Classic Department Stores May Be Gone, But Local Shopkeepers Keep the Spirit

By  | Yahoo! Contributor Network – Mon, Nov 26, 2012

Shopping has a long history in Cleveland. On September 10, 1860, Higbee & Hower Dry Goods opened and was later reorganized as The Higbee Company. The Arcade, which was the first indoor shopping center, opened her doors in 1890. Cleveland also offered shoppers Halle’s and May Company. Many older residents tell of a time when they dressed up and rode the street car downtown to see the window displays, do their shopping, have lunch at the Silver Grille, and see Mr. Jingeling, keeper of the keys. What a glorious holiday tradition.

Times, however, have changed in Cleveland. Those big department stores no longer exist. The Higbee Building is now home to a casino. One good thing is that you can still have lunch at the Silver Grille. Hard times have hit Cleveland, and finding Christmas window displays this year is more of a challenge than I had anticipated. Gone are the classic department stores from days past.

Local malls offer nothing more than corporate banners displaying the discounts available. Macy’s at Richmond Mall in Highland Heights has some spirit, with Christmas trees and gold ornaments hanging from the ceiling.

Granted, the sun was shining when I went out to find some holiday spirit, but I assumed there would be some Christmas cheer somewhere. Then, the idea came to me to visit a small community outside of Cleveland that offers a unique shopping experience every day. I drove south on State Route 91 to Hudson, Ohio. The trip proved to be no disappointment at all.

Hudson’s shopping is comprised of unique chain stores, such as Coldwater Creek and the Loft, and locally owned bookstores, clothing shops, bakeries, and more. Decorative windows can be found, and the result is delightful.

Nicky Nicole, “a cool shop for girls” located at 99 First St., has a whimsical window display full of fun clothes and items that any girl would love. Bright colors and textures are everywhere, as is the call to fun.

Epiphany, a gift, card, and home furnishing shop located at 105 First St., has a more traditional display filled with a gingerbread house that looked good enough to eat, presents, and a reminder that Christmas usually means snow in these parts.

The Learned Owl Book Shop, located at 204 N. Main St., has showered their windows with stacks of hardcover books circled with Christmas lights as if the books were a tree. Since the paper in the books actually came from trees, the whole idea makes perfect sense and looks warm and inviting.

My Little Red Wagon, a unique toy store located at 220 N. Main St., offers passersby the chance to look back into time when a toy store held all the best possibilities. There were too many toys to choose from and way too much fun to be had. Candy canes and presents fill the windows along with fun toys.

The absolute showstopper belongs to the floral shop, The Greenhouse, located at 12 Clinton St. The display took me back to my youth. The windows are full of huge ornaments, garland, multiple-sized Santas, and snowmen. Every inch of the window is full, but crowded it is not. The controlled chaos is an absolute delight.

Other displays are present also, along with unique shopping and great places to eat. Hudson is an all-around winner for the holidays.

Cleveland’s big window displays of the past may be gone, and shopping in department stores with elevator attendants may have been replaced by large, informal shopping centers, but try the smaller communities with locally owned businesses for holiday spirit and a friendly hello. Times are different, and new memories have to be made — this year is as good a year as any to make them.