New holiday shopping era
Boy has Christmas shopping sure changed! Now, many people are shopping online. That has created its own set of problems. Vendors are having trouble getting someone to ship their products. Last night on the news they told people not to go inside stores to shop. How are you going to shop now?
Back in the day – when I was growing up – we had two shopping districts in Dunkirk as well as an additional one in Fredonia. We went from store to store looking at the things they had for sale. All of the stores at that time were owned by local people except for Kresge’s and Woolworth’s. We had one of each of those in our downtown.
My mother and her sister used to go shopping every Friday night. They had worked all week and that was their relaxation. They went shopping then went to Rusch’s restaurant for coffee and pie or hot chocolate. Sometimes they went to Candyland in the down town sector.
I loved Candyland. Although it was a small space it had atmosphere. The wooden booths had mirrors by them. The high ceiling was made of tin and it really was pretty. Besides ice cream and sandwiches, they also sold boxes of candy put up to order. It always smelled so good in there.
Sometimes we shopped in Buffalo. Sometimes we shopped in Jamestown. Both of them offered even more products that we could find locally. My mother and I took the train to Buffalo. When we got off of the train, we boarded the street car for a ride to the downtown area. I remember watching the sparks as the street car went up the road.
When we shopped in Buffalo, we also enjoyed the store decorations. They had animated window displays as well as beautiful decorations inside. It was paradise for a child. Of course, I got to see Santa. At that time, they gave each child a small toy as a gift from Santa. I remember getting a Chinese Checker set. I had a lot of fun with that toy.
I loved the escalators. It was fun to go up and down on them. You could look all over the store. One of my great-aunts would not go on the escalator. We always had to wait for her by the elevators. I considered the escalator to be safer since if it stopped you could simply walk the rest of the way up or down.
Whether we shopped in Buffalo or Jamestown we always made a stop at the Fanny Farmer store. I especially liked the lollipops. I remember they were rectangular and the back of them had small ridges. Someone always bought me some of those.
In Jamestown we went to Bigelow’s and Nelson’s. Sometimes we went to Lerner’s, Grants and Sears. We usually spent the whole day shopping. Our last stop was Billings Bakery. We bought scorper and ate them on the way home. They always gave me a cookie. The sad part was that I did not like the kind of cookie they gave. It was a sugar cookie with jelly and a dab of frosting. I remembered my manners and said thank you. I carried it outside and gave it to my grandmother or one of her sisters.
When I was in high school, I worked at Sidey’s, another family owned store. When I turned sixteen, I went to Sidey’s and put in my application for work. My mother asked if I was going to apply anywhere else and I told her no. That is where I wanted to work.
I got a call to report for work the day after Thanksgiving. I was delighted.
That also meant that I got a discount at the store so that was a good thing. I was sure that I could find things for the people on my gift list. That first Christmas, my job was wrapping gifts. I made hundreds of bows. By the time I finished work I had little desire to wrap my gifts!
Once I got married, I shopped in Jamestown and Warren. I did not wait for the holiday season to begin my shopping. I tried to get good buys. Often, I found things on sale right after Christmas. I literally shopped all year long.
When the children took guitar lessons at Biekark’s music store, I left them for lessons and shopped in the Warren stores. I remember the year I found a wall-hanging with deer for my husband. Jill has that now. We added a board on the bottom to stabilize it, and a cord to hang it from.
Often, we bought a pizza to eat on our way home. We were always hungry by then.
One year I found a black coat for myself. I loved that coat because it had a hood that I could pull up when it was snowing. The only drawback was that the coat was extremely heavy. I soon got tired of wearing the heavy thing.
Shopping this year will not be like anything we have ever experienced before. I am happy that I only have my husband to buy for. He asked me the other day what I would like for Christmas. I told him I really did not need anything because we are not allowed to go anywhere.
I have all of this beautiful jewelry that he has bought for me and nowhere to wear it. In the end I found a ring on-line that I like so we ordered it. I told him not to pay me for it until it arrives and I decide if it is going to work. I really do not like buying things without seeing them.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.