May. 7, 2017

What happened to my department stores?

First it was Montgomery Ward: Big building on Spencer Highway in Pasadena; one stop shopping for clothes, shoes, or appliances. You could even have lunch in their little cafeteria while you were there. Not to mention the fact that I modeled for them! How dare they go out of business? Their demise left a really large, empty building with a HUGE parking lot. So long, Montgomery Ward; hello, flea market!

Then, Joske’s disappeared. They tried to rebirth under the name of Dillard’s, but that didn’t go too well.  I can remember Joske’s at Gulfgate Mall. (I realize I’ve lost every reader under the age of 40.) I played hopscotch on Joske’s finely-designed, Italian tile floor. My mother could shop for hours. I just jumped along with her from tile to tile while she shopped from department to department. One day, Joske’s was no more.

Next came Foley’s! Who would have ever guessed that Foley’s, the “in” store during the 1970’s, would close their doors? While Foley’s was not one-stop shopping, it was cream of the crop clothing, furniture, mattresses, electronics and home goods. I am quite certain that every bride of the 1970’s registered at Foley’s. To be honest, my family of parents and four children really couldn’t shop there unless they were having sales. Downtown Foley’s was multi-stories! Who just closes a multi-story major department store? We once ate lunch at Foley’s Downtown and listened to designers speak while watching fashion shows. Poor Foley’s. Poor rich people in the city of Pasadena. What were they to do?

Sakowitz, the older version of Neiman Marcus, gone.

Ah, Macy’s stepped in to save the day. We said, “Goodbye,” to stores such as Dillard’s, Joske’s, Sakowitz, and Foley’s, but we said, “Hello!” to Macy’s. Macy’s was the ultimate in New York style. I mean, who hasn’t heard of Macy’s? Just about every major television show and Christmas movie had something to do with Macy’s when I was growing up. Macy’s = Stability + Success.  Thank you, Mr. Macy! Hold the phone…not so much.

Macy’s is rebranding. They will be closing some stores and plan to reinvent themselves. What’s a shopper to do?

Indoor malls are becoming a thing of the past. I personally feel the old Pasadena Town Square Mall, who is now Plaza Paseo, needs to morph into a full-fledged Mexican market. Hey! Why not? If people are willing to cross the border for bird baths, windchimes, clothes, home designs and furniture – why wouldn’t they shop a close-to-home Mexican market? We need our Mexican vanilla more easily accessible! Not to mention the Mexican beer and tequila. That alone would keep Plaza Paseo’s doors wide opened. Not sure that’s a good thing, but it’s probably true.

Obviously, no one listens to me because I still can’t figure out why Montgomery Ward didn’t make it considering the outstanding young teen model they featured.

This indoor mall thing is another interesting fact of fashion history. First, Gulfgate Mall was outdoors. Then, Gulfgate Mall was indoors. Then, Gulfgate Mall disappeared and sprouted back up as peppered retail stores and one very large H.E.B. But, they did keep the sign. That brings me such comfort – they kept the sign.

I am pleased to announce both K-Mart AND Montgomery Ward still allow shopping online. Whew! My world just settled.

Change is inevitable. While I am teasing about the department store meltdown, so many other stable traditions of my childhood and early adulthood are fading away. Well-defined integrity and solid work ethic; respect for tradition and acceptance of authority; the importance of faith in children’s lives; not drinking in excess; connecting with our neighbors – the list goes on and on.

Sadly, the hardest change has been family sickness and death. Every time someone from our family passes, a little part of our heart goes with them. It could get very depressing, but for….


“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.” Romans 12:11-12