In 1938, Carroll and Ruth Johnson
opened the original "Beach Store" (later known as "Mac's" then "Mac's
Dive Shop", and now
"Mac's Sports, Inc").
Back in 1938, this was the only place
on Clearwater Beach where you could get groceries, magazines,
newspapers, tobacco, beachwear, fishing tackle, soft drinks, candy,
almost everything! "It was like an early 7-11", says Ruth Johnson,
"At least we were open from seven to eleven and sold most anything we
thought people would want". They also rented bicycles and fishing
gear! Called simply the "Beach Store" and located on Mandalay
Avenue, it opened the same year as the hamburger stand which became the
Pelican Restaurant. Ruth and Carroll Johnson, newly arrived from
Birmingham, Alabama, started the business and, as Ruth reports, "worked
very hard to make sure it would succeed". It cost a whole $500 to
get set up in business in an area where the existing businesses were
limited to the Pelican, the Palm Pavilion, Langford's Service Station at
the end of the causeway, a seafood market where the King Cole Motel now
stands and not much else. Langford's had something brand new that
the tourists really like. It was called a "self-service" laundry
where you could pay to do your laundry in machines.
After the births of their two sons,
the Johnsons moved to New Mexico. "Mac" McCarthy purchased the
Beach Store and renamed it "Mac's". During WWII, it was a favorite
shopping place for the young people of the Beach because Mac made sure
that what few candy bars and Cokes he could obtain were squirreled away
to be sold only to youngsters. Returning from New Mexico six years
later, the Johnson's went back into the grocery business and,
eventually, they purchased the little store back from Mac McCarthy and
this time the bought the building. Their son, Jim Johnson,
eventually turned it into Mac's Dive Shop before his sports business
outgrew the small building and he moved it to the mainland.
Carroll Johnson dies in 1980 and Ruth
Johnson continued to live on Clearwater Beach until her death. The
trailer park (which was replaced by the Surfside Holiday Inn) was on
both sides of Mandalay Avenue.
The Johnsons were among the first
young couples to be permanent residents of Clearwater Beach because
their son, Jim, along with a young lady named Barbara Burton, were said
to be the first children born to "real" Beach residents.