ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Museums, Shopping, TRAVEL

Remembering Dallas Department Stores


Frequent visitors to my blog know I’m crazy for Neiman Marcus.  It’s a touchstone for my beloved Dallas.  I might be shopping in Atlanta’s NM, but I still feel right at home.  I’m devoted to Neiman’s because it’s the only thing left from my childhood shopping experiences.  Titche-Goettinger, Colbert-Volk and Sanger Harris all bit the dust.

My, How Things Have Changed

The transformation of the crisp turquoise-and-white-striped Titche-Goettinger bag into Dillard’s boring beige plastic thing was a disappointing retail slide for me.  My mom went to work for Titches back in the 60’s.  Along the way they merged with a San Antonio department store called Joske’s.  I didn’t think Joske’s had near the eclat of Titche’s.  For a few years, though they belonged to the same team, they each kept their own identity.  Finally, the Joske’s name won out, but at least it was still a Texas name.

Then along came Dillard’s, an Arkansas company, and bought out Joske’s.  I’d like to be able to say that I haven’t walked into the store since, but my mom retired with a 25% lifetime discount, so I’d be lying.  However, I would be telling the truth if I told you I missed that department store with the turquoise-and-white-striped shopping bags.

For all those decades my mom worked at Titches/Joske’s/Dillard’s her main competition was Sanger-Harris, but it was a friendly competition.  If we could buy it a mom’s store we would, but I had plenty of Sanger’s labels in my closet – especially stuff I’d bought at Red Apple days.  The prices were so low you felt like they were paying you to carry merchandise home.  Joske’s had EOM (end of month) markdowns that were often as drastic, but Red Apple Days just sounded like a lot more fun.

I had a grudging admiration for Sanger-Harris after Titche’s became Joske’s.  I wouldn’t have mentioned it to mother, but I thought they were winning the retail war.  Their stores seemed more upscale and their shopping bags were prettier.  I especially liked the exterior of the stores.  When you went to a mall Sanger’s always stood out, because they had gorgeous mosaic murals on the exterior.  You didn’t have to be able to read to know you’d arrived.

Sadly, Sanger Harris eventually went the same route as Titches.  First, they merged with a Houston retailer named Foley’s and ended up changing their name.  Then Macy’s bought them out, and not too many years ago, at that.  I remember visiting the Macy’s in Temple with my Aunt Edie shortly after the change-over.  We agreed we liked Sanger Harris better.

DMA to Remember, Too

With all these pleasant Sanger-Harris memories it is no wonder that I’m excited about a new exhibit on it’s way to the Dallas Museum of Art.  According to the latest issue of the museum’s member’s magazine, back in the 50’s a young VP of A. Harris & Company (which later merged with Sanger Brothers) commissioned an artist to create a series of paintings of Dallas.  The paintings were exhibited at the DMA a couple of times in the fifties, but they haven’t been in Dallas since.  Now they are coming back and will be presented with photos of my city taken at the time of the paintings.

Art, shopping and Dallas!  That’s like three of my favorite things in the world!  Why do you think I enjoyed the Jean Paul Gautier exhibit so much?  Anyway, mark your calender for May 20th, because George Groz’s Impressions of Dallas is coming to the DMA.  The name of the exhibit is “Flower of the Prairie” and you’ll be able to see it until August 19.  And  Macy’s, since you’ve gone to the trouble to sponsor this exhibition, all is forgiven.  I’ll come spend some money there soon.

18 thoughts on “Remembering Dallas Department Stores”

  1. My wife was talking about NM recently and meeting Stanley Marcus himself all decked out in a silk suit and complimenting her on her hand-me-down necklace. A 1950s kind of salesmanship that no longer exists, at least for 99+% of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Grew up in Dallas Remember a perfume fountain at Elm Street entrance. Wonder if there is something telling about it. It sticks out in my memory so neat


  3. It’s been 15 years since I’ve been to Dallas, I remember a store that had women’s pocketbooks, jewelry scarfs hair accessories..all kinds of goodies, I even ordered from them here in Ohio. Now I cannot remember the name of that store. There were two stores at that time. Help! Perhaps you could help me out. Thank you so much. Martha


  4. I remember my Mom taking us to Titches at Christmas time to see Santa. I would love to see some of those old pictures. Those were the good old days!
    I only remember the downtown location! We would ride the bus into town on Thursday nights!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My very first job was at Titche’s Department store as a waitress in their restaurant. My mother was a supervisor in the restaurant, so I was hired at 15 years old during the Christmas season and worked there for quite a while. I eventually transferred to working retail in the department store and what they called, I believe was “the flying squad”, which could
    mean I worked in different departments on different days. I loved working in that store as a young girl, especially in fragrance or in cosmetics. I remember the dress code was such that we could only wear black, navy or gray. We moved away from Texas when I was 17, but I will never forget my days of working at Titche’s. I’ve never been back to Dallas since we moved, but it would be fun to go back someday. But now I know Titche’s is gone, so maybe not. I worked at the Northridge Mall. Fun to just reminisce about!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you enjoyed the trip down memory lane. Mom started at Lochwood and then moved to Town East when it opened. She ran the children’s department and was a real favorite of the buyers. They often asked her to come help open new stores when they came along, so she may have helped open Northridge.


    1. Four? I remember Sanger’s, Titche’s and Neiman’s, but not sure what would be considered the fourth. There were lots of small boutiques of various types from dress stores to smoke shops and pharmacies, but I don’t remember other major department stores. Sears had a big store on Ross at Greenville.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry Debby for the slow reply. I’ve been on a cruise. Mom started with Titches’s at the Lochwood store and was clerical support for the Department Manager who ran men’s, cosmetics and women’s accessories. She moved to Town East, also in a clerical role, but this time supporting the whole store. Then she was promoted to Manager for the Children’s department and stayed there for the rest of her career.


      1. I’m an Okie who, while in college, spent part of every summer from 1962 to 1965 with an older brother who started an architectural delineation company in Big “D”. In those days, I was certain no metro area anywhere in the world had more beautiful eligible college and young working women as greater Dallas. Braniff [“The Last of the Plain Planes”] Airline trained their “Stews” there, and American Airlines was also well represented. Party’s, a few BYOB club’s that never required my BYOB and infrequently “d’ed”me, some great jazz music in the old Blue Light Club, and nightlife galore. But I’m off on an entirely different path.

        Anyway, reading your article, written with a Southwestern flair only a genuine Texas woman could master, I was reminded of the wonderful days I spent in your fine city. I was modestly broke in those days, subsisting solely on big brother’s food and drink larder. But if I really really needed a few duds, and my brother was solvent, I’d head to Sanger’s, or to a place a young lady I once knew used to call, Titchee Goathanger’s. Occasionally, I’d slowly creep into Neiman’s and more quickly flee out the door since I couldn’t afford squat there. Nonetheless, an empathetic Neiman salesman, apparently recognizing how much I wanted anything from their store, handed me a Neiman Marcus bag to put my Sanger bag in before I went home. Now that was a class act!

        A few times a year, business would bring me back to Dallas, and I always recalled with fondness how much I loved, and in a way, grew up there. As my years continue to advance, I rarely give thought to what were then just routine errands spent during my youth in a city I loved. Your article tripped several memory circuits, and those memories are wonderful to recall. You’re a true Southwestern artist. Thanks a bunch for the ride.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. And this is exactly why I do what I do! I love writing and would do it even if no one read it, but when something I wrote touches people this way, there is very little in life that brings me as much joy.


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