Every Christmas, Higbee's department store on Public Square dazzled Clevelanders with a shower of ornaments and lights. Much like its longtime inspiration, Marshall Field's in Chicago, Higbee's "learned how to become a beautifully tied package of Christmas surprises to delight the multitude of customers," company executive Herb Strawbridge once wrote. On the 10th floor, down the hall from the art deco Silver Grille, kids lined up to see Santa and shopped for gifts in the Twigbee Shop, a tot-sized store inside a many-turreted castle.
On the main level, beneath the holiday lights and chandeliers, men's shirts vied with perfumes for shoppers' attention. One of Higbee's 1963 newspaper ads assured women that "he'll like the trim appearance [and] new comfort" of $2 Marum Woolflex socks. The store figured men needed more advice about what to buy, pointing them to the second floor Stag Shop, which "takes the puzzled-about-gifts male shopper competently in hand" and "completes his gift list with understanding and perfection." Gifts for women ranged from $8 bow blouses in Dacron polyester crepe to $550 mink capes and stoles.
The sounds of hammers and saws now resound where shoppers' footsteps once did. The Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, set to open this spring, plans to install 680 slot machines and 30 gaming tables on Higbee's first floor.
12:00 AM EST
November 17, 2011