TRAVEL HERE/TRAVEL THERE: SHOPPING IN DALLAS IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS
I hate to say it, but today’s mall rats don’t know from shopping. Drop me in any mall from sea to shining sea and what do you have? The same hundred-odd stores and fast food outlets they have in every other mall in America. (YAWN!)
My Memories of Shopping in Dallas
I live in Dallas where shopping centers were invented. (Well, not really, but kinda.) Forget Mall of the Americas, I shop at NorthPark! In days of yore, NorthPark only had three anchor stores: Neiman’s, Titches and J.C.Penney’s. and the other stores? Margo’s La Mode, Chandler’s Shoes, Continental Coiffures, The Carriage Shop…those were the days. We didn’t have a food court. We had El Fenix. Things have changed since then, but I’m still loving me some Northpark.
Back in the good old days, department stores had departments. I don’t mean you went to the men’s floor and then wandered from designer department to designer department to find a pair of navy slacks for your dad’s birthday. I mean you went to the men’s pants department and wandered through islands, seas and oceans of men’s pants. In fact, the pants department would be divided up into types of pants, so by looking on only two or three fixtures, you’d be able to tell whether they had any dressy navy blue pants in your dad’s size or not.
Shopping in Paris
I foresaw the disappearance of departments, as I knew them, before it actually happened. In the eighties I visited Paris. My trip was in December and the city was aglow with twinkling lights and snow. Galeries Lafayette, all decked out for the Christmas season, was astounding. I wandered around the store to my hearts content. As I made my way around the upper floors for my second or third time, I began to realize what was bugging me. I couldn’t find the blouse department.
See, as a twenty something career girl I didn’t have a lot of money, but I envisioned shrugging off my blazer at work one day and hearing someone say, “What a gorgeous blouse!” At that point I could have answered, “Oh, I picked it up in Paris.”
But Galleries Lafayette didn’t have a blouse department. They had blouses from many, many designers, but they were all spread out. I couldn’t just go to the blouse department, check out the markdowns in my size and see if I could afford any. To find out if there was a blouse in the store I could afford, I would have had to wander around all the different designer’s boutiques and handle the merchandise. The perfectly coiffed French-speaking clerks were entirely too intimidating. I went downstairs and bought a Christmas ornament instead.
Designer Departments Take Over
Back in Dallas I was only able to enjoy the blouse department for a little while longer – the designer departments were on their way. Now, if I want to go to the men’s department and see all the navy dress pants in one fail swoop, then I’m headed to either Walmart or Target. (BTW, I love Target, but that’s beside the point.)
I miss the old style department store. To begin with they had a sort of local flavor and were targeted more specifically to local needs. I also think that you were more likely to come up with an individualized look in a store where things were not pre-coordinated for you. I mean you don’t have to go all matchy-matchy to look pulled together.
Nowadays, things are entirely too homogenized. Sure Nordstrom’s has great service and a great selection of merchandise. I love Bistro N. But I still miss Titche-Goettinger. And I miss the blouse department, too. How about you?