Growing up during the mid-20th century, I remember when the place to shop for clothing was at the downtown department store with it’s intricately hand painted Manikins in the front window.
Besides the well-known chain stores like Montgomery Ward and Penney’s, Vancouver, Washington was served by a locally owned old standby CC’s Department Store. CC’s was the kind of store that closed on Sundays and was known for their “better” merchandize.
CC’s was nearly a museum even by 1940’s and ’50’s standards. Shabbily genteel and somewhat dowdy it had creaking bare wooden floors, wide wooden staircase and high ceilings, but what really made CC’s stand a part from other downtown Vancouver stores was how purchase transactions were accomplished.
When customers made a purchase in CC’s the clerk handling the transaction put the money into a metal container the size of a soup can and sent it along with a sale voucher, sailing by electronic wire to a second floor central cashier. The cashier made change and returned the transaction in the same manner to the clerk so that she could close out the sale with your receipt.
CC’s is the only store I remember shopping in that handled their “cash only” transactions in this manner. Grandma was a regular shopper at CC’s and she chose the store especially for their selection of matching Cinderella brand dresses for my sister and me. I remember shopping for back to school and Easter clothes there too.
In those day women “dressed” for downtown shopping expeditions and customers like my grandmother knew the store’s clerks by name. This was a time when there was personalized service was the norm. Knowing what grandma liked to buy for us, clerks sometimes held back Cinderella dresses in our sizes for her to come in and choose from.
Besides purchasing dresses for my younger sister and me, grandma sometimes would buy an outfit and hat for herself. CC’s carried a fine line of women’s hats. In these days, hats and gloves were one of the ideals of femininity and a must for Sunday church attendance.
Standing on a corner of Main Street, CC’s was a large part of downtown Vancouver. It was also part of a more courteous era, an era when everyday shopping was much more formal. People dressed up, rode the bus and took their time browsing though the store merchandize. If you went into a store, the owners chatted with you and wanted you to spend some time. It was all part of the local flavor of a bygone era.