In December of 1959, Jesse Smith inaugurated Smitty's TV in the garage of his 36th street home in San Diego, CA. Jesse was taking a correspondence course in television servicing from Commercial Trades Institute located in Chicago. Television servicing was still a young industry at this time and Jesse wanted to get in on the ground floor of this new and growing business. With a hired technician to assist in repairs, Smitty's TV began operation from this garage.
The business grew and soon it was time to move to a bigger storefront location. The shop moved to the corner of 30th Street and National Avenue in San Diego. Over the years, Smitty's TV had the distinction of at one time or another, being located on three of the four corners! The first location was next to Johnny's Market on the north west corner of the intersection. Several years later the shop moved next door to Galloway's Pharmacy on the south west corner. Finally Smitty's moved to its final location on the north east corner of the intersection.
Jesse ran the shop for several years. During this time the clientele grew and the shop expanded. Also during the period of 1960-1963 Jesse married, and he and his wife had a son. His new responsibilities as well as holding a full time job as a stevedore, left less and less time for the management of the TV shop. Jesse turned the operation of the TV shop to Manuel Smith, his nephew, in 1964.
Manuel ran the shop and expanded the operation adding technicians and becoming a dealer for Emerson and DuMont televisions. Also during this time, Manuel's cousin, Albert F. "Tito" Mendoza, studied television servicing and electronics, becoming an electronics service technician. Soon, Tito was the lead technician of Smitty's TV.
Just as Jesse had left the shop due to time constraints, now Manuel faced the same situation since he was raising his family and his full time occupation as a police officer for the San Diego Police Department was leaving less time for the operation of the shop. At this time, Manuel turned Smitty's TV over to Tito.
Under Tito's lead, Smitty's made it's final move to the north east corner of National Avenue. He continued to expand the shop's operation and increase the clientele. A number of service technicians were hired at one time or another to assist in servicing an increasing number of sets coming in for repair. During this time television receivers became more complex, going from vacuum-tube operated equipment to solid-state. The complexities of new business procedures and increasing prices put pressure on the technicians to work harder and continue to provide the level of service that Smitty's TV was known for.
In 1981 a sad and unexpected turn of events occurred. In the summer of that year, Tito unexpectedly passed away. The future of the shop was in question for a brief period as various options were considered. At first, it appeared that the shop would continue to be run with Tito's wife as owner, and with hired technicians performing the servicing work. As details were worked out however, the feasibility of doing this was less and less positive. After some serious thought, it was decided to close Smitty's TV down after 22 years of operation.
Shortly thereafter, Smitty's TV was reopened, figuratively, by Gilbert Smith, Jesse's son. It was now however, a hobby-oriented part-time business specializing in repair of vintage radios from the 1920-1950 era. The shop was re-established in the original location, the garage where Jesse had started the shop in 1959. By Smitty's 30th anniversary in 1989, the shop was handling quite a few repairs of vintage radios. To this day Smitty's exists in name and purpose. Now with the era of the internet, Smitty's expands into this area to bring you historical and valuable information for the early radio and TV enthusiast.
In 2009, Smitty's TV celebrated it's 50th anniversary. Reflecting on the history of the past 50 years is a time to see where we were, where we're going, and how far we have come along. Smitty's TV continues to live on!