Christmas shopping in downtown department stores

They’re all now gone, the list of iconic department store names that once drew shoppers to a shopping district that was said to rival anything in New York City.

Starting in Public Square with Higbee’s and The May Company, the procession continued east on Euclid Avenue to Sterling Lindner Davis and Halle Bros.

Sterling Lindner Davis Christmas Tree, Access was easy as trams provided transportation out of the residential neighborhoods at a time when shopping was viewed as a special occasion and private cars were not universal. Women wore hats and gloves, men wore suits and ties.

For the rest of their lives, little girls who ponder as adults will remember their mothers and grandmothers who took them to destinations like Higbee’s and its Silver Grille restaurant.

Many still mourn these places to this day.

One of the sights not to be missed was the Christmas tree, which is sold each year in the Sterling Lindner Davis Store on Euclid Avenue at East 13. is issuedthat Street. The tree selected was typically 50 feet tall and is believed to be the largest indoor Christmas tree display in the world.

Mid 20ththat Century Cleveland was home to six major department stores: Taylor’s, Halle Bros., Bailey’s, Higbee’s, The May Company, and Sterling Lindner Davis. They all vied with each other to get customers.

The May Company was founded in 1898 and was an early presence in Public Square. The store was known for innovative business practices and was the first local department store to issue a personal business credit card in the summer of 1966.

The downtown store was an architectural gem designed by DH Burnham & Co. and renovated by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White.

After nearly a century in business, the May Company lost its identity through a merger with Pittsburgh-based Kauffman’s in 1993. The May Company’s former store has survived to this day and has recently been converted into The May Apartments.

Higbees Santa Claus, 1955The Higbee Company was a neighbor and friendly competitor of May Co. The store opened in September 1860. Promising first day sales were $ 100. The store started in Public Square and became a location in Playhouse Square before being lured back to anchor the Terminal Tower complex.

As the location for key scenes in the popular 1983 film “A Christmas Story,” Higbee’s Store in Public Square plays a role in one of the area’s most iconic Christmas stories. The film’s producers went out of their way to recreate the look of downtown shopping in the 1930s, and they succeeded admirably. Unfortunately this image only exists on celluloid. Higbee’s joined the Legion of Vanished Shops in 1993, was bought out and renamed Dillard’s.

The building still exists and now serves as the JACK Casino – a fate Ralphie and his friends from “A Christmas Story” could never have imagined – although JACK has been known to pull out these vintage window dressings from time to time.

The times have changed. The suburbs beckon, shopping centers and the almost constant presence of cars signaled the end of Christmas shopping in the city center. It is a great irony that the suburban malls themselves have largely gone the way of the downtown department stores they have replaced with demographic change and the simplicity of online shopping.

Today visitors who know where to look can go to a parking lot at East 13 junction. walkthat Street and Euclid Avenue and are roughly at the point where shoppers once marveled at the Sterling Lindner Davis Christmas tree.

Remember, all glory is fleeting.


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