1950 - The Biggest and Best Year for Legendary Department Stores
Daily shopping was done locally, often within walking distance of home, but going shopping at the department stores in the city was an occasion. There was something special about the department stores—the hardwood floors, the chandeliers, the uniformed sales clerks, and the inviting ‘tea room’ restaurants—that made shopping unique. They had the newest fashions, an impressive array of the household goods, enticing sales, and, at Christmas, awesome window displays and elaborate toy departments. Even if your purchase was small, going into these stores was a treat.
City populations were at all time highs in the 1950s and downtown department store sales peaked all across America. Every large city had several distinctive department stores anchoring the downtown area. Each store had its own individual personality. These large department stores were flanked by dime stores, specialized clothing and shoe stores, lower-price chain stores, drug stores, and jewelry stores. The stores were huge compared with today’s big box stores, mall anchors, and Costco warehouses. Hudson’s 25-story department store in Detroit was approximately the size of the entire Mall of America near Minneapolis.