Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Biggest  Store in the Biggest State  -- where are you when we need you?





Back before 1959, Texas was the largest state  in the contiguous United States.  Joske's of Texas was the largest store in the state -- it was wonderful and could be compared to Macy's in  New York or Harrod's of London.   You could buy anything there.  It had two restaurants -- the Camellia Room which was the venue for many high-end, society events and the Chuckwagon which is where we ate lunch many a Saturday while shopping.  It was five stories and you could literally buy whatever you needed there.  Christmas there was indeed magical -- there was a huge Christmas display that would be up for weeks that people would make special plans to visit.

This was in the early 50's when it was just as usual for people to NOT have a car than to have a car, when kids walked to school, played outside and drank out of the hose, when we had phones attached to a wall and many times attached to your neighbor though a "party line" -- you shared!

So, would somebody please explain to me why, in our advanced society with all our technology, is it getting harder and harder to acquire what we need?  I have been looking for a few common items that seem to have evaporated from our lives.  One item in question is a slip for a little girl.  I remember a time when they could be purchased anyplace from the five and dime stores to the big department stores and, of course, through Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs.  Can I find  a little girl slip now? Yes, I can.  Online from  a website that sells products made by Old Order Mennonite women.

 Are you kidding me?

Another thing in question is toys.  In the recent past there was a influx of lead laden toys imported to the US.  These toys posed a health hazard to our children so I went looking for American made toys.  Yeah -- not so much.  I will admit that my children were little during the age of toy excess -- the 80's and that the choices were seemingly endless.  However, now, it is different.  I was searching, online of course, for a doll stroller.  I found many, mostly imports, that looked frighteningly like the real thing.  I can see little children thinking these items are real and not toys, attempting to get into them and getting hurt.  They are all metal and pretty flimsy at that -- dangerous at best.

I have been looking for things for myself as well.  Shoes to fit my wide feet.  You can't just go to a department store and buy wide shoes, you have to order them.  As a result, I have to buy my shoes from places like Zappos and Online Shoes.  No wonder I don't like to go shopping.  After looking to replace some garments that I particularly like with the same thing, I discovered that while they can be purchased online, they can't be purchased in the store.

It seems like our choices are getting fewer and costing us more in the way of shipping fees.  A clever plan by retailers to get more of our money for less?  I think probably so.  The list goes on and on.  When I was growing up, my mother grocery shopped every two weeks at one store.  She didn't run all over town because she couldn't get what she wanted at the store she patronized.  Can I do that?  Heck, no! I have to divide my time between four stores just to buy groceries for the two of us.  No one store stocks everything I need.  What a pain.

I have no solution, just needed to vent a bit here.  I think I heard someplace the other day that the US is thinking it would be a good idea to bring some of the manufacturing business back here.  Very clever -- think we could start with little girl's slips?