Classic department store?

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by Trenchfriend, Feb 17, 2021.

  1. Bushman

    Bushman My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,912
    Location:
    Chicago
    My town is another Illinois town packed with Sears homes. My aunt's first home was one of them. They're sweet little homes, and I adore how they look. I completely agree about the superiority of their construction and design.
     
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  2. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    9,406
    Location:
    My mother's basement
    My dear old ma did clerical work for Sears back when she was my dear young ma, nearly 60 years ago.

    Back then, going to Sears was a mini-vacation for me. A feast for the eyes, it was. Bicycles! Sporting goods! Color TVs! Who needs sugar plums with such latter-day wonders dancing in one’s head?
     
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  3. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    7,896
    Location:
    Chicago, IL US
    Sears catalog homes stand the test of time here in northern Illinois, a fierce architectural competitor
    within bungalow belted Chicago and nearby suburbs hugging its metro perimeter. A twenty-year trend
    has been our suburban tear down habit which inevitably produce larger rambles not nearly so aesthetic
    nor practical.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2021
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  4. Trenchfriend

    Trenchfriend

    Messages:
    10,194
    Location:
    Germany
    For a German, it's always freakin' to see, that so many american houses got their frontdoor at the living room! That would be impossible in a Biedermeier society like old Germany.
    Or is it the reason, why the US comedy-series showing the protagonists coming through the backdoor, so often??
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2021
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  5. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The kitchen door was always used as the main door in my neighborhood when I was growing up -- that living-room front door was rarely used by anyone, and more than a few houses on our block, ours included, didn't even have a front doorstep. I was always told this was a way of reducing the property tax obligation by claiming that the house was "unfinished," but it seemed more like an active attempt to discourage anyone from trying to come in the front door.

    To this day, I usually enter my house by the back door. I allow my rosebush to overgrow to block access to the front door in a specific attempt to keep door-to-door solicitors away.
     
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  6. Haversack

    Haversack One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,180
    Location:
    Clipperton Island
    The front door-formal and back door-family dichotomy is common in the US but not exclusively so. If memory serves, it can also be seen in Peru. My experiences with it are particularly rural. At both my grandparents' ranch and my godfather's orchard, we always drove to the back of the house and entered through the kitchen or service door. I cannot remember the formal front door at my grandparents' house, (which btw opened directly into the living room), ever being opened. Growing up in suburban ranch-style houses, entry was almost always through the garage as going anywhere was by bicycle or car.

    As regards the front door opening directly into the living room in US houses, that was originally a rural, small-house feature done because it was cheap. It began to be found in suburban, upscale houses around the turn of the last century with the advent of the Arts and Crafts movement. The ethos of that movement espoused a lessoning of formality and an embrace of nature and natural materials.

    ff1914_2_orig.jpg

    This led to the development of the ranch-style house which quickly spread across the US in the post WWII era. One of the tenets of ranch-style and its descendants was to lessen the barriers between the inside and the outside so to 'bring the outside inside'. (You also found the open-plan concept and elimination of hallways being touted on the basis of freedom and efficiency during this time).

    *Of course the elimination of the entry hall or vestibule ignored both climate and the social need for social distance between the public and the private. Mind, having some form of entryway that allows for the collection of coats and boots, and helps keep bad weather from coming inside directly is still a real need for most.

    7af754785009d73cf50af2c4ddada290.jpg

    A good thumbnail pictorial history of houses in the US is Lester Walker's book, American Shelter. Pen and ink drawings illustrating the different architectural styles and also how houses were organized.

    51vOOiYdpAL._SL500_.jpg
     
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  7. dlite90

    dlite90 Familiar Face

    Messages:
    90
    Where is the front door in old German houses?

    Typically we put the living room near the front of the house to make a nice impression for guests and passersby who look in the window. But the front door will usually open to a foyer or hallway, rarely the living room directly. American sitcoms might make the door open there just for convenience.

    Also, with post-war American houses, a lot of people drive home and enter through the garage. In my childhood home we rarely used the front door, just the garage/basement door or back door.
    Increasing reliance on cars meant that, in the 1990s, it became common to stick the garage door on the front of the house (it used to be around back or the side). So the garage door became a prominent detail of the house, and it looks very tacky IMO.
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    [​IMG]
     
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  8. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    9,406
    Location:
    My mother's basement
    ^^^^
    Thanks for every word, Haversack. I’ll find a copy of the book.

    Our family’s house on what was then (most of the decade of the 1960s) the outskirts of Madison, Wisconsin was a modest early post-war rambler on a dead end gravel street with another eight or so identical houses (except ours had a garage attached a few years after it was built). The door which faced the street (and also the 80 acre field on the other side of the street) opened onto the kitchen. The back door was on the living room. That configuration was more practical for the sort of people those houses were made for — working-class families with kids, who got dirty and muddy playing in that field. Better to enter onto the linoleum kitchen floor.
     
  9. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    9,406
    Location:
    My mother's basement
    I agree. I don’t object to prominent garage doors on ramblers and other clearly post-war styles, but on a faux Tudor or Craftsman or whatever earlier style they are just wrong.
     
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  10. Trenchfriend

    Trenchfriend

    Messages:
    10,194
    Location:
    Germany
    Sometimes, it leads you into the main corridor. But very often, it leads you into the old-fashioned closed hallway/porch with a window, where you can undress your shoes and block the wind from the inner rooms.

    "V.O.R.H.Ä.U.S.C.H.E.N" :D

    [​IMG]

    But yes, garages sometimes do the job, too.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2021
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  11. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Detached garages were the dominant thing around here, and still are in older neighborhoods -- usually small, rickety buildings with wooden floors over piles, and outward-swinging wooden doors that might get replaced some time in the 1960s or so by an overhead door. We had only one house on our entire block with an integrated garage, and that was a much newer house than the rest of them. Since then a few others have integrated the garage with the main house by building some kind of enclosed connecting passageway, but they look pretty clumsy.

    An attached "shed" was a common thing on most older houses though -- that's what we called the little enclosed but unheated section where you took off your coat and boots before going into the kitchen, before realtors and HGTV hosts decided we had to call it a "mud room." But it's still a shed.
     
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  12. crawlinkingsnake

    crawlinkingsnake A-List Customer

    Messages:
    391
    Location:
    West Virginia
    When in Memphis, TN (10-e-c) walk down Beale St. to A. Schwab's. Started in the 1870's it's the oldest business on Beale and began as a department store. Now it's more for the tourists crowd, but they still offer various lower end fedoras, some drygoods, vinyl records, hoodoo objects, coffee/candy, etc. Well worth a visit.

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. Bushman

    Bushman My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,912
    Location:
    Chicago
    We had so many of those monstrosities built around town in the early 2000s. I find them absolutely obnoxious. Even the homes that sprouted up in the last few years on the few remaining empty lots look like this. These are homes that would have had to had been contracted to be built, and were not slapped together by a developer. I have no idea why ANYONE would choose to build a house that looks like this, other than having the convenience of the plans for them already drawn up.
     
  14. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    7,896
    Location:
    Chicago, IL US
    I've noticed several Beverly area houses resembling Sears basic design but larger more expansive construct.
    Ripoff. Similar seen rips further southward suburbia, not quite a Sears but standard steal set construction;
    sometimes right next door to a real Sears house. The present day tear-down "blowup" replacements look horrid.
     
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  15. Old Mariner

    Old Mariner One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    260
    I am essentially in the same position, mainly because of living in a rural area. I did quite a bit of online buying in the 2000's, but still went to malls and local stores. When I moved closer into town (essentially right "in downtown", but not "main street") in 2008, I still did local shopping (thrift stores and such) quite a bit. It was not until much later that this area (not this town specifically) got places like TJ Maxx (of which the nearest used to be about an hour away). I like that discount store because I can get natural toiletries at steep discounts, among other useful items. I would often buy my supplements online from Lucky Vitamin, as well as some natural toiletries, but I consider them "local" as they are in Pennsylvania, just quite a distance from where I live. That changed when the places like the aforementioned TJ Maxx came in, followed by Marshalls. I had stocked up on stuff from those places just before the pandemic hit, and my stockpile is still holding up. Another place that I get discounted toiletries is a very localized discount store. On one haul, I got 9 sticks of deodorant that I use for only $1.29/ea. Which is as about as cheap as I could probably get them, and saved me a lot of money. This was done not too long before the pandemic as well (Oct. 2019, I think).

    As for Amazon, my "gateway drug" to that was when I got a Kindle for Christmas in 2012 (if I recall right). I don't know if I would have really connected with Amazon had it not been for that.

    I understand a number of folks' dislike of Amazon, and their reasons, but I am at the point where Edward is. Amazon has become my "one stop shop" for many items that I would otherwise have to get from various places, and possibly pay shipping to boot, on top - and that really adds up, even if the shipping is kept to the low end of cost. The free shipping is a huge help to someone like me on a "fixed income", and as much as some may hate Bezos, I am thankful for his *idea*, which has been a help. I simply do not have the means (pandemic or not) to go running around everywhere to get stuff. I carpool with someone for "grocery day" as we call it, since we get our groceries together. Nor do I have the "manpower resources"(?) to call up to help me (which is why I am very thankful for all the delivery folks busting bum doing deliveries).

    The malls in my area are in steep decline - one was recently leveled and the land now being developed. One has some areas repurposed. Another, located on a major retail strip, is suffering horribly and has only one anchor left - Boscov's. If that mall were to fully close, I would be more upset at the loss of the pizza joint inside than anything else.
     
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  16. Old Mariner

    Old Mariner One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    260
    There is a Ben Franklin here in town where I live. I don't often shop there, however, especially since having done a price comparison on a dish rack/tray. This was some years ago, but the danged thing was somewhere around $12, and I got mine (essentially the same thing) for a fraction of the price at Walmart.

    They do have a discount section in the back however, and just a few years back (2019?), I picked up a bunch of natural facial wipes packs for only $1/ea. So, generally, if I do happen to be in there, it will be the discount section that I will be hitting up.
     
  17. Old Mariner

    Old Mariner One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    260
    Sounds just like my location. Granted, I do live not far from a UPS site. But in general, FedEx, UPS, and Amazon everyday...
     
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  18. The house I grew up in is too small for such nonsense. It had three doors through which you could enter/exit the house--the front door, which opened to the front yard/driveway/street; the back door, which opened to the enclosed back yard, and the door between the garage and the house which shared a short entryway with the back door. In order to enter the house from the street through any but the front door, you had to also unlock a gate (access to the back yard) or unlock and open the garage door, both of which were more work that simply using the front door.
     
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  19. Alex Oviatt

    Alex Oviatt Practically Family

    Messages:
    508
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    We were spoiled for choice when I was growing up--there was the spectacular temple to Art Deco, Bullock's Wlishire, I. Magnin, Robinson's (designed by the same architect that designed the iconic theme building at LAX) and our nearest Bullock's in Pasadena was a marvel but now a Macy's. The design and merchandising of store were unique and stood in contrast to many older department stores of the time. Bullock's Pasadena was among the first department stores in the country to be located outside of a downtown area and was intended to appeal to the emerging "carriage trade," or those shoppers arriving by automobiles. As such, the store was oriented toward an unheard of 6-acre (24,000 m2) parking lot located behind the structure. If it hadn't have taken, the plan be was to turn it into a hotel--literally they had it all planned that the perfume hall would be the lobby, lady's shoe department the dining room, etc.

    My father would take us to Sear's whenever he bought a power tool and they had a proper candy counter--even Sear's was a player, back in the day. So sad.
     
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  20. Rmccamey

    Rmccamey My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,800
    Location:
    Central Texas
    My thoughts are that there are very few truely different and unique products anymore. Most everything from groceries to clothing to phones to automobiles...even "department stores" under different names these days - are commodities built merely for convenience, consumption and disposal. Part of what attracts me to the Lounge is sharing stories and information with like-minded people about a handful of, shall we say "vintage" products, that were built to last; products that actually carried the makers reputation with it when it left the shop floor.
     
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