One trip to the store is all it takes to signal that the end of summer is quickly approaching. Summer merchandise is on clearance, fall clothes are on the racks, and school supplies are filling the shelves. We’ve scoured our archives to bring you back-to-school shopping from the past.
By 1890, factories mass-produced garments, and customers could purchase ready-to-wear school clothes from stores or mail-order catalogs.
School clothes weren’t the only thing on many parents’ lists. This 1907 ad listed ink, pens, blotters, pencils, and erasers – slightly different than today’s supply lists.
As department stores became more common, they changed how many Americans shopped. Department stores usually offered higher-priced goods on higher floors, lower-priced items, and close-outs in the basement – hence the term “bargain basement.”
The Great Depression left most families feeling a financial pinch, and even the bargain basement was too expensive for many. To help ease the pain, stores began offering layaway plans. Parents could purchase items and then pay for them in installments. Stores agreed to hold the merchandise until items were paid in full. This ad tells customers that an 18-cent deposit would hold either a girls’ skirt or a boys’ jacket.
Most back-to-school shopping lists include new shoes, and in 1941, a good pair of leather saddle shoes cost around $3.00.
Sweater sets, full skirts, and boys’ dungarees were all the rage for back-to-school shopping in the 1950s.
Another popular 1950s trend was penny loafers. Did you know that a call at the payphone originally cost two cents? Thus, the shoes provided coins for an emergency call.
In the 1970s, calculators entered the classroom and could be found on many back-to-school supply lists. The 1980s and beyond brought an increased emphasis on designer labels, and many parents grappled with the costs of designer brands.
Have you started back-to-school shopping in your family? What are your back-to-school shopping memories? Please share them in the comments below and learn more about back-to-school shopping over the years on Newspapers.com™ today!