Time to Shop!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year folks! It’s Black Friday and everyone is going to be starting their Christmas Shopping! Perhaps you are heading down to the Poughkeepsie Galleria, or you’re shopping small by hitting some local “Mom and Pop” establishments. Maybe you prefer to stay on the couch and surf the web for online deals. Either way, people have been searching for the best Christmas gifts for over a century. While the tradition of “Black Friday” shopping is fairly new, we’ve been doing it since at least the mid-20th century, and with less than a month to shop, this time of year has always been crunch-time for finding the right Christmas gift.

In 1871, the Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle proclaimed that giving your family members a subscription to the paper was the best Christmas gift (well, obviously!), but there were several other organizations that also claimed they had the best gifts for your loved ones. Lucky, Platt, & Company, which was Poughkeepsie’s very own department store for over a century, made sure to attract their customers with large ads in the newspaper with slogans like “Our assortment of goods is large! Our prices are Way Down! At the Cheap Store.” Moving forward in time we find that in 1900, the Ely Elting store on Main Street was advising its customers not to wait until the last minute and the sound advice, “Better begin now when you can do it more leisurely.”

In 1902, if you were shopping for a sportsman, you could head over to Van Benschoten Hardware Company on Main Street where they had everything for your athletic needs including dumb bells, golf sets, and hunting rifles. By 1915, the hot ticket item was a record player, and one could be found at a reasonable price at Chas. H. Hickok Music Company at 358 Main Street. In fact, Main Street was the hot spot for shopping up until the mid-20th century. Wallace’s Department Store was yet another major place where shoppers searched for bargains, everything from lady’s intimates like bloomers (because who doesn’t want a pair of bloomers for Christmas?) which were on sale for $2.98 in 1925, or Orphan Annie dolls which could be had for $1.40!

Besides the hot new kids’ toys that are in high demand this time of year, cool new electronic devices are always a hit, which seems to be the case throughout much of the last century too. Doesn’t the wife need a new vacuum cleaner (to a kid that sounds like a terrible present, but now that I’m mostly an adult, I would happily receive a new vacuum cleaner!)? By the 1930s and 40s, radios were the hot-ticket items for big gift giving. That way you could listen to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt talk about his reasoning for changing the date of Thanksgiving in 1939 (Read more about that HERE)! Television finally appeared as an excellent option for a family gift by the 1950s and has been near the top of the list of hot buys ever since. So have fun out there in your shopping endeavors and be safe!


Poughkeepsie Journal – 23 Dec 1871, 23 Dec 1874, 23 Dec 1900, 25 Nov 1902, 22 Dec 1915, 11 Dec 1925, 9 Dec 1927, 28 Nov 1951


49LD24ac3 – Main street at Academy and Catherine Streets, Nov 28, 1970 – LH Collections

859a-1PC6 – Main street color tinted postcard circa 1930s – LH Collections

PJ-Dec-23-1871 – Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle ad for Christmas gift subscription to the newspaper from 1871

PJ-Dec-13-1900 – Poughkeepsie Journal advertisement for Ely Elting store in 1900.

PJ-Nov-28-1951 – Poughkeepsie Journal advertisement for a new television in 1951.