Like many big towns, my hometown of Tulsa had a variety of shopping options from mom and pop stores to five and dime stores, large department stores the lined the downtown streets and huge shopping malls in the suburbs.
One that comes to mind is TG&Y Five & Dime variety store. Tulsa had a number of them back in the day.
The chain, which was based in Oklahoma City, was founded in 1935 by Rawdon E. Tomlinson, Enoch L. “Les” Gosselin and Raymond A. Young, thus the name, TG&Y. At the chain’s height there were 900 stores in 29 states from California to Florida. They were similar in nature to a Ben Franklin store.
My favorite part was the plastic model car section with everything a youngster needed to put together and paint a model car. I bought a few model kits through the years.
My mom made her own wreaths for decorating graves on Memorial Day. She got much of her supplies at a local TG&Y store. She also purchased items for her wreaths from Rathbone’s Flair Flowers in Tulsa, a company that is still in business to this day. She also bought material there for making a dress or blouse.
Looboyle’s Outdoor store was another Tulsa favorite of mine. They had two locations in town and were popular spots for sports and outdoor enthusiasts. They sold everything from fishing gear to lawn mowers, outdoor and sports equipment and more. I bought a lot fishing lures, many of which I still have, camping gear, bicycle tubes, a Lawn Boy lawnmower one year and much more through the years.
Tulsa’s Joe Krieger, who worked at the Looboyle’s sports department, hosted a popular fishing show on local channel 2 in Tulsa each week, which I enjoyed watching.
The Tulsa stores closed in 1982.
OTASCO (Oklahoma Tire and Supply Company), a company that specialized in auto parts and appliances was first established in 1918 by three Jewish Lithuanian immigrant brothers, Sam, Maurice and Herman Sanditen. In 1968, the company had 455 stores in 12 states. Outside of a few remaining OTASCO stores that have 99-year leases in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana, the company has been gone since 1988.
I’d fill up a book with all the record and tape stores in Tulsa I spent money at back in the day. Peaches, Sound Warehouse, Starship Record and Tapes and Honest John’s Records were favorite stops of mine.
When I was throwing the Tulsa World newspaper in the 1970s with my mom, the owner of Honest John’s lived on my paper route and subscribed to the Sunday paper. I would trade him a paper for a couple of months for a new cassette tape or record album. It was a great way to build my music library for basically free.
Another favorite was Harrington’s Men and Boys Clothing store in downtown Tulsa. Harrington’s was the go-to place for Boy Scout uniform apparel and accessories.
I have lots of great memories from shopping at these stores.
Shopping has changed a lot with the introduction of Amazon, eBay and many other on-line outlets offering everything you will ever need. Even though buying on-line is easier and often more convenient, I miss the good old days of going shopping with my family for Christmas gifts and going to the five and dime store with my mom to buy material for a new dress or items to make her homemade wreathes.
Like vinyl records that are making a comeback these days, I would like to see local businesses, mom and pop stores and five & dime variety stores make a comeback. It would be good for our economy and help with the creation of jobs, too!
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.