Uncle Sammy and I are in the early stages of outlining the postings for the Serrapede family history during the late 1950s-early 1960s. To give our readers and relatives a richer sense of what the time period was like in Brooklyn and Manhattan we plan to include parts of the everyday experience that is receeding into the past as the 21st century advances.
One of the experiences we are working on involves department stores. I remember my Mom and I discussing how you could estimate what a family’s economic status was by where they shopped most often. The merchandise at department stores such as Korvettes, Macy’s, Gimbels, Orbach’s, and Lord & Taylor was very different in quality. Each store, too, had a very distinct atmosphere. In Brooklyn there was A&S and Martin’s Department Store where my Mom and Grandma Josie shopped. And then there were the smaller stores like Rainbow Shops, Kresge’s, and May’s Department Store and Robert Hall that everyone we knew went to when the sales were right but rarely admitted to shopping at.
This topic needs research to either substantiate or disprove the casual observations my Mom and I shared so I’ll leave off the topic for now. What prompted me to write this post is that I went into Macy’s Department Store after completing the Excel Workshop in New York City today.
A Visit to Macy’s Herald Square
The first floor strikes me as glitzy with all the merchandise, monitors, music and attractive, open displays. There is a tangible lack of excitement despite all that.
I took the escalators up to each floor looking in earnest for saleshelp walking the floors, greeting the customers, and creating a favorable atmosphere for shopping. Instead I found high quality designer clothes that nobody was interested in. The people walking through the floors were more engrossed in their Android phones. Nobody was walking around sizing up the garments, touching the fabric, going from rack to rack in an attempt to create an ensemble from separates.
In all I felt a kind of sadness as I walked through all the empty space. My thoughts turned to Linden where I recently bought lingere at a very small boutique called La Columbiana. The saleswoman waited on me in the manner I remember my Mom taught me was the mark of a good salesperson and an indication of a shop that is worth doing business with. Because it is small, I received one-to-one attention while purchasing bras and shapewear. I was measured and catered to. The saleswoman brought numerous items for me to try on and eventually helped me make my mind up. It was a wonderful experience as I am so satisfied that these purchases are exactly what I need and want.
The same is true for a very small sportswear shop one block down from my apartment. It’s called Freddy’s Sportswear and is located on the ground floor below a few apartments. Freddie helped me coordinate jeans, tee-shirts, sweaters and pocketbooks when I went to get a few pieces for the Spring. It was so enjoyable to have him help me with the color co-ordination. I enjoyed the one-to-one of that shopping experience, too. In the lead up to leaving Brooklyn, I put off buying new clothes for some time. So I enjoyed finally getting new clothes for my new life here in my new home.
Here are some photos of Macy’s from today’s walk around the store. I was very surprised to find the very old wooden escalators still in operation in the upper floors of the store.
Photos of Macy’s 7-10-2019