A place to recall and celebrate the wonderful stores of a Downtown Boston now alive only in our memories

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

A Look At Some Smaller Shops In Retro Boston

Hello, Retro Boston Lovers!

Ron read J's memories and said:

Thanks. I don't recognize these store names; can you tell us more about them?

Peck and Peck, Chandler's, Coleman's, Conrad’s, Jay's??

Ron...You know I LOVE to tell more about the Boston stores of yesteryear and so I shall.

Both Conrad's and Chandler's were separate stores and had been in Boston for many years in and around what we now call Downtown Crossing. Both sold women’s apparel and had loyal customers. During those changing times for retail in Boston from the 1950’s onward, the owners of both stores felt a merger would strengthen their staying power. This was the same year Boston had lost R.H. White’s and Slattery’s (1957) and so Chandler’s sold their location on the corner of Tremont and West Streets and moved into Conrad’s store on Winter Street. The new store was now known as Conrad & Chandler’s and lasted until the late 70’s. The store was very much like R.H. Stearns and felt rather old style Boston. Long glass counters with hats and gloves attended by many older sales ladies hovering about wearing their eye glasses on chains around their necks. I recall the old inter-store phones hanging on the walls by each cash register with little brass bells on top that jingled when they rang. I think the building which was new in the mid-1920’s is still on Winter Street today with various businesses still using it.

Peck and Peck was chain of upper end women’s apparel and men’s neckwear stores and Boston got a branch in the 1920’s. It began in Boston on Arlington Street and moved over to Boylston Street near Copley Square by the mid- 1940’s. It last until the 1960’s or early 70’s. It was close to Best and Company...another New York based store with a branch in both Boston and Brookline.

Jay’s was on Temple Place right next to the rear of the C. Crawford Hollidge store.
It opened in 1918 and was an upper end women’s clothing shop more or less. It sold all kinds of goods for women on the various floors of the building. It lasted until the mid- 1960’s and had branches in several places in New England. The Boston location was the main store of this small Boston based company. The building still stands today on Temple Place and has been renovated greatly.

Coleman’s remains a mystery so far. I shall keep looking and hope to be able to tell you more soon!

Keep writing…keep asking…It is great to learn more about our retro Boston retail history!!


My thanks to The Bostonian Society and the wonderful images on file in their archives.

Monday, 30 August 2010

J Shares Her Memories of Boston Shopping Pre- 1958

Hello, My Retro Boston Fans!

J wrote and shared some wonderful memories from pre-1958 Boston and the shopping scene she recalled. I asked a few questions and she answered with some great little surprises...I never knew there was a milk bar for children in Jordan Marsh....neat!!

Here are some of her memories for you to enjoy:

I've been away from Boston since 1958.....and much has probably changed.
Anyway - sister and I were reminiscing about the old stores we remembered. Here's
our list, of course headed by Filenes and Jordan Marsh Company.
And in no special order:
Raymond's, Bonwit Teller, Peck and Peck, Chandler's
Gilchrist’s, Coleman's, Conrad’s, Crawford Hollidge,
Jay's, IJ Fox, R.H. Stearn's, Best & Co. (that was in Brookline near S.S. Pierce).

There was a children’s milk bar in Jordan Marsh(I think it was) on one of the upper levels. My mother would occasionally treat me to a milk shake (no ice cream in it).
I recall that the bar was low – child height- and the round-seat swivel bar stools were also low. I think the bar had a painted cowhide motif done in black and white, and a mural on the back wall.
It showed a cow jumping over the moon. I could not tell you if the dish running away with the spoon was part of the scene:-)

I recall a tearoom on a perimeter wall on the first floor. The tearoom entrance had a wall about waist high and when you peered into the interior, it was kind of dark. The outside of the tearoom was lit with orange glowing lights.

I don't remember where they sold the baked goods or if my mother ever bought any - but I do own the "Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffin" recipe, which I have made. I don't know if it's the best around, but it's good. Speaking of food… S.S. Pierce had the best hermits. Dorothy Muriel's (on Tremont St) weren't bad either.
If you ever get hold of the Thompson's Spa (Temple Place-West Street) recipe for Rice Pudding, I'd love to have it.

I don’t recall the main floor of RH White's (Charles asked me if I did) although I did work there part of one summer. They had a paint department and I think I mixed pigments into the paint for custom shades. I know I put
the gallon cans onto the shaker.

I think it was either Jordan's or Filene's (Jordan’s Annex) that had balcony around the sides…I think it was called a mezzanine.
Jordan's also had metal gated elevators, with a swing-out-from-the-wall little round seat that the elevator operator could use.
Each spring (I assume) Filene's would have the main floor hung with birdcages from which canaries chirped.

Thanks so much to J!!!!!!! Please keep the memories coming my way. I love to be able to share these wonderful, clear memories with our blog readers!!