All Hail The Department Store

There are very few places on earth quite like an old school department store. They are retro wonders, throwbacks to a time when shopping was an all-day experience: an entire world captured under one roof.

Susan Hill of The Guardian writes about the golden age of department stores, noting that visiting one now carries "a sense of an age gone by and offer a third way between the misery of trudging the cold, wet high street and purgatorial shopping malls." And I, like Hill, share a similar nostalgia for the grand stores of old, for as much as I loathe shopping, there is something sort of magical about an old school department store experience.

Perhaps it is a part of my childhood: my mother worked nights at a department store when I was a kid and my parents didn't have a great deal of money. It was her way of making an income and still being able to be there for us before and after school. My father would take us to see her, (we'd meet her on her dinner break) and as a child I remember being amazed by the cases of jewelry and the smell of 8 million perfumes at once (which now makes me sick, btw), and the way one department suddenly turned into another, something my favorite author, Steven Millhauser, captures in his short story, "The Dream of the Consortium."

With Macy's laying off7,000 workers and Wal-Mart and Target now the source for everything under the sun, the days of the department store, already in its twilight, may soon be at an end. Will you miss them if they're gone? Or will you celebrate the end of an old model and embrace the stores that have come to take their place?

In Praise Of The Department Store[Guardian]
Macy's Cuts Dividend And 7,000 Jobs [NYTimes]