Memories of ‘Back in the Day’ Shopping

In their heyday, department stores were the shopping destinations of choice for many. Remember when Hecht's had a restaurant and candy counter and Hutzler's had a bakery?  If you're from Baltimore, you may also remember shopping on Lexington Street at Brager Gutman's and "five-and-dime" stores. Share your memories of shopping from back in the day. Which stores do you miss?

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KIm December 19, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Montgomery Ward, in Glen Burnie, had a candy counter and they made fresh caramel popcorn... It was a Great Day when my dad would treat us to some heavenly popcorn. The scent comes to fore so quickly in my memory...

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Stephanie December 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm

My grandfather was the main cook at Hecht Company. I remember how beautiful the store looked at Christmas time. The 3rd floor had the toys and candy store. As a little girl, that was my favorite floor. My mother use to buy me fruit slices everytime we went there. I remember McCorrys and Huzler's. I enjoyed going to all those stores downtown, especially during the holidays.

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Victoria Adams December 19, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I remember when Epstien(word made be mispell) one was located downtown and on Eastern Ave. can't remember what year. My family and I would go there to get fabic. Really miss those days. Need to bring it back.

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Victoria Adams December 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Epstein- this is the correct spelling of the store

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Karen Hammond December 19, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Another trip down memory lane for those of you familiar with what is now Eastpoint Mall (and before the Mall was even a Mall) ... the live penquins in the window outside of Hoschild Kohn and monkeys outside of Hutzlers. And yes - Pixie Pizza was the best pizza around town!

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Linda Goodman December 19, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I loved the Thanksgiving Day Parade sponsored by Hoschild Kohn's. When I was little, we would go to the parade in downtown Baltimore every year. It was so exciting because my uncle was always in the parade, and I would look for him, drumming in a Boumi Temple jazz band. There were floats, marching bands including Mummers and the big baloon like floats that we still see in the NYC Macy's parade.

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Romunda Williams-Davis December 19, 2013 at 9:59 am

If you are from East Baltmore you can remember Browns Supermarket and Super Pride and everyone had store credit. They was the good old days.

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Annette December 19, 2013 at 9:48 am

I remember Hecht's company used to to be downtown on Howard Street and who could not forget the famous "Levitz & Klien furniture store that was on monument street ..but last but not least who can forget " the Old Johns hopkins Credit Union that was on monument Street ( small building just cross monument & washington street on the right side of the street). The Bell Atlantic (C&P) phone company downtown on light & pratt st and the other location on St. Paul street. WHO can not forget the Super Sunday Bus Pass and hanging at the inner harbor.

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Debbi December 19, 2013 at 9:45 am

My grandfather ran the tea room at the Hutzler's in Towson. I LOVED going there. I felt like a princess. Yes, we always dressed up to go shopping back then, especially when visiting grandfather at the tea room!. Mother would put me in a dress, often matching mother-daughter outfits. Of course shiney patent leather shoes, a hat and gloves. I had a fake-fur muff (who remembers muffs?) for this time of year. Remember floor walkers? They would bring sales associates to you, you didn't have to look for some one to help you. And your packages were wrapped. Beautiful decorations, good service, and we got all the shopping done without store open on Thanksgiving or 6 am so employees could be with their families too. Kinder times.
When the tea room closed grandfather managed all the Read's lunch counters some of you have mentioned.

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Melinda Thomas December 19, 2013 at 9:44 am

If I may offer from a Caribbean perspective...The days leading up to Christmas, the stores displayed lots of fun toys for kids and parents took the opportunity to window shop at nights and enjoy the festivities. The biggest shopping day was Christmas Eve. There were lots of vendors lining the sidewalks displaying lots of toys and goodies for last minute shoppers the day would not be complete without Christmas music echoing everywhere. I came to the US right before Montgomery Ward and Hecht's went out. I got to shop at Montgomery Ward located in Towson and I enjoyed shopping at the Towson Hechts and I actually miss it.

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Romunda Williams-Davis December 19, 2013 at 9:35 am

OMG yes, Two Guys and Epsteins was the place my mother took me. I got my first slips, bras you name it....lol Also we took our family pics there.

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Bonnie C December 19, 2013 at 9:30 am

Remember the store window displays? BG&E had some of the best, right on Lexington St. I made a point of taking my kids every year, since we didn't have a car back then and other attractions were too far. There was a series of "bridges" that we would take from the Inner Harbor all the way to the BG&E "plaza" so it was a very pleasant trip (we didn't have to be so careful of traffic). That was over 30 years ago and I still get a happy memory glow from those windows shared with my children.

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Bonnie C December 19, 2013 at 9:27 am

What I miss about the stores mentioned in this post is that they were elegant with grand staircases, high ceilings, and wide aisles. I felt so very grown-up when we would dress in something fairly nice to go shopping (I wasn't allowed to wear shorts or jeans and it was a VERY different shopping experience - everyone seemed to be more polite and better behaved back then too).

The Epstein's store on Light Street in what is now Federal Hill was wonderful and seemed to go on and on forever. A true "department" store, you could find almost anything there except food (but they had a candy counter). After shopping (sometimes before) we would cross the street to the Read's Pharmacy and get a milkshake or hot chocolate at the counter (and sometimes a BLT - what a treat!). Just down the street was a Murphy's 5¢ &10¢ store for less expensive purchases (as a teenager, I worked the candy counter at Murphy's).

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Dawn December 19, 2013 at 9:17 am

I remember as a kid being so fascinated by the live "manekins" in the windows at Brager Gutman. And many Saturdays were spent on "the avenue" at Irvin's and Epstein's. For lunch it was either G&A, which is still there, or the automat that was in the basement of one of the dept stores, I can't remember which one.

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Nita Taylor December 19, 2013 at 9:15 am

Yes, I remember those days and often think about them. Shopping on Lexington Street was so convenient, since my family did not have a car at the time. There were definitely options to shop on Eutaw and Paca Streets as well. I was much smaller in size back in the day, so the Three and Five Shop on Lexington Street was my favorite place to shop besides Braeger Gutman's and Stewart's Department Store.

Two Guys on Merritt Boulevard was a one stop shopping place where you were able to shop for groceries, buy clothes, and have fun bowling. Those were the good ole days!!!

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Sandy Van Fossen December 19, 2013 at 9:14 am

The week before Christmas we would dress up and mom and Aunt Mary would take all the girls on #3 bus from Arbutus to downtown to shop and see the decorations. The best year was when it was snowing but we still went. Shopping at Brager Gutmans, Hutzlers, Hechts and lunch at Reads. Nothing better then memories of your childhood at Christmas.

Happy Holiday's to all!

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Barbara December 19, 2013 at 8:23 am

I loved all the stores you mentioned and I shopped all after completing homework at the Enoch Pratt the main branch. My classmate and I would have a snack at the 5 and dime and proceed to all the stores with the letter H, I now think back we were never asked where our parents were. We always had a nice time. All the shops were well lighted and everyone was always helpful. That was back in the day!

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Laura December 19, 2013 at 8:22 am

Yes, I do recall Hutzler's and specifically their Towson restaurant, which offered a grand view of the area from their panoramic window. What about the Sugar Plum Tree within their store? It opened before Christmas, for children to shop for their parents, siblings and grandparents, while their family waited just outside the small area within the retail space.

Also, Hochschild's at York & Belvedere and Stewart's, Silber's & the Orioles Cafeteria, on York Rd. near Channel 2...Great memories w/grandparents.

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Gary December 19, 2013 at 8:19 am

We also hads a Reads Pharmacy and soda fountain in Bel Air. I would always get a chocolate milkshake. Does anybody remember Corvettes? Maybe it was with a "K".

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Janet December 19, 2013 at 9:06 am

Yep! Korvette's on Route 40. I can't remember what replaced it. What about the first membership stores (pre Sam's, Costco and B.J.'s)? There was GEM and PACE. I also loved Bradlee's, which was similar to a Kohl's or Target.

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Bonnie C December 19, 2013 at 9:18 am

There was a Korvette's on Hanover Street in Brooklyn Park as well. It was replaced by a Clark's and later an Ollie's (most recently it was a Rose's - the last time I passed it, there was a "going out of business" sign on the front). BTW - Korvette's was started by veterans of the Korean war (conflict), and that's where the name comes from.

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Bonnie C December 19, 2013 at 9:20 am

Somewhere between Korvette's and Ollie's that site housed a Two Guys as well. Seems to be a good location (for a while) for almost anything.

Barbara December 19, 2013 at 8:14 am

I was only in junior high, but I remember taking the bus on Route 40 with my friends and riding downtown for Saturday shopping. We shopped in Hutzlers, Hechts, and Stewarts, then ate lunch at Reads Drugstore. I also remember shopping downtown with my grandmother when I was much younger for Easter clothes & shoes.

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Gary December 19, 2013 at 8:13 am

As a very young boy I would travel from Bel Air with my grandparents to Towson to visit the Electrolux man to get vacuum bags. Then off to Hutzlers. While my grandmother shopped, my grandfather and I would eat in the restaurant in the store. I thought it was the fanciest place and was a big treat for me.

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Wanda December 19, 2013 at 7:54 am

Hey....got one...What about "Sammy's" the discount childrens shoe store that was on E. Fayette
Street!

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Romunda Williams-Davis December 19, 2013 at 9:47 am

Omg...yes I loved me some Sammy's

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Annette December 19, 2013 at 9:53 am

Yes who couldn't remember Sammy's I even got my oldest daugther a pair of shoes from there in the early 90's but now it a boost mobile store. Mr Sammy was around for a long time every since I can remember from the early 70's.

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Reginald binns December 19, 2013 at 7:46 am

I remember Hutzler Brothers amazing window displays and sharply uniformed elevator operators. You can still see a remnant of the high class facade on Howard street near Lexington. Check out the Baltimore Department Store Museum site: http://departmentstoremuseum.blogspot.com/2010/05/stewart-co-baltimore-maryland.html

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Debbi December 19, 2013 at 9:52 am

Great site. Thanks for sharing!

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LESLIE KENNEDY December 19, 2013 at 7:10 am

DO ANY REMEMBER ANY PF THESE STORES , ROBERT HALL, MONTGOMERY WARDS

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Janet December 19, 2013 at 7:31 am

Yes, we used to joke about guys who shopped at Robert Hall. There was one on Route 40 at Rolling Road in Catonsville. Montgomery Wards was at Security Square Mall. It replaced Hutzlers when it left. I shopped there a lot and got my car repairs there. What about Woolworth and Murphy's at Westview? There also was a Stewart's department store there. Murphy's had the best submarine sandwiches.

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LESLIE KENNEDY December 19, 2013 at 7:09 am

OH WOW Do anybody remenber two guys?

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Rhonda December 19, 2013 at 8:12 am

I loved Two Guys, I remember my grandma walking us to that store on Saturday morning.

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Ursula December 19, 2013 at 9:10 am

Yes! We took our family portrait there 37 years ago. We still have it, and laugh about it every time we get together.
What about Epsteins?

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Janet December 19, 2013 at 9:27 am

I loved Epstein's, especially for curtains and household goods. Did any ladies shop at Lynda Lynn for suits? Now, I remember. I was Caldor's that replaced Korvette in Catonsville. Waited for the weekly advertisement and went there every Sunday. Then, when Valu City came along, that was my Sunday shopping destination. Tons of bargains at Valu City!

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