Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Shopping in Rochester

This week's Black Friday-backed-up-into-Thanksgiving Day retail frenzy has given me pause to reflect upon the Christmas shopping habits of my family during my youth in Rochester. In our family, Christmas gifts were far from extravagant - a modest toy for a child, a useful object or item of clothing for an adult. That's not to say there weren't plenty of gifts under the tree in my family home - there definitely were. It's just that my parents, and the parents of others I knew, didn't go into hock for the rest of the year to underwrite their holiday largesse. Purchases weren't funded with credit cards; most families in my circle of acquaintance probably didn't even possess such a thing, except perhaps for a Kresge's revolving charge card. Instead they planned ahead and set money aside; sometimes with Christmas Club bank accounts, or with layaway plans that allowed them to make payments for merchandise over several weeks.

Downtown Rochester's holiday season kicked off with Window Night and the outdoor decorations consisted of candy canes mounted on the light poles and swags of colored lights festooning the street. A set of three large red bells hung suspended over each intersection and the lights inside the bells moved from left to center to right and back again. We thought those lights were pretty spectacular but they paled in comparison to the Big Bright Light Show that we see today.

Going to a shopping center in those days was rare treat. Most of our family's shopping was done on Main Street, Rochester, or in the stores in the North Hill Shopping Center. My parents most frequently visited Kresge's and Cunningham's on North Hill, along with D & C and Case's Hardware on Main (Case's had a great toyland that I remember fondly). When it was necessary to search further afield than Rochester for gifts, we usually took a family trip to Pontiac to visit the Sears store there. Being accustomed to the small shops of my hometown, I was overwhelmed by the seemingly enormous department store. Today, I am overwhelmed by the numbers of people who camp out in parking lots for days in order to be first in line to  to purchase the latest and greatest electronic gadget that will be hopelessly outdated before the next holiday season rolls around. Such spectacles make me positively nostalgic for simpler days.

Do you have Christmas shopping memories of Rochester?

1 comment:

  1. My favorite job was working at the D&C for 3 years. I miss that place so much. There isn't a day that goes by when I am at that corner that I don't think about how it used to look and the fun times I had there!