He opened a store in partnership with A. A. Martin. The two partners separated a few years later, afterwards operating separate facilities. Johnson’s store, which was continued by the next three generations of the family, was active up until the 1990s. Abe and Mary Lou’s family grew to eight children, and they built a large home on Barton Street. A lake was behind the home, leading them to call their home “Lakeview.” John Adams, writing in the book Norcross, told a story that he recalled from his youth regarding a late-night incident at Johnson’s Store. His account is quoted here:
“Anyone living in Norcross during this time can recall some unusual incidents relating to Johnson’s Store. The one incident I remember is the great break-in and robbery of the store in the mid 30’s. A group of robbers backed a truck up to the front of the store at night and apparently waited for a train to come through town. While the train was passing with the attendant noise, the burglars knocked the plate glass window and stole all the clothing and dry goods from the store, along with other items they selected. The burglars were never apprehended. This was during a time when there was only one man on the police force, Chief Homer Green. He had retired to his home at this late hour. With no police to detect the robbers, they were able to load the truck and escape without being caught. After the robbery was discovered on the following morning, several people remembered driving through town and seeing the truck, but they had no suspicion because they thought someone was making a late delivery to the store.”