Thank God Its Monday once again and, as such, #HappyMonday to everyone! I look forward to each and every Monday because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!
After writing about the rise in virtual shopping contributing to the downfall of malls and department stores last week, I had a lot of melancholy memories about Mom and her love of going to the malls and big department stores, for shopping and dining, combined.
My local news recently reported on the holiday nostalgia sparked by the JL Hudson’s holiday exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum, including an almost complete collection of their Christmas bears, which started in 1985.
I remember Mom and Dad buying each of the grandkids a Hudson’s Christmas bear every year, when they were young. You can read the fantastic report by April Morton at https://www.clickondetroit.com/live-in-the-d/2022/11/28/hudsons-holiday-exhibit-sparks-christmas-nostalgia/.
Mom often wrote about J.L. Hudson’s in her newsletters and books, too. After all, it was her favorite department store. She was so sad when they closed for good. Mom really loved their dining room (and bakery). In fact, she imitated about three dozen of Hudson’s menu offerings.
Personally, I always loved to get their French Dip whenever Mom took me there. Hudson’s dining room was probably most famous for their Maurice Salad, which was one of Mom’s favorite choices, too. Here’s a re-share of her imitation of it.
Additionally, a couple of years ago, my local news reported that the old J.L. Hudson’s site, in Detroit, was finally being re-developed. In its glory days, the Detroit Hudson’s store was the tallest department store in the world! They closed that store in 1983. The historical building was later imploded in 1998. There’s a lot of great information about the re-development project, as well as the history of J.L. Hudson’s at https://www.hudsonssitedetroit.com/.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 16)
HUDSON’S OF DETROIT – THE WAY IT ONCE WAS!
DURING THE FINANCIAL PANIC of 1873, Joseph L. Hudson was a young man, working with his father in a men’s clothing store in Michigan. Times were hard. Customers couldn’t pay their bills. After Joseph’s father died, partly from worrying, young Joseph struggled with the business for about three years and eventually went into bankruptcy, in spite of all he tried to do to bring the business up.
He paid his creditors 60 cents on the dollar and, with great determination, began over again! Through remarkable enterprise and ingenuity, in 12 years, he owned a store in Detroit. Even more remarkable, he located all the creditors whose claims had been erased by the bankruptcy proceedings and paid them in full – even though they did not ask it of him.
This so astounded the business world, in 1888, that Hudson’s reputation as an honest man, caring for his customers as much is his creditors, that word spread and the store became one of Detroit’s most important, not only in the state, but eventually in the entire country.
He established major shopping centers in metropolitan Detroit, beginning in 1953 with the magnificent Northland Center, the first of its kind in the country. At the time of this writing , Hudson’s, merged with Dayton and with Marshall Fields, no longer offers the personal hometown touch that it used to have…
Their original building on Woodward and Farmer Street, in downtown Detroit, once controlled the shopper’s mecca with Kern’s and Crowley’s, as well, in that area. We have seen the passing of a great institution, but I am so glad I did not lose the precious recipes [for which] the Hudson’s dining room and bakery were known…
Department store dining rooms were just another niche in the food industry, from which Mom found inspiration for imitating “famous foods from famous places”. DepartmentStoreHistory.net claims: “The three biggest department stores in the mid-1960s, both in sales volume and physical size, were Macy’s, Hudson’s, and Marshall Field, in that order.”
At NYPost.com, I found a great article about the best department store restaurants, by Alex Witchell (Feb. 25, 2019). I related to a lot of it, as she reminisced about by-gone days of shopping and lunching with her own mom and sisters. Another great read is at EatThis.com, called Stores With Amazing Restaurants, by Katherine Martinelli (July 20, 2018) – about 15 different retailers, offering the dining and shopping experience, together.
Department stores were often the “anchors” of malls across America. Victor Gruen was an Austrian architect, who designed the first fully enclosed mall in American; which was the Southdale Center, in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina, Minnesota, opening to the public in 1956.
Most of the smaller storefronts faced inward, while these large, “anchor”, department stores (such as JC Penny’s, JL Hudson’s, Macy’s, and Sears) were placed at each end to attract shoppers and create foot traffic to the smaller stores in between.
Inside the mall, Gruen created a European-style central court area with an aviary, sculptures, and an open-air-style café. The mall was like an island, surrounded by a sea of parking lots designed to accommodate the masses. It was also designed to provide local employment and economic growth to the surrounding communities.
By 1960, there were 4,500 malls nationwide, built to house dozens (even hundreds) of retail stores and restaurants in one collection. Malls were envisioned for middle-class consumers’ socializing, eating, and shopping conveniences. Even in ancient Greece, societies congregated in central marketplaces.
By the 1980s, American malls were thriving, out-shining “Main Street” Mom-and-Pop shops and taking over pop culture. But, like other rising sensations, this one wasn’t going to last either. Between the rise of online shopping and the setback of the recession in 2008, there was a significant drop in sales and foot traffic at big-brand retailers and malls, alike.
Around 2010, consumers began turning in larger numbers to Amazon and other online retailers. The steep, nationwide drop in sales for brick-and-mortar stores has accelerated, in recent years, then the Covid-19 pandemic put their decline into overdrive.
According to The Week’s staff article, The ‘Retail Apocalypse’, (Aug. 7, 2021), “Roughly 40 percent of the nation’s department stores have closed since 2016, including every Lord & Taylor store and nearly all Sears and Kmart stores. Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney have filed for bankruptcy; Macy’s has shuttered dozens of stores and will close 125 more by 2023.”
The concept of eating where you shop can be traced back to 18th century Europe. However, many argue about who started the idea of “eating where you shop” in America. The great debate runs between the retailers, Macy’s and Wanamaker’s.
Macy’s claims to have opened the first restaurant within a department store in May 1878 (originally Marshall Field’s Walnut Room), according to an article I read at Restaurant-ingThroughHistory.com.
Others, like WendyCityChicago.com, claim that in-store restaurants were already established (in America), earlier in the 1870s, when Wanamaker’s in New York and Philadelphia offered customers the first in-store eateries. The idea was to create a reason for customers to pause in the middle of their bargain-hunting excursions and rest, while getting some sustenance for more energy to continue shopping.
It was based on the theory that the longer consumers were in the store, the more likely they were to look at more things and, thus, buy more, as well. It was a groundbreaking marketing tactic to attract and keep shoppers longer – and it worked, until it didn’t! The times are certainly changing – so are the ways people interact with each other, these days.
In honor of Sunday, as it was National Cookie Day, and the first week of December, being National Cookie Cutter Week, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Paintbrush Cookies, Like Hudson’s; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 221). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
December observes, among other things… National Pear Month, National Write A Business Plan Month, National Operation Santa Paws (which runs the 1st-24th), National Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month, National Safe Toys and Gifts Month, Worldwide Food Service Safety Month, National Human Rights Month, and Universal Human Rights Month!
Today is also… National Sacher Torte Day!
Thursday, December 8th is… National Brownie Day!
…49 down and 3 to go!