Something for everyone

By the 1920s, sales of ready-to-wear clothing had reached unprecedented levels—spurred  by rising incomes, easy credit, and the increasing social acceptability of spending money (and accumulating debt) on consumer goods that were not absolute necessities.  

T.W. Marse Department Store, Taylor, Texas, about 1925

T.W. Marse Department Store, Taylor, Texas, about 1925

Courtesy of Taylor Public Library

“We are a clothes crazy people—restless and acquisitive about fashion as everything else.”

–Vogue, 1938

Cash register, 1919

Cash register, 1919

Gift of National Cash Register Company

Cash register, 1919

Cash register, 1919

Gift of National Cash Register Company

Department store charge coin, 1920s-1930s

Department store charge coin, 1920s-1930s

Stores began to issue keychain tokens with a shopper’s house account number.

Department store charge coin, 1920s-1930s

Department store charge coin, 1920s-1930s

Department store charge coin, 1920s-1930s

Department store charge coin, 1920s-1930s

Marshall Field, Chicago, 1910s

Marshall Field, Chicago, 1910s

Courtesy of Larry Bird

Sub-structure of Marshall Field, Chicago

Sub-structure of Marshall Field, Chicago

Courtesy Illinois Digital Archive

 

Department stores from large urban palaces to small-town emporiums offered clothes at a variety of fixed, no-haggle prices—often on multiple floors. Many also had bargain basements selling marked-down or overstocked garments.