ATHENS THRU THE YEARS
Globe Department Store - THE Place to Shop in 1934!
By Anne Adams
When you go shopping for clothing today you probably do so online, or you might go to a “Big Box” store but in the 1930s if you didn’t make your own clothes, then you could find what you needed in downtown Athens on the courthouse square. Over the years there had been several dry goods- general clothing stores there and one of these was the Globe Department Store located on the south square of the square. And when they opened in April 1934 it got important coverage in the Athens Weekly Review of April 25, 1934.
One feature of the publicity was a group photo that pictured the store’s employees. One of these was shoe department manager Humbert Fowler, touted as an experienced shoe fitter with ten years experience. Others were Mrs. Jacob Ginsberg who served as assistant manager and merchandise buyer and Miss Margaret Monroe who was described as “a very popular young lady of Henderson county, [who] has proven to be a very successful young lady in our ladies’ Ready-to-Wear and Millinery Department.” Mr. Ginsberg, after 20 years as a businessman, served as manager/buyer. Another skilled worker was Mrs. Luellen Wells who headed the Alteration Department, and another was Miss Ann Ginsberg who was the buyer of “ladies’ Ready-to-Wear and Millinery.” Mr. C.C. Spence, who was formerly connected with various Dallas area stores, was the Advertising Manager.
In an adjacent article, store manager Jacob Ginsberg then described his background. Since childhood he had dreamed of being a businessman like his father in their small village in Poland in the 1890s and finding his future in America was “the dream of his soul.” Then as World War began Mr. Ginsberg decided that “if we would ever get out of this alive we would go to America. It took years until it was possible to arrange it and finally on October, 1920 I landed in New York.”
Over the next few years as Mr. Ginsberg made his way through the American business world, he came to realize that what America lacked was “a human heart” and with the election of Franklin Roosevelt as president he was optimistic. He summarized his account, “My dreams are realized. I own a nice outstanding modern business and I am in the U.S. the land of my dreams. It took so many years to see my dreams realized. I am going down the hill now as I am past forty. But I guess they are right when they say, ‘Life begins at forty.’”
Then the reporter provided details on the newly opened store, “The present Globe Department store was opened on April 26th with a large crowd being present for the opening. On that date Jacob Ginsberg presented to Athens and Henderson County one of the neatest, best appointed, well arranged and modernized merchandising plants in Texas.”
The building itself was carefully designed from the exterior to the interior. “The interior has been planned to provide customers with warmth of feeling pleasure and comfort,” wrote the reporter. The north facing building façade is “finished in black and white tile, adding much to the esthetic beauty of the store.” One section of the store on the east side, titled the House of Fashion, seeks to “invite the women customers in, to make them feel welcome and to make their shopping pleasant and effortless” and it was location for women’s ready-to-wear clothing as well as millinery. “The shelving mirrors, compartments and fitting rooms is a super-imposed structure designed to lend the atmosphere of an English cottage, with its cheery, red tile roof, four gables and awnings.”
The men’s department was placed on the opposite of the building with the work clothing to the rear next to the shoe department. Also, the Globe store was to be part of the Federated Stores of America, an organization of some 1400 department stores from all over the country. With this association the Globe stores and others in the group could offer prices competitive to other stores or by mail order.
The Globe store took advantage of an upcoming high school football game to advertise some women’s ready-to-wear items. One headline in the ad read “Stand Up and Cheer!” and added “For this Unusual Value.” They offered a “swagger suit” – apparently a jacket and skirt combination that was described as being form fitting, and with a crepe lining and priced at $8.95 A second item was a woman’s coat and the ad asked the question “How about this for a kick-off?” These varied in price from $19.50 to $27.50.