Friday, December 6, 2013

Nostalgia – The Wonderful Department Stores of Yore!

Nostalgia – The Wonderful Department Stores of Yore!

At this time of year my dreams are filled with visions of shopping in the wonderful department stores of days gone by, which celebrated the holiday season with delightfully decorated displays in the windows that actually caused people to make a special trip to the center of town to experience the spirit of Christmas.  The day after Thanksgiving we would venture to Indianapolis or Chicago to shop and absorb the holiday spirit surrounded by music and decorations. At that time it wasn’t about the deals. It was just the sheer joy of embarking on an expedition to buy gifts or enjoy the elaborate decorations.

I miss my favorite department stores mostly because today’s shopping experience has become generic, boring, uninspiring and soulless. Ever store looks the same, offers the same merchandise and offers the same sales on the same days. Yawn!

These are the wonderlands of retail that I miss:

Marshall Field & Company
L.S. Ayres & Company
Strawbridge & Clothier
Woodridge & Lothrop
Carson Pirie Scott
Jordan Marsh
Bonwit Teller

And my heart still sings when I thing of Gidding Jenny, the Cincinnati retail establishment that brought style to the Midwest. Ah! The memories! Gidding Jenny was the first store I’d visited that served champagne to customers in the dressing rooms. Sigh!

These shopping establishments had character, personality and class that are now lost to history.  The retail conglomerates of today are mere shadows of their forebears that offered a richness of experience that is missing today. The merged stores no longer owned by the families that founded them offer the same merchandise in every outlet.  That is why people have abandoned brick
& mortar stores. The only way to find a diversity of merchandise it to shop online.

I bought my first fur coat at Gidding Jenny, my first TV at L.S. Ayres, my first piece of real adult furniture at Lazarus, my camel hair coat at Saks Fifth Avenue, my first sofa and end tables at Blocks – places that are sadly no more. Life is less pleasurable because of it. 

Images Courtesy of The Department Store Museum.

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