A place to recall and celebrate the wonderful stores of a Downtown Boston now alive only in our memories
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
Looking Back at Lechmere Sales Company....Healthy Competition Just Outside Retro Boston!!
Hello, My Fellow Retro Boston Lovers!
Today we visit a great store once located just outside of Boston in East Cambridge...a place that became one of the “retail hot spots” in Boston to hunt for electrical appliances, household goods, entertainment needs, sporting goods and the list goes on....I present the one and only....Lechmere Sales Company!!!
I have had many requests to look at stores, like Lechmere Sales, that were located just outside of Boston and were part of the shopping circuit we all enjoyed on those shopping trips of yesterday.
Lechmere Sales gave the big Boston department stores some very healthy competition in those retro shopping days and I can recall being taken to Lechmere’s from the late 60’s onward to purchase various items that my parents decided were better buys than those to be had in the bigger stores in Boston.
The large floor layout and rows upon rows of top-name appliances made a visit to Lechmere Sales fun and exciting. Plus....that great conveyor belt coming down from the warehouse area above was great to watch and was a bit of a centrepiece in the original 88 First Street location. I used to love to stand near it and watch all the various boxes of goods come rolling down from above. It’s amazing how easy to please children can be! Oh, yes indeed!
Another memorable feature was the music department that included a plentiful selection of records and tapes....it rivalled the famous one in Boston’s Jordan Marsh Annex during the 1960’s and 70’s.
Lechmere Sales Company began its life back in the early decades of the 20th century as a harness-making shop. The shop grew from carriage needs to auto needs and then in the 1940’s.....the addition of electrical appliances came along.....and the name was changed to Lechmere Tire and Sales Company. The word “tire” would be dropped by 1950....and most of us would fondly call the sprawling retailer located just over in East Cambridge....Lechmere’s.
The original store was located at 4 Cambridge Street and moved into 88 First Street in 1956. The First Street location, a renovated bus garage, soon grew too small and was completely modernized and extended in 1963. The larger, brighter space with loads of free parking made Lechmere Sales a very dynamic competitor in the 1960’s Boston shopping scene. Another perk was its prime location at the end of the MBTA Green Line....not bad positioning at all!
The company was founded and owned for many years by the Cohens. The Cohen family remained in sole control of the company until the late 1960’s (the Cohens were in charge of day-to-day operations until the mid-1970's) when they sold it to a larger parent company in order to fund further expansion into suburbia. The store in Cambridge was the flagship location with the Dedham store added in 1965.
The change of ownership and increased capital led to rapid growth and by 1977 they had five stores and a very loyal following in New England....the amount of print ads for Lechmere Sales at this point in time was astounding!
Lechmere’s had a few memorable catch phrases over the years such as...
“Where you pocket the difference” and “the more store” being the most used in TV, radio and print.
The logo of the antique lamp post was very endearing and was first used around 1960 and lasted well into the mid-1970’s.
As I grew up and left home, I found myself using Lechmere Sales for purchasing my major appliances and other electrical goods well into the early 1990’s. The big stores of Boston had long since given up selling large household appliances but Lechmere Sales was still there....and provided that all important factor....great selection at reasonable prices!!
Sadly, like most of our original Boston retailers, Lechmere Sales was sold too many times to various parent companies and finally ended up in the hands of Montgomery Ward in 1994. The now legendary New England chain store was never properly managed after this last sale and all locations were closed down in 1997 as part of Montgomery Ward’s own financial woes.
Let’s enjoy this look back at Lechmere’s power years from the late 1940’s into the 1970’s.
Boston born, Brookline raised Retro Boston Cultural Historian and very eager to get as many memories, photos and newspaper adverts of the once grand stores of the Downtown Boston we all knew and loved. Also I am very busy researching Boston area churches of the past that have since closed or merged into others. All who remember are welcome to contact me with their thoughts, memories and photos to add to any of my blogs.
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