Christmas Shopping in Decades Past

December 18, 1964 Holiday Shopping Advertisement in the Mendocino Beacon for Matson’s Men’s Wear

Nowadays it’s trendy (and logical) to “shop locally,” but decades ago that’s what everyone did for the holidays and the merchants who advertised in the Mendocino Beacon and Fort Bragg Advocate-News wanted readers to know everything their hearts desired was waiting for them right here on the coast.

In 1929 the Post Office Store in Fort Bragg (a new business in an old post office facility?) wanted parents to know dolls were $1.00 but “value” dolls were 50 cents. They also offered tree ornaments, real moving picture machines (?), fishing tackle, kiddie cars, games and chocolate drops for 25 cents a pound.

The Caspar Lumber Company Store offered foreign and domestic dry goods, and Newgard’s Store on Albion’s south hill had fancy umbrellas, card table covers, bracelets and pillows. The S&E Garage on Main Street in Mendocino was selling Willys-Overland Whippet autos with fingertip controls for $535. Merchants suggested shopping early for the best selection.

In 1949 the Beacon said if you weren’t shopping you should go to the Roller Rink in the Odd Fellows Hall for good clean fun with the latest music, lessons available and popular prices. A shop called Lillian’s had, for the lady who reads in bed, the most flattering styles of bed jackets in flattering styles and colors.

A yearlong subscription to the Beacon was $2.50 – a great holiday gift. Stauer’s Motors had a four-door Chevy sedan for $1,841 and Burke Motor Company had a Model A from 1929 for $125. Northwestern Pacific Railroad wanted to take you to the Bay Area or Eureka to shop and offered overnight Pullman accommodations with breakfast, or coach seats in smoking or non-smoking cars.

PG&E took a quarter page advertisement to suggest modern colored electric lamps ran for a few pennies a night for electricity. Remember Christmas Clubs? Deposit two dollars every week in your account at Bank of America and at Christmas you’d have about $100 to spend on gifts.

Matson’s Men’s Wear in 1964 suggested buying their scotch filled golf balls and Rex Pharmacy offered electric razors for ladies. Sea Fair was promoting electric blankets and Mendosa’s had 10 pounds of potatoes for 55 cents for holiday dining. Bank of America wanted you to sign up for a credit card. You couldn’t take a Pullman rail car to the City by that time, but if you got there the Golden State Hotel offered a room with a bath for $8.50.

Lizbet’s Fashions in 1969 had “pleasingly presented” panties for one dollar. And the Regal Beauty Supply shop offered specials for bewildered male shoppers. Anchor Trailer Sales wanted you to buy a new mobile home for Christmas. Café Beaujolais offered dinner for six dollars if you were not doing it yourself with #1 hams for 79 cents a pound and two cans of pumpkin for 45 cents. Noyo Bowl would sell you bowling balls, shoes and bowling ball bags for presents. Fort Bragg Tire offered four Firestones for $110.

Then, as now, the message is “Shop Locally” and discovers treasures close to home.