beverly hills polo club shirts golden days of Christmas shopping
Downtown Canton was the mecca of holiday shopping decades ago. Purses, shoes, toys, clothing, radios, vinyl records it was all available in the bustling stores along Market and Cleveland avenues. Standing along Tuscarawas Street W near her home on Grand Drive NW, Pfaus again 10 years old, waiting for a city bus with her mother to be whisked downtown for Christmas shopping.
For a moment, the former Cantonian paused on the telephone, her voice momentarily faltering with emotion. What she saw were Christmas lights and decorations strewn about downtown and adorning street lights and poles. Sidewalks bustled with men and women and boys and girls, shuffling from department store to department store among other retailers.
Santa Claus was on the scene, children nestled on his lap declaring their Christmas wishes. This was downtown Canton in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s. The golden days of holiday shopping, the county’s epicenter of gift buying.
Snowfall transformed downtown into a magical world in the eyes of a child, the image replaying in Pfaus’ head like a favorite home movie as she talked by phone from her South Carolina home. “I would hold my tongue out and catch some of those snowflakes.”
The retail landscape was vastly different. Black Friday wasn’t a popular term. Stores didn’t open on Thanksgiving. Computer based shopping was decades in the future. But those years were clearly the precursor to the modern day shopping zaniness accompanying the holiday season.
A perusing of vintage holiday themed advertisements in The Canton Repository chronicles the evolution of Black Friday a tradition continuing on Thanksgiving as the newspaper delivers a whopper edition abundant with news and advertisements for Sears, Best Buy, SteinMart, local businesses and scores of other retailers.
Decades earlier, before the advent of shopping malls and myriad plazas, newsprint advertisements urged Stark County residents to take advantage of pre Thanksgiving sales as well as the bargains to follow the day of poultry, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin caps, radios, handkerchiefs, sonic ray pistols
Here’s a smattering of bygone advertisements. Penney. Do it Today! Do it Today! Do it Today!
“Wednesday Only, Before THANKSGIVING. Stark Dry Goods COUPON DAY. Malted milk balls 14 cents a pound. $1.69 wool vests. $1.99 corduroy pants. 69 cent dresses. 50 cent flannel shirts. Women’s sample footwear for $1.98 in select sizes.”
“Christmas Early Bird Layaway Event! Altman Jewelry.”
“Open Friday Night. Red Arrow Streamliner Electric Train Ride. Meet Santa Claus himself . in person at Toyland on the fourth floor of Kobacker’s.”
Arcade Market advertised buckwheat flour for 32 cents a pound as well as a shipment of dolls that had just arrived before Thanksgiving. “Lay one aside for Christmas . $1 and $2 values for 49 cents and 69 cents with the purchase of a pound of coffee that is and ground the way you get the best results.”
The Parisian Co. advertised Christmas gift boxes and sold fur trimmed coats ranging from $39.95 to $250, leather coats from $16.95 to $29.95, costume jewelry from $1 to $8.95 and handkerchiefs from 25 cents to $1.95.
Stern and Mann promoted men’s socks for 50 cents each, a hand forged aluminum relish tray for $3 and a pearl necklace for $2.
Kobacker’s marketed “50 cents day.” Merchandise included feather pillows, knit caps for boys and girdles.
Another store lured shoppers with free gifts, including a 1941 Console radio with any purchase of $28 or more.
Toy stores enticed children with sonic ray pistols for $1.98 (including batteries), a doodle bug racer for $1.49 and Happi Time electric train for $19.98.
Department stores, carriage rides, ice skating, caroling
A whimsical quality fills Pfaus’ voice when she recalls those days.
“We’d get all dolled up,” she said, reveling in the memories.
“All the storefronts were decorated,” she said. “Kobacker’s was my favorite . they had one of those little indoor trains for children. They had (the store) all decorated for Christmas, and, of course, you’d have your picture taken with Santa Claus.”
“It was all in downtown Canton and everybody, regardless of which section of town you lived in, came there,” Pfaus enthused. “It was bustling, and should you be lucky enough to have the snow fall . it was just seventh heaven down there.”
A former downtown retailer, Frank Fleischer, also recalls those times with a sense of wonder. He owned and operated Fleischer’s the company his father, Phillip, established in Middleton before opening a store in downtown Canton in 1920, specializing in orthopedic footwear. swarm of holiday shoppers didn’t begin until the morning after Thanksgiving. The 86 year old summed up the moment in time: “It was a hell of a lot of fun.”
Fleischer admitted he reminisces about those days this time of year. “We always had a Christmas parade. There was a Santa Claus on the square with street decorations and a very, very strong downtown merchant’s association.