Merry Christmas From Labelscar!

By most accounts, the 2007 holiday shopping season has thusfar been a bit of a bust. In an effort to bring a bit of cheer (and remind everyone of how fun that holiday mall shopping used to be!), one of our frequent contributors, Michael Lisicky, has sent in the following set of photos of vintage department stores and malls at Christmastime, along with this note:

“As a holiday gift to the readers of Labelscar, here is a collection of photographs from my collection of stores from the past as they celebrated the holiday season. Many of these stores no longer exist. Whether it was shopping downtown or in the local malls, department stores help set the pace for displaying holiday cheer. Even as some were breathing their last breath, they still managed to deck the halls.

Enjoy these photos and enjoy the holidays.”

1- B. Altman New York 1989

B. Altman New York 1989
2- B. Altman New York 1989

B. Altman, New York, 1989
3- Burdines downtown Miami 1994

Burdine's, downtown Miami, 1994

4- Burdines downtown Miami 1994

Burdine's, downtown Miami, 1994

5- Burdines Aventura 2004

Burdine's, Aventura, Florida, 2004
6- Emporium San Francisco 1995

Emporium, San Francisco, CA, 1995
7- Globe Store Scranton 1991

Globe Store, Scranton, PA, 1991

8- Goldsmith’s Southland (Memphis) 2004

Goldsmith's, Southland Mall Memphis, TN, 2004
9- Bon-Ton/Hess’s Allentown, PA 1995
The Bon-Ton/Hess's, Allentown, PA, 1995

10- Hutzler’s White Marsh (Baltimore) 1989

Hutzler's, White Marsh Mall, Baltimore, Maryland, 1989
11- Leh’s Allentown 1991
Leh's, Allentown, Pennsylvania, 1991

12- Miller & Rhoads Richmond 1989

Rich's, Lenox Square Mall, Georgia, 2004
13- Rich’s Lenox Square 2004
Rich's, Lenox Square Mall, Georgia, 2004

14- Rich’s Lenox Square 2004

Rich's North DeKalb, Georgia, 2004
15- Rich’s North DeKalb 2004
Rich's Greenbrier, Georgia, 2004

16- Rich’s Greenbrier 2004


17- Stern’s Manhattan Mall 2000
Stern's, Manhattan Mall, New York City, NY, 2000

18- Stern’s (Gimbels) Philadelphia-Center City 1988

Stern's (Gimbels), Philadelphia-Center City, 1988
19- Stern’s Middlesex Mall 2000
Stern's, Middlesex Mall, South Plainfield, New Jersey, 2000

20- Strawbridge & Clothier Philadelphia 1995

Strawbridge & Clothier Philadelphia, PA, 1995

21- Strawbridge & Clothier Philadelphia 1995
Strawbridge & Clothier, Philadelphia, 1995

22- Thalhimer’s Richmond 1991

Thalhimer's, Richmond, VA, 1991
23- Thalhimer’s Eastgate Mall 1991

Thalhimer's, Eastgate Mall, Richmond, VA, 1991
24-26 – John Wanamaker (Hecht’s) 1995 Philadelphia

John Wanamaker's (Hecht's), 1995, Philadelphia, PA
John Wanamaker's (Hecht's), 1995, Philadelphia, PA

John Wanamaker's (Hecht's), 1995, Philadelphia, PA

54 Responses to “Merry Christmas From Labelscar!”

  1. Thanks Caldor for posting pics of the old Stern’s Manhattan Mall . I used to love shopping at Stern’s here in New York City.The Rich’s Lenox Square in 2004 looks so beautiful. Ilove how the great tree looks on top of the store.


  2. Seeing these wonderful pictures reminds me just how much I hate Macy’s. If it wasn’t for Macy’s sensless killing spree, half of all of the stores pictures would still be around today.

    What really makes me made about Macy’s is that they did not kill their competition as the result of a fair fight, or because they offered something so much better than their competitors. (For instance, Wal-Mart killed its competiton legitimately by offering the lowest prices of anyone.) Instead, Macy’s merely acquired these historic nameplates and renamed them, thereby destroying so much retail heritage in the process.


  3. Correction: A sentence in the above post should actually read: “If it wasn’t for Macy’s sensless killing spree, half of all of the stores pictured would still be around today.”


  4. How I wish Rich’s was still here for another Christmas…and the long gone storied downtown store. Damn Macy’s…I refuse to call that store by name. I just call the stores in Atlanta what they used to be: Rich’s or Davison’s. Of course, that raises some eyebrows when I call one of the old R.H. Macy stores Davison’s, which disappeared in 1986. It was nice to see somebody else was around taking pics of Rich’s when I was…I wonder if I almost bumped into him. Greenbriar I should tell you is a scary place, so I’m a bit surprised to see that one covered. I took pics of every single Rich’s in Atlanta when they disappeared both at the mall entrance and exterior. Also, love to see those Goldsmith’s pics…I tried to get somebody to get pics of that when it was going but nobody would. Rich’s and Goldsmith’s were unceremoniously married in the early 1990’s…the only connection that they were both southern stores gracing their respective cities of Atlanta and Memphis. It looks like Goldsmith’s had a really beautiful and classy looking logo, too.


  5. Wow what alot of beautiful department stores. Too bad that a majority of these were “Macy-ated”. That Goldsmith’s looks really cool and holiday-ish.

    I wonder, if the Macy chain broke, would a few of these stores come back or would it disappear forever, even after Macy’s goes?


  6. Max, even though I’m not a big fan of Walmart, I would agree that what Macy’s did was a lot worse. Walmart won the retail war in its segment for the simple reason that it offered a better price and more convenient locations. Macy’s bought up companies with great histories that for the most part, weren’t on a downslide like some of the companies such as Woolco that Walmart replaced were.

    Many of the stores that Macy’s replaced were generally really nice stores (Marshall Fields,Robinson May, Filene’s, and Kauffmanns in particular), especially when compared to the majority of converted NJ Bamburgers junk (with the exception being Menlo which is a really nice store and Freehold Raceway which is an honest to god Macy’s). Just to completely discredit a Chicago landmark like Marshall Fields was probably the biggest crime of them all.

    I doubt Dayton would’ve sold them if they knew Federated would’ve done what they did with Mays.


  7. Thanks for these great pictures. It kind of bring back memories of the hey day of the department store when they used to go out all out for the Christmas holidays to decorate their stores.


  8. just reading these messages.I know macy’s has taken over everything that they can get their hands on.they had to do that to survive. around the early 90’s they filed for bankruptcy so afterwards they merged with federated and eliminated stores in New Jersey like Abraham and Straus known to us ny,nj residents as A&S and of course eliminating Stern’s 6 yrs later.just a off topic message but otherwise I like the old pics of the stores from back in the day


  9. WOW! What fantastic photos. It’s so good to know that there are those of us out there who remember “back when” stores were different from one city to the next…even if just by name…and catered to their hometowns. Especially at Christmas, when they’d get decked-out in their finery.

    As for the entire country being Macyated…ugh. I hate that freakin’ store and what they’ve done to so many good, old-fashioned names. I especially miss Strawbridge & Clothier…thanks for posting those pictures!

    Any photos of Woodies & Garfinckel’s in DC? Woodies was MY store, and I really miss it so much.

    I suppose we all have to just come to grips with the fact that those days are gone. Danroman, I like your thought about what would happen if Macy’s were to go belly-up. I’d like to think that we’d get alot of the old names back, but I have my doubts.


  10. […] As we approach Christmas, we can harken back to when towns had local or regional department stores, each decorated in a particular style for the holidays. As the comments on a photo retrospective at Labelscar note, the retail landscape has now been Macyated. As Canadians do more and more shopping at outlet malls in U.S. border cities, we’re increasingly leaving all but our underpants behind as we head home. As we all debate climate change and the United States faces $4 a gallon gas, the Canadian Centre for Architecture presents 1973: Sorry out of gas. (Exhibition site, News Release) […]

  11. How sad. I saw the Strawbridge flagship store last summer, and it was abandoned. Forgotten by urban Philadelphia, it was a dingy shell speckled with graffiti.

    I personally like the relief from Cherry Hill Mall’s Strawbridge’s.

    At any rate, it’s gone now, being removed in the name of progress…


  12. I remember going into the old Philadelphia Wanamaker’s during the Christmas shopping season a long, long time ago. Very impressive! Haven’t been down to Center City Philadelphia in a while…Is that now a Macy’s? (I remember that it was Lord and Taylor for a while).

    The one local department store I miss most is Epstein’s in Morristown on the Green. It was an impressive store and survived for years after Macy’s left. My college’s Madrigals even sang there during the holiday season! But now, a memory.

    On the subject of Christmas decorations, many stores, including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Lord and Taylor, have toned them down…this is unfortunate as I remember that they were quite grandiose a few years ago. Nordstrom has done a good job this year, though.


  13. It’s depressing seeing these wonderful pics, and knowing that most of those regional dept. store chains very likely have been Macy-ated away, or went out of business. I should also quickly note that there are a small handful of dept. store chains pictured here that either I’ve never heard of, or rarely have heard much about, such as B. Altman, Emporium, Globe Store, Leh’s, and Hutzler’s(not to mention of all these mentioned dept. stores, Hutzler’s is the only one I’ve vaguely heard of, but like the others I mentioned, don’t know anything about its history).

    Finally, as for all these regional chains, the one I’m most familiar with is easily Rich’s, due to the fact that my dad’s family is from the state of Georgia, and that many of them happen to live in the Atlanta area. Also not surprisingly throughout my life, I’ve always taken trips to Georgia and to Atlanta every few years. I today feel somewhat sad and upset that when I was young, I never once had the chance to see Rich’s downtown Atlanta store in its final years of operation, but I’m hopeful that the fact that I’ve supposedly heard that the old building that it operated in is still standing, albeit abandoned(a la the Strawbridge’s flagship store in downtown Philly).

    That aside about my youthful admiration of Rich’s, I greatly enjoyed looking at all of these Christmastime decoration pics!


  14. First off, an aside on the Rich’s in downtown Atlanta: Half of it is still there and actually used, albeit not as a department store. The original half is used as part of the Sam Nunn Federal Center. The 1950s half (which was the Store for Home half) was imploded and part of the Sam Nunn Federal Center was built in its place. The building is actually in very good shape, and they went out of their way to save the clock. Wikipedia has a nice pic:

    Too bad to hear about the condition of Strawbridge’s in downtown Philly…lovely building, and I’m so glad I got to experience it once.

    Anyways, to the Christmas pics! I love the Goldsmith’s one — what they did to the logo right before the end was a horrible mistake.

    To me, the Miller & Rhoads one is so typical of a department store — high ceilings, a clock — nay, timepiece — columns, and of course, the mid-50s style interior signage.

    And of course, my beloved Rich’s…….sigh…….

    I know I’ve asked this before, but I can’t remember the answer — the Rich’s and Stern’s logos are sooooooooo similar…coincidence?


  15. Oh — sorry to clutter things up, but what I meant when I was talking about the Miller & Rhoads picture was that in my mind, that picture is what I think about when I think about real department stores…


  16. Allan,

    B. Altman began in NYC and grew out from there. The locations of which I was most familiar were the Short Hills and Fashion Center locations. At Short Hills, it was located close to where Neiman Marcus stands today and had an upper level mall entrance (if I remember, the parking deck was below the mall prior to the 1995 expansion/redevelopment). It was a 2 level location with a small lower level. Altman’s was impressively decorated around the holidays and had a HUGE Christmas/Trim-a-Tree department for a clothing based department store.

    Back in the day, Short Hills also had a Bonwit Teller (which is where Saks Fifth Avenue is today…and the old Millburn Avenue Saks is still vacant, nearly 15 years later!) which was also on 5th Avenue (and made a re-appearance in Die Hard 3). Speaking of Christmas decorations, the Mall at Short Hills went ALL OUT back in the 1980s.


  17. When Hess’s took over Miller’s here in Knoxville, they used giant (think two story-high) toy soldiers posted at the exterior and interior entrances of the stores here. Was that limited to here or was it everywhere?

    I also remember they had this awesome green wrapping paper every year with the soldiers all over it. Classic. I remember many of my childhood gifts wrapped in that paper in the late 80’s and early 90s.


    GDKay Reply:

    @Brian, The 20 foot “wooden toy soldiers” were a Hess’ trademark for all their stores, modeled after the pair that flanked the Hamilton Street Entrance of their flagship store in Allentown, PA. They also tended to place a few small-scale Austrian crystal chandelier in purpose-built suburban stores to replicate the huge ones in flagship– see this site’s Bon-Tom/Hess Christmas photo to gawk at their sheer size. They shook all the time from second floor traffic.


  18. The soldiers at Hess’s were chain-wide. The store at 9th and Hamilton in Allentown had the toy soldiers “standing guard” at entrances on both streets. They were really something to see, weren’t they? And the “main” store (as it was called here in the Lehigh Valley) was something to see as well. I still dispise The Bon-Ton for what they did to Hess’s. In my estimation they’re as bad as Macy’s for their habit of taking a chain over and bastardizing it. But only after closing any downtown locations (as with AM&A’s, Watt & Shand, etc.

    The wrapping paper you describe was a Hess’s staple! You may also remember that each wrapped package had a special Christmas ornament attached to the bow & ribbon placed on them. My mother-in-law was kind enough to give me one of hers…but I have yet to get the rest! Hehehe!!

    I would absolutely LOVE to go back to the days where each city had its own department stores and everyone would go downtown to shop and see the decorations. I consider myself lucky to have been born just in time to remember when the stores in DC were still around and how nicely-decorated they were at Christmas.

    Until that happens, I’ll keep my collection of old Christmas gift boxes, shopping bags and catalogs to decorate my home with at this time of year.


  19. Thanks for sharing these photos. I fondly remember my first visit to Philly in the late 1970s and spending hours in the beautiful Wanamaker and Strawbridge & Clothier stores. I only vaguely remember Lits and Gimbels. Lits later closed and that big building stood vacant on Market Street for years.

    Our local mall hosted hess’s and the wooden soldiers guarded the entrances at Christmas. When hess’s came to town, they promised to bring “excitement” to shopping. It was fun to stroll through the store and see some unique displays. Of course, they were bought out by the bland Bon Ton.

    We had family in Baltimore and Washington, so I was able to shop at Hutzler’s, Hecht’s, Woodies, Garfinkels –all had huge downtown stores with floors upon floors to explore. When we visited relatives in Detroit, a trip to the mammoth JL Hudson store was a major treat. Closer to home, Pittsburgh hosted three major downtown stores–Joseph Horne, Gimbels, and Kaufmann’s. When I first started working, I became the proud owner of a Gimbels credit card. My grandmother visited her brother in Wheeling WV and the classic Stone & Thomas department store had a fantastic restaurant and candy counter!

    And the young people of today have what–macy*mart!!! Sears, Penney’s, Kmart and others were always around, but the local stores were special. Each city and region had its own unique department stores and part of the fun was getting gifts in unfamiliar bags and boxes. The sense of place in our nation has been destroyed by bland, boring uniformity. Every mall and commercial district has the same stores and restaurants. Nothing special. Same old, same old.


  20. Matt from CLT: Thanks so much for clarifying to me about how much of the original downtown Atlanta Rich’s store is left, since that confirmed what I thought I’d heard from various sources over the years! I also appreciated seeing that link to the pic of what’s left of the downtown store, and am now hopeful that seeing it’s in as great of a shape as that, I’ll definitely be able to finally see the building for myself someday.

    mallguy: Thanks for giving me some history about B. Altman! Do you know what happened to that chain, like say if they merged w/another dept. store chain, if they’re still around in some different fashion(i.e. Montgomery Ward’s resurrection as an online-only retailer) and/or the same form as before, or if they went out of business?


  21. I absolutely despise Macy’s. I live in the Houston area and Macy’s is no Foley’s. The stores are awful now and the merchandise is cheap and overpriced. I predict over half of the old Foley’s will be closed within a year (along with the other former May divisions). I shopped Foley’s without coupons. I disagree that Macy’s problem is coupons. It is much more than that. It is a multitude of problems created by themselves. It is funny that every month that their poor sales figures come out they blame something – the weather, a change in promotions, couponing, customers needing to be re-educated due to their “confusion” over the change in merchandise. This is hysterical considering Macy’s competitors have double digit increases (Nordstrom, Saks VonMaur on the high end, Penney’s, Kohl’s etc on the low end and Dillards in between). Dillard’s associates have told me they have seen a marked increase in their business since Foley’s demise. The arrogance of Terry Lundgren is appalling. Just admit you made a mistake and bring back the regional identities and traditions as well as the better merchandise. Atlantans are still not over Rich’s nor are Floridians over Burdine’s, Californians over Bullock’s/Bullock’s Wilshire, I Magnin, The Broadway, Robinsons, May and the list goes on and on. Folks across the country are sick of the cookie cutter stigma across the board. Everywhere you go are the same banks, department stores, restaurants. As I said before, Macy’s downfall is their own fault. They should have been a good merchant and listened to the customer prior to abolishing all the regional nameplates and all the other changes. It is NOT ABOUT COUPONS. Bring back Foley’s!!!

    By the way, I found a link to an old Foley’s commercial that shows how treasured the name was to the Southwest – This commercial is from the mid 80’s prior to Foley’s expanding into Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Louisiana… thus their slogan then of “At the heart of Texas”
    Go to Google Video (YouTube) and type in Foley’s department store


  22. I hear ya, Rich. I live in Texas, and the mall used to have a neat Foley’s. It was classic 80s…it had these white columns on it and everything. It was also neat because it was only part of the mall that had a second floor. It also had this wood-themed tile. I hate the Macy’s that replaced it. The beautiful building is now scarred with Macy’s….bring back Burdines and Foley’s and Marshall Field’s and Rich’s and Strawbridge’s and everything…


  23. Yeah here in Michigan (and prob in the Midwest) alot of people are sad and angry about the Macy-ated way that Marshall Fields were taken away. I know a family friend who worked at a Marshall Fields and she quit a month after her store was converted because the new management were incompetent and blamed her and her co-workers for dropping business. Seriously it’s not her fault that Macy is so hated here in Michigan and around the country.

    *sigh* At least we have Parisian (or Belk in other states) stores that people like to go to. But people still miss Marshall Fields.


  24. Get over Macy’s, people! First, Federated owned most of the chains mentioned that converted to Macy’s long before they purchased Macy’s in 1994. Macy’s didn’t take over all the chains, Federated took over Macy’s! and 11 years later converted all their stores (in name only as the Macy’s stores were being operated as Federated stores….not the other way around). The Burdines office is still in Miami being run by the same people who ran the stores when they were called Burdines. Same with Bon Marche’, Rich’s/Lazarus/Goldsmiths. Foleys and Filenes were originally Federated stores sold by Campeau in 1988. As far as fields is concerned, the office is still in Minneapolis and is being run by the same group of people who ran it before Federated bought it. While the narrow minded poople on this blog might not like macy’s, Plenty of people do. A 13%+ same store sales increase in November 2007! And Macy’s is doing great in Texas, and there is no “new management” in Michigan, so that blogger was lying when she made her comment!


  25. i agerr with andy we do need to get past this macys keped state st open and every thing is much the same as always.thay have sofar keped the downtown stores open and in tact even in st louis ware may co. should have given up years ago . i think bon ton is one that the people in chicago should be mad at thay came in and then closed state st store ware wer the protesters for that downtown was not the same withought a trip to carsons this year and ioh my wonte it be fun to walk though the same louis sulivan dores into steve and barrys witch is roomerd to be moving there next year along with a whole foods why i say why


  26. Andy, I think what danroman was talking about was the change in corporate policy, not a change in the executives who run the individual divisions. Things like buying out the experienced sales staff so they can hire on more part-time kids who have little investment in their job, nearly halving commission rates, belittling employees for poor store performance, and so on.

    I’m not seeing where you found the figure that the same-store sales had risen any 13%, but I do know this; As of December 20th, Macy’s stock reached a 52-week low. In August of this year, the company’s profits had decreased 77%. The first of these facts can be verified at, as for the second, Google “Macy’s” and “77%” to reach a litany of information.

    In all of this, I can’t help but wonder; Target does still own the rights to the Dayton-Hudson names, right? I mean, they own and use and (though oddly not, which if they didn’t own could be contested in court and granted to the owner of the name. On top of that, items in their store often bear either name which could possibly constitute proof of copyright use.

    If this were true, It would be really pretty funny if Dayton’s and JL Hudson’s came roaring back and beat Macy’s. It would be like you kicking someone’s ass who’s wearing a pair of your old pants that you donated to Goodwill.


  27. With all due respect, Andy, it is you who is lying when you are trying to suggest that all of the converted nameplates are being run the exact same way as they were prior to the conversions. Somehow, I don’t recall Burdine’s, Filene’s, Rich’s, Marshall Field’s, etc., selling junk store brands such as Alfani, Charter Club, INC, and Style & Co. However, I do recall that these stores looked absolutely magnificent in appeareance and had quality salespeople, which is in sharp contrast to the dumpy atmosphere and horrid customer service present at Macy’s. Additionally, prior to the name change, these now defunct stores never ripped people off with tremendously overpriced merchandise. In fact, all of the stores (aside from Marshall Field’s) charged far better prices than Macy’s ever did. (And, while it’s true that Marshall Field’s had higher prices than Macy’s, that was because that store sold cream of the crop brands such as Armani and Prada, both of which were dropped once the red star of communsim took over.)


  28. Even though my parents don’t care for my love of interior malls, my father and mother despise Macy’s. My dad knows the red star hanging outside the former Foley’s at the local mall is like the “red star of communism” and my mother quit shopping at Foley’s/Macy’s because Macy’s did not carry the clothing brands she likes. She prefers Penney’s or Sears.


  29. Also, I don’t shed tears for the Emporium-Capwell takeover. It was well before Macy’s converted to “the dark side” and was still seen as trendy and upscale, and even the store was gutted, it created an amazing dome visible from the mall interior. It is now part of Westfield San Francisco Centre.


  30. I certainly didn’t hope that posting these pictures would produce such a commentary. Perhaps that is the emotion that is felt when we see examples of how things used to be. Myself, my favorite(?) photo is of Miller & Rhoads from December 1989. Though no formal announcement had been made at that time, everybody knew that this was their last Christmas. Look at the sparse selection of merchandise, look at the drooping decorations. (The store would close a few weeks later.) But almost 75,000 people visited Santaland that year. (The tradition still lives on at a Children’s museum.)

    My other favorite photos are of the Strawbridge & Clothier store in Philadelphia. This store, even up to its closing with ‘non-family management’ was the epitome of class in department store retailing. The merchandise may not have been the highest end but it certainly wasn’t the lowest either. It is hard to see it gone.

    All of the other pictures are meant to just evoke memories. Each region, each city shared its own personal memories. They are not posted as a way to thumb their noses at Federated, now Macy’s. However, I am sad that I am no longer able to visit a certain section of the country and go to the local store. Feel and see the traditions. (Yes, Atlanta has its tree, and Philly has its (albeit) reduced Light Show, Seattle has its star.) But it all is different now. Along with the service and the merchandise.

    8th and Market St. in Philadelphia used to have the highest concentration of department stores than any other corner in the country. (Strawbridge’s, Lits and Gimbels.) By the 1930s, almost 25%(!) of all retail business in the city was sold by the 6 department stores. But things have changed. I tried to avoid that change and stuck with the ‘local’ stores and names as much as possible. In recent years, that became harder to do. Now with Macy’s, what was fun and special is gone. So as I say ‘Merry Christmas’, I ask you to enjoy the photos. As for my wallet, it has found other places to shop. But to see that Strawbridge’s store in Center City Philly empty, pains me. What is down the street is just not the same. (It doesn’t even have a home department!) And many people seem to know it. Just ask.


  31. I’m not familiar with any of these chains, but it still envokes memories for me me of my state’s ‘classic department stores. For Milwaukee and Madison, it was Gimbles and Boston Store (prior to Carsons’ takeover in 1990, before and during their Federated ownership in the 1970s). For my neck of the woods, the H.C. Prange Co., whose Green Bay and Sheboygan downtown storefronts were decked out in Christmas holiday goodness.

    When Younkers took over Prange, everyone around here was rather cold to the idea, and frankly I think some people still are….no different than peoples’ reception to Macy*s takeover of regional chains. I still fondly recall holidays at the malls in my region, and long-gone chains such as Prange Way (they had quite the toy section, I remember). Or like when Kohl’s used to just be soley Wisconsin and northern Illinois-based… they’re everywhere.

    Images like these help me keep these memories alive in my mind. I try not to let current retail events get in the way of that. They remind us of the past, a simpler time in life. That’s how I see it.

    Merry Christmas to the folks at Labelscar.


  32. Does anyone have pictures of the aforementioned Hess’s Soldiers?


  33. I agree with Richard and Jonah, I live in Horrible Houston, TX and I MISS FOLEY’S. But I am originally from Louisiana and I also miss Goudchaux’s/Maison Blanche, Sanger Harris, Abdallas (a very small version of a Foley’s type store) McCrae’s and Gus Kaplan. I was very pissed when Foley’s gave in to sell out to Macy’s. I am surprised that the Greenspoint (Gunspoint) location is even still open. They closed the second floor and moved all departments to the first floor. All they did was block the escalators and it looks kind of dismal. Of course I am even surprised that Sharpston location is still open to, since that dump of a mall is more of a flea market than a real mall now a days.
    Of course as unhappy as I am with Macy’s I still shop there from time to time, certainly won’t give my money to Wal Mart unless I am forced to. I think it sucks that a couple of generations of kids now don’t remember any cool discount stores like I do. Woolco, Woolworths, TG & Y, Wackers, Super 10, Perry’s, ME Moss all these stores are gone now thinks to WALLY WORLD!!!!


  34. To Allan:

    Leh’s was a very small regional chain, localized to the Lehigh Valley in PA. They had a flagship store in downtown Allentown, one in the Whitehall Mall near Allentown, and one in Quakertown PA. That’s it. Very old fashioned. I loved their downtown store, and miss it as I do Hess’ (and their soldiers, and the Strawberry pie in their restaurant). It wasn’t really long from the time I met my husband and began travelling to that area to the time when those stores sadly began going belly-up.

    The Globe was a store in downtown Scranton PA, and was the only one of it’s kind. It languished when the economy took a downturn in the 70’s. In the early 90’s, the city built a new mall downtown (which took up a bunch of dilapidated buildings) and attached it to The Globe via a skyway, but the store closed about one year later.


  35. Hello,
    what a beautiful site.
    Do you happen to know which store started the holiday window tradition and when? I bet it was in NYC. Thanks, L Powell


  36. Wow, so much name calling on a public blog.

    Here’s the link to the November sales report that shows Macy’s had 13.4% increase in sales:

    The Macy’s of today is a construct of the old Federated Department Store. Federated acquired Macy’s in 1994 not the other way around. Federated bought Rich’s in Atlanta in 1976, while Macy’s had bought their competitor Davison-Paxton in 1924. Federated operated the two chains independently for years after the Macy’s acquisition in 1994 until it proved ill-advised.

    As for the old May Department Stores that Federated acquired in 2006 they had been changing names of stores for years. The Robinsons-May was a construct from the early 1990s from their two Los Angeles chains of May Company and JW Robinson’s (incidentally May Company was originally the Hamburger Department Store which May had acquired in the middle 1920s). Daniels and Fischer in Denver was acquired in 1957 and it’s name changed to May D&F. Finally May Department Stores had standardized everything in all of their stores by 2006 anyway including advertising, the May font, even down to the manager’s welcome sign at the entrances.

    Macy’s is here to stay. If we don’t go to the stores, they’re going to close them and the department store era will finally be over (and so will the malls).


  37. With Macy’s being, in most cases, the sole option for department store shopping (putting aside Sears and JCPenney), I already feel that the department store era is over. As for the malls, some malls may make it, some malls will reinvent themselves, some malls will simply go away. ‘Labelscar’ is the name of this site. A labelscar is a mark or ‘scar’ of where a company’s logo used to be displayed. This site pays homage to that.

    Yes, May took over many stores and merged from within. I have countless newspaper articles that express outrage over such actions. Dillard’s did the same. But now with the May-Macy merger, there is no choice for many. The changeover to Macy’s, in name, merchandise and service has alienated many shoppers. But yes, the era of the department store is almost over. Enjoy the few that you can. (For a real experience, go to the Boscov’s in downtown Wilkes-Barre, PA. This store, formerly called the Boston Store still has original Boston Store signage. It is a full department store, with a restaurant and food section but is in desperate need of a renovation. It’s worth a special trip for a trip down memory lane.) I only hope that the cycle of the local or regional department store may start up again in the future (highly unlikely in the near term) and I will take advantage of specialty stores like Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom while I can.


  38. One last thing. I wanted to address the November 13.9% sales gain posted by Macy’s in November. I hope the following helps to support the argument from ‘the other side’. I promise to try to restrain myself in the future on any discussion involving Macy’s. Please read the entire article in order to see how this sales gain was accomplished.

    This is an excerpt from the Portland Business Journal:

    Frosty weather and holiday gift offerings helped push sales at Macy’s Inc. up 13.9 percent in November, compared with the month before.

    But the calendar also made an impact, putting an extra week of post-Thanksgiving shopping in November rather than December, the retailer said in a news release.

    Macy’s said sales for the four weeks ended Dec. 1 totaled $2.7 billion, compared with $2.4 billion in the same 2006 period. Sales rose 13.4 percent on a same-store basis.

    “This calendar shift will result in our December sales being lower than last year,” said Terry Lundgren, chairman, president and CEO, in the release. “It is important that the November-December selling season be viewed together rather than each month individually.”

    The company estimated December sales will be 4 percent to 7 percent lower, year over year.

    Year to date, Macy’s reported sales of $20.4 billion, up 1.2 percent from $20.2 billion in the comparable 2006 period, and same-store sales increased by 0.7 percent.

    Fourth-quarter same-store sales should be in the range of down 2 percent to up 1 percent, Macy’s said.


  39. What if the era of the mall (not the department store) is almost over, and lifestyle centers will crash and burn in the next 10 years, while malls simply fade…

    I mean, when indoor malls came on the scene, they were unique in every way. Different architecture, different stores, different clientele. All of the new “lifestyle centers” (and sadly, many malls) offer to the same upper-class/upper-middle-class people, all have the vapid whitewashed look, and all the same stores (for lifestyle centers, it’s stuff like Chico’s, Coldwater Creek, and others).

    Malls that do not cater to that conformity are scorned, for having “weird people”, “junk stores”, “dated architecture”, etc.

    When we’re all adults…and I don’t mean drinking age (many of us are), but old geezers with grandkids…will our kids not know of the great shopping place you actually had to physically get out of your house and GO TO?


  40. eh I don’t think the concept of malls will fade away. There’ll always be the super-regional malls and power centers that draw locals and tourists alike to shop, eat and hang out at. And sure while these malls will stick with the “high-end” stores the least we can say is that those chains wont go anywhere (with the exception of Jasmine Sola of course but that was because of a company selling mistake).

    To play devil’s advocate, while most malls are white-washed today, I think the same thing could be said in the 70’s when most malls had brown earth tones and terracota floors, and the 80s when most malls had neon lights and white/pink/teal colors splashed around. The trend now with malls are with the white.beige color and kiosks that we see nowadays but you can’t help it. And there are some popular malls with different looks so it’s not all bad.
    Lifestyle Centers are a different story. Unless they are hybrided with regional and super-regional malls, I don’t see the stand alone ones staying anytime soon. JMHO.


  41. Malls were unique in their being enclosed and climate controlled. The first generation had stores already familiar to people from 1950s shopping plazas and downtown areas. The stores had a much wider skew, in terms of price points than malls currently have and even malls in relatively upscale areas had many low end clothing & shoe stores like Peterie, Richman Bros., Thom McAn, etc., chain drug stores and often a Woolworth. Department stores tended to have “budget stores”, descended from the downtown bargain basements. These low end chains mostly faded in the 80s and 90s and their replacements tended to be more upscale. At the same time, big boxes and off-price retailing grew and took alot of the middle class bargain hunters with them, changing people’s shopping habits and taking them away from malls. Malls needed to reach a more affluent cleintele in order to survive, or have a bigger geographic reach (preferably both). Smaller malls and those in areas without much affluence (esp. if they had a lot of crime) have been the first to die, along with those cannibalized by newer nearby malls.

    Mall design has been pretty uninspired from the beginning. By the mid-60s, major developers like DeBartolo were building very standardized malls. They might have a fountain and atrium in the middle, but basically, the rest of the mall was nothing special. The much loved Victor Gruen type malls were the exceptions, not the rule. The 1950s plazas that malls replaced were equally (if not more) uninspired, with a few exceptions.

    As malls have died, it’s become evident what white elephants they are, in terms of redevelopment. It’s expensive to turn them into anything else and the mom & pops don’t do as well as they would in a place where someone can see them and park in front of them. Lifestyle centers are much more flexible in their construction and layout; a failing lifestyle center can more easily be changed into something else (e.g., an office park) and space can be reconfigured at less expense than with a mall. Demolishing a couple small buildings for a new big one is much easier than messing around with mall space. Plus, the management doesn’t have the expense of heating/cooling/maintaining interior common areas. The lifestyle center model can be used with upscale and very oridnary stores. The one near my old Atlanta neighborhood has very middle of the road anchors (Kroger, Target, B&N, Lowe’s) and a very run of the mill selection of stores. From a an investment standpoint, the lifestyle center makes more sense. At some point, the market will get saturated, but it may have more legs than the mall. There are still well-functioning 1950s shopping centers that have managed to successfully evolve over time, as long as they had decent demographics and location–that is essentially the lifestyle center prototype.


  42. Right. But when will people realize this open-air technicolor world of Lifestyle Centers is nothing more than what the 50s shopping centers were…strip malls?


  43. That’s the whole point though.

    Basically the idea of the ‘strip center / plaza’ has come full circle. People have embraced them again. There’s some plaza-type malls built back in the 1950s-early 1960s that were on the brink of being completely vacant by the late 1990s, and now thanks to new businesses opening up in them….along with new anchors razing and rebuilding old anchor spaces, they’re realizing a revival.

    Also strip centers and so-called ‘lifestyle centers’ only look rather ‘fake’ with their storefront design due to new codes that cities have put down…..basically a mall can’t look like a ‘mall’ anymore….the exteriors have to have (sometimes) very specific design elements, or else the project is rejected by the city.

    While I’m no fan of big box and strip retail developments, they do look more asthetically pleasing than the strip malls of old, which had a uniform design and looked rather ‘cheap’. I give them that much.


  44. I enjoyed pic #6, of the San Francisco Emporium… brought back great memories when I used to hang out at the store after school during the 90s. And the peeping of the glass esclator in the picture pays homage to the history of the art-deco design of it; it too has been restored and kept, along with the dome, within the Emporium side of the San Francisco Centre.


  45. It was obvious by the late 70s, that malls were becoming standardized in selection (the same stuff in a dozen different stores at the same price), design, and ambiance. In other words, they weren’t very interesting and they became very interchangable. I can understand a nostaglia for one’s local mall, but the demise of malls is the demise of a format that ultimately made shopping a lot less interesting and ultimately has collapsed (to some extent) because of the narrow demographics and retail foci that have resulted from the way malls evolved. most of the surviving super regionsals will keep thriving and most have breadth enough to serve the functions that urban downtowns once did. OTOH, given the success of lifestyle centers, I suspect that many people lack the time or patience to walk half a mile from Sears to Penney’s to make a purchase that’s easier when you can park a shorrt distance away, and that seems to trump air conditioning.


  46. I think the one thing that’ll kill most lifestyle centers will be high gas prices. When gas hits te $4 mark, I can be sure that most people will not drive to one of these centers and then drive around it to park in front of a store. I’m sure there are some lifestyle centers that are built in a way that people can walk around them, but for the strip-style ones they’ll hurt from the gas prices.


  47. The Rich’s pictures almost made me cry. When I was going to school in Atlanta in the early 80’s, I was luck enough to know a member of the Rich family. I can’t imagine what she would have thought of the demise of the downtown store, if she lived to see it. I bought my first cd player there around 1981 or 82. Thanks for the beautiful holiday shots.


  48. What a treat to see a picture of The Globe Store in Scranton. Like everyone else, seeing a pic like this brings back such memories. There is NOTHING like classic downtown department stores.

    Now I am aching to go to Santaland on the 5th floor of The Globe, pick up lunch with my Grandmother at The Charl-Mont restaurant and check out the books in the book department, which was conveniently located next to the candy counter!
    Also, it makes me ponder just what the series of mysterious “ding, ding, ding”s you would hear from time to time on the sales floor.

    I can picture the gold-colored backs with the big script “G” in Globe and the smaller print underneath “A Division of John Wanamaker”. Yet another classic store long gone.

    Awesome memories! Thanks!


  49. Nice Christmas pictures! And about Macy’s and Fields and Kaufmanns, and Filene’s…what’s in a name, I dont care where i shop as long as it’s a mall, not an outdoor, outside mall, heck, that’s a glorified strip mall, a mall should be 2 or more anchors like Macy’s or Belks, enclosed, a food court and parking around it, not viceversa, by the way, I think that Macy’s is just as good as The Jones Store ever was, heck, even Marshall Fields was more gansta than Jones Store ever was, i dont miss them, like they say, a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. Just give it a rest! Macy’s is here to stay, whether we like it 🙂 or dont 🙁


  50. I, too, don’t much care for Macy’s takeovers of every chain they can grab. But noting the above photos… Wanamaker’s of Philadelphia, later Hecht’s, then Lord & Taylor? This store, now a Macy’s, contains the world’s largest functional pipe organ, over 28,000 pipes in over 450 ranks (sets). And Macy’s has done one good thing – they’ve continued the daily organ recitals, and assisted in maintaining the instrument. In my own city, however (Seattle) Macy’s swallowed up the old local favorite, the Bon Marche. The malls just aren’t the same without Bon Marche’s kind of class.


  51. i should know i MISS both thalheimers AND miller and rhodes “shhhhh where christmas IS a legend” (BLUSH) i always got CHILLS when i heard that legendary miller and rhodes ad


  52. what macy’s should have did here in va is BRING BACK milller and rhodes AND thalhelmers instead of the BLAND and BORRING macy’s name


  53. I must admit that Macy’s Center City Philadelphia did their market research and has done a lot to retain the Christmas traditions of the stores that came before it. Although the former Wanamaker Building houses the store, it is a tiny fraction of the site’s foot print. They completely re-created the Wanamaker light show in LED lights and hired Julie Andrews to narrate the script– Macy’s didn’t decide to kill the dancing fountains, it was the Grand Court Organ’s preservation society that nixed that for sake of the instrument. they also saved the Christmas Carol walk-through exhibit (although they undid Woodie’s gorgeous restoration of the Egyptian room to house it (ugh). They added a home department that’s classy. I thank them for not throwing EVERYTHING away,


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