"It was such a safe, predictable world"

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Post-war balance of power? Pre 9/11? Kinda. Letitia Baldrige laments the passing of the upscale department store.

But is the fawning, personalized attention Baldrige recalls from her youth really gone or just tucked away in trendy little shops somewhere? I have no idea as I don't even know where the trendy shops are located.

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  1. More nostalgia about businesses that consumers have chosen to shun over the past decades.

    Let me be the first to say that in 50 years someone will fawn over the loss of the “BigBox” stores: WalMarts, Home Depots, Targets. . . Whine as they must about the rise of these stores, or the “decline” of “traditional” retail outlets, these people seem to ignore the past.

    History is littered with failed retail businesses: Woolworth, Sears (flirting), KMart (close) that are perfectly capable of destroying themselves, without the need for any government protectionism, central planning, or “preserving the old way of life”.

  2. What a remarkably self-serving screed of materialism!

  3. Yeah Ironchef, I hate when people complain about things they used to enjoy that aren’t around anymore. How tedious. Why don’t they just stop living in the past and shut up already?

  4. The real ‘culprit’ is the loss of cheap labor, and the arrival of low-margin goods. Both trends are good for the poor. A similar thing happened in home construction – it used to be common for middle-class homes to have a certain amount of custom work in them – even tiny WWII era houses often have coffered ceilings, unique wall treatments, hand-carved balustrades, and the like. Now we all have drywall and mass produced baseboard finishes. Why? Because back in the day a carpenter made so little that middle class people could afford to have him spend a month building a staircase or trimming out a room. Now it’s far too expensive, so we have cookie-cutter houses built with low-labor materials. So houses look the same and lack individual touches, but on the other hand, carpenters actually make a decent wage now.

  5. Ok, I just have to make fun of some of the arrogant eyewash that she wrote:

    And, oh, the restrooms in all of these huge, great old stores! They were vestiges of paradise, usually with aging attendants, smartly dressed in uniforms.

    Thank you for shopping at Wal-Mart! Please come again soon.

    Talking to them was a distinct pleasure – and they were always at the ready with a sewing kit to fix that button that was coming off, or a towel (a real one of course) to wipe off your rain-drenched clothes and shoes, or a comb for your wind-whipped coiffure.

    What a putridly oblivious bitch this woman is! Oh, woe to her is the day of the unexceptional, mediocre middle class pedestrians! Maybe she would like it if the government created regulations for department stores for the wealthy…better yet, put them all on a reservation. Far away from the petty bourgeoisie including myself.

  6. This reminded me of a couple of ancient rich relatives of my mother’s who I listened to as a teenager pining for the days when they could still “get good help”.

    One, actually the widow of a distant cousin (several times removed), died in the late ’60s, but not before disowning my mother for getting divorced.

    The other, an old bachelor who had actually worked as an architect and survived into the ’90s, solved the problem by turning over the spacious kitchen and servants room of the ancestral home over to a woman to run her catering business out of in exchange for cooking his meals and seeing that someone cleaned the place.

  7. Hi, my name is Bob, and I’ll be your server tonight…

    yuk

  8. It wasn’t that bad, Doug.

  9. Either Letitia Baldrige doesn’t know where to shop or they see her coming. Both seem likely.

  10. Oh, for the good old days when people made entire careers out of standing in bathrooms tending to customers’ post-pissing needs and wiping the mud off their shoes. Goddamn this modern trend of increased human dignity.

    At least that’s how I interpreted the article.

  11. Jennifer,

    That’s exactly what I was getting at, too. You said it better…

  12. That’s exactly what I was getting at, too. You said it better…

    Or rather, that’s exactly what was getting to me about her tone.

  13. Yeah, right.

    I work in a full-service gun store with knowledgible people, a gunsmith, an instructor, a wide selection of firearms and accessories, and the ability to order almost anything we don’t carry. And we back up what we sell.

    But customers complain because a box of 9mm cartridges here costs $9.89 instead of $9.39 like at Wal-Mart.

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