Niagara Gazette — A Christmas shopping spree in 1950 Niagara Falls might have taken one of the 90,000 city residents along Falls Street where a cup of hot chocolate at the Main Restaurant might have been followed by a stop at Meyers & Deckers Gifts and the Madeira Linen Gift Shop, the Cataract Cigar Store and Roxy Jewelers, the Strand Dress Shop, Harvey & Carey’s Drugstore, the Betty Ann Hat Shop, the Frontier Camera & Photo Supply Store, S.S. Kresge’s and of course, Sears.
After shopping and meeting friends and neighbors in those fine establishments, city residents and throngs of tourists would likely find a seat at a table for lunch at Walgreen’s, the Falls Luncheonette, the Colonial Restaurant, the Lido Grill, the Star Restaurant, or the Ideal Coffee Shop before they went on to spend their hard-earned Christmas Club dollars at Biers, the Cataract Song Shop, Reed’s Jewelers, Kayes Dress Shop, Betty Dixon’s Candy Shop, JN Adam’s Department Store, Nisley Shoes, Amberg & Company Men’s Clothes, Fanny Farmer’s Candy Shop, Yasen’s Jewelers, Esquire Men’s Shop, or Mack’s Men’s Shop, just to mention a few.
And Main Street also had its share of wonders garnished with Season’s Greetings decorations including Thom McAnn Shoes, the Lerner Shops, Ray’s Clothes, Krausmann’s Department Store, Kinney Shoes, Woolworth’s, Belbot’s, Singer’s Drugstore, Day’s of Niagara, Silberberg’s, Grant’s, Wolke’s and of course Jenss’ among many, many others that once served our once burgeoning population.
A lot has changed since those days, not all of it for the better. Much, but not all of what has happened to Christmas in Niagara was the result of forces far beyond our control.
The best of it could be recreated by reversing the total out-flow of local investment and spending in the surrounding suburban communities, and bringing some of it back to the city where smaller retail enterprises and the spirit of entrepreneurship could once again flourish if we can find a way, like so many other similar communities have, to recreate the excitement of unique “downtown” shopping experiences.