Christmas Shopping for Deals at Luckey, Platt, and Company
Well folks, it’s that time of the year – Christmas Eve is here! Perhaps you are on top of your game and you have completed your holiday shopping. Or perhaps not. You might not even have time to read this blog post as you are frantically trying to hunt down those last minute gift ideas at rock bottom prices (it’s okay, we don’t judge). We thought we would take a look at Poughkeepsie’s once-famous superstore Luckey, Platt, and Company to see what deals they had to offer. To do this, we are digging into the Poughkeepsie Journal Archives and picking through the thousands of advertisements to find the hot items at the best prices (for the time period).
For those who didn’t know what to buy, we found a very helpful advertisement from December of 1877 where the store showcases an entire alphabet of possibilities. For example, A is for “Aprons and Afghan yarns” and U is for “Umbrellas and Undergarments” (you get the idea). In their ad for the Christmas of 1880, they decided to separate the gifts into categories: for gentlemen, for ladies, for children, or for home use (which is also basically for ladies in 1880). On December 20, 1890, the advertisement was partly a warning, as there was only “four days remaining before Christmas,” but also it was meant to reassure its customers that in the course of these four days, “we have crowded into them an amount of labor, thought, and energy, unequalled [sic] by any other four days in the year.” They even had 75 clerks on hand to assist with all needs.
In 1920, the store’s basement was “the happiest place in the world” as it was remade into the “Land of Make Believe” (the name changed several times over the years, from Luckey’s Dutch Toy Town in 1926, Luckey’s Toy Castle in 1932, Luckey’s Toy Town in 1936, Luckey’s Old English Toy Shop in 1937… you get the idea) and filled with toys, electric railways, and Santa’s workshop, of course. It was also during the 1920s that Luckey, Platt, and Company began taking up entire pages for ad space in the newspaper. These ads showcased everything from drums for little boys (which varied in cost from 60 cents to $12.50), to Victrola record players for adults (also ranging in price from $25 to $250). These full-page ads would be a standard Christmastime operation for the firm to attract and inspire shoppers.
By 1965, their ads included taglines like “it wouldn’t be Christmas without a day at Luckey’s” or “Make it a heavenly Christmas for everyone with Luckey Platt and Co.” In the ’60s, you could also use your fancy new “charge plate” (or as we like to call it, a credit card) to make your shopping experience a speedy one. Things were still going strong for the firm in the late 1960s, but by 1975, Luckey, Platt, and Company went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The store closed down for good in 1981, after over 100 years of Christmas memories.
Check out this cool artifact from the FDR Presidential Library and Museum – Eleanor Roosevelt’s Luckey Platt Credit Card
Poughkeepsie Eagle News – 17 Dec 1877, 9 Dec 1880, 20 Dec 1890. 19 Nov 1920, 27 Nov 1920, 23 Dec 1932, 19 Nov 1936, 1 Dec 1937, 15 Dec 1965
01 – Advertisement from the Poughkeepsie Eagle News – 17 Dec 1877
02 – Advertisement from the Poughkeepsie Eagle News – 9 Dec 1880
03 – Advertisement from the Poughkeepsie Eagle News – 1 Dec 1937
04 – Advertisement from the Poughkeepsie Eagle News – 3 Dec 1938