Holiday deals at a defunct city department store

Finlay Straus describes itself as a jeweler/optician in this Depression-era New York Daily News ad from December 19, 1934.


But based on the merchandise they’re pushing as part of a Christmas sale (and their locations, like Fordham Road and Fulton Street), the store is more like a Macy’s or a Target—selling the “practical” gifts that make good presents for people you don’t know very well or are easy to please.


Seventy-eight years to the day after this ad ran, some of these gifts still pass as okay, such as appliances like mixers and juicers as well as tableware.

Of course, the typewriter, radio, and cigarette case/lighter have been relegated to the dustbin of Christmas presents past.

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12 Responses to “Holiday deals at a defunct city department store”

  1. Damon Campagna Says:

    Of course, the Straus flagship store lives on as the “new” Macy’s in downtown Brooklyn. There is a plaque on the building commemorating its history.

  2. Damon Campagna Says:

    D’oh! I wrote too soon — this is Finlay Straus, not Abraham & Straus. Sorry about that last comment!

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    I assumed there was a connection too. But I haven’t found evidence of one.

  4. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    I must have had 10-15 portable typewriters much like the Remington Portable on which I used to type out my stories while traveling around the USA. In the 1980s-90s I felt like a real writer, like a Hemingway or Faulkner, which I can’t get out of my computers, they seem so unreal. No wonder bookstores are closing shop, where are the real writers anyway?

  5. Linkage: MTA Chair Joe Lhota to Resign; Williamsburg Cinemas Opens – Says:

    […] down and run for mayor [NYT] · Williamsburg Cinemas opens its doors today [BK Paper] · Christmas ads in the Daily News from 1934 [Ephemeral] · Trapeze center coming to Hamilton Fish Park in LES [DNAinfo] · Phew! JFK […]

  6. Makeout Says:

    Forget about the pony I want the cigarette case! Thank you!

  7. BabyDave Says:

    The cigarette case is way cool, but I want the Midget Radio. “Long and short waves.” Police signals! Aeroplane stations! Amateur signals! For a quarter a week! (It certainly speaks to the Depression that one might be paying for a radio for more than half the year.)

  8. Beth Says:

    They may be relegated to presents past but some of these “practical gifts,” like the toaster/tray, radio and typewriter, are now collectible to the right person. Interesting how the value of things change over the course of decades.

  9. wildnewyork Says:

    I’m partial to the midget radio. I can imagine a kid sitting in front of it enjoying the Shadow or the Lone Ranger.

    • Damon Campagna Says:

      Ah, the Amazing Midget Radio makes an illustrious appearance in Michael Chabon’s “Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,” in which it is the flagship product of a struggling novelty company, and later the sponsor of the comic book produced by the novel’s protagonists. Chabon’s attention to period detail is impeccable.

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