Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Christmas Shoppers Enjoy a Busy Day at the Stores -- December 21, 2021

San Francisco Call, 24-December-1899

Christmas shopping in San Francisco in 1899 had some features in common with 2021. I always associate The Emporium, a famous department store, with Christmas. Every year we went to ride the Roof Rides and see Santa.


Christmas shoppers put In a busy day yesterday and spent the last few hours In Santa Claus' cause in a way that will bring happiness to many. No better showing of the prosperity of the year about to close could have been made than by the city shops yesterday with their aisles all crowded with purchasers. Buyers were of all classes and conditions, all come together with the charitable Christmas spirit -- the desire to bring Joy to everybody -- and to spend money. Even the Mongolian residents caught the whiff of love and charity in the atmosphere and mingled with the vast throng of tired mothers, gleeful children, jolly fathers, happy grandparents and the big-hearted bachelors and pretty maids, all brought together with the same purpose -- the desire to buy something for some loved one.

At the Emporium the aisles were crowded with a seemingly solid mass of humanity, which led purchasers to declare that all San Francisco was assembled there until they visited Will & Finck's or Hale's or O'Connor & Moffatts, when that opinion was changed and in the estimation of buyers it was decided that the entire population of San Francisco was out purchasing Christmas presents.

A wonderful thing about this vast shopping army was the splendid way in which the stores managed the crowds. In all the retail stores an unusually large extra staff was employed and in spite of the fact that business surpassed even the hopes of the most sanguine, no shopper was neglected and it was possible to do justice and show courtesy to all.

The day -- the last big day of shopping in San Francisco -- was not without its pathetic interests, its humorous sidelights and commercial object lesions. In the first place all the shops that have established for themselves a reputation for quality in regard to stock, fairness in regard to dealing and economy when regarded from the purchaser's standpoint were crowded with eager purchasers, who, mindful of the multitude of shoppers and the lack of time, never stopped to examine the materials offered for sale but took the firm's name for guarantee.

"You guarantee this material?"

"We do," would answer the obliging clerk. "Then send it." and the purchaser would pass on to make room for another and that is one of the secrets of how Newman & Levinson, Kohlberg, Strauss & Frohman, the Glove House. Livingston Brothers, N. Strauss, J. J. O'Brien, the Golden Gate Cloak House, and James O'Brien managed to handle so satisfactorily the large crowds of people ail anxious to spend money.

The beneficial effects of window display were also demonstrated by the enormous business done by Colonel Andrews' diamond palace. H. Liebes & Co. and the Owl Drug Company. The benefits of judicious advertising were also demonstrated by the harvest reaped by such well-known firms as C. Curtin, Ad. Kocour, the furrier, S. N. Wood, Raphael's, Brown Bros., Pauson & Co. and the Hub.

It was in the clothing stores that the majority of pathetic incidents were enacted. Ragged boys went in accompanied by sorrowful-looking mothers to come out transformed into stylish little men accompanied by a mother who looked no longer weary and heartsore on account of the great love and admiration that lighted up her faded old eyes.

To the piano houses were nearly all the merry scenes relegated. Many a man stood by in Sherman & Clay's, Clark Wise & Co.'s or Byron Mauzy's while wifey paid over several hundred dollars for a "splendid instrument." "My husband is so fond of music," each purchaser would exclaim, "that I could think of nothing that would please him better than to have a new piano in the house. So here we are." The piano salesman, however, is really the only one who saw the comic side of the purchase. To "hubby" It was no joke.

Many as are the words of praise due to the storekeepers just so many are there due to the purchasers. Each one realized what a busy day it was and tried to help along and reciprocate the courtesies of the shopkeepers. Many a dude went home with packages piled high to his monocle and many a lady who never carried anything heavier than a purse or a fan or a perfumed handkerchief left the stores with her arms laden with Christmas offerings.

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