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.