Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Sunday, July 21, 2013

That's Progress

One and one-half hours from the Stringam ranch is the city of Lethbridge, Alberta.
When the Stringams really needed to shop, that was the place to go.
There were tons of great stores . . .
Eaton’s.
Woolworth’s.
Kresge’s.
Hoyt’s.
Woolco.
But, if one wanted a bit of adventure, the best was Progress Clothing.
Progress was our favourite place to shop.
It wasn’t what you would call a ‘high-end’ store.
It catered more to the farmers and ranchers in the area.
The people needing sturdy, serviceable, work apparel.
Tough boots.
Heavy leather gloves.
Progress consisted of a long, open room with thick windows facing the street.
Dangling fluorescent light fixtures.
And huge tables set evenly about the old-wood flooring.
Great piles of clothing were stacked on every available surface.
More or less grouped together according to type and size.
Colours were limited. Most articles were blue, green, black or tan.
But choosing pants, shirts or one of the myriad other items that went with working on a ranch was only the first (and less exciting) part.
The true fun of Progress Clothing began when one was holding one’s prospective purchase.
And a salesman approached.
Because the ‘suggested retail price’ on the tag was just that.
A suggestion.
From there, the haggling commenced.
“How much for these pants?”
“The tag says $7.00.”
“But I’m buying four pairs.”
“Hmm . . . okay $6.00.”
“Really? That’s the best you can do?”
“Hey, I’m trying to feed my family!”
“And I’m trying to feed mine!”
“Okay. Okay. $5.00. But that’s my last offer.”
“$4.50?”
And so it went. It was . . . fun.
If you were lucky, you would pay half of what the original sticker stated . . .
I hadn’t been to Progress in quite a while.
I had discovered some of the specialty ‘Western’ shops.
With their high-priced ‘stylish’ western clothes.
And I had my own money.
And no encumbrances.
Then, shortly after I was married, my Husby (a newly acquired encumbrance) and I, feeling both the need to be economical and the desire for some adventure, stopped at the great old store.
I found a pair of warm, winter boots.
Practical boots.
My Husby held them up to the salesman. “How much?” he asked.
The salesman stared at him.
“How much?” he repeated.
The salesman leaned forward and touched the tag. “$8.00,” he said.
“Will you take six?” my Husby asked.
The salesman frowned. “The tag says $8.00,” he repeated.
“Oh. So . . . $8.00?”
“Yes.”
“Oh.”
The store and the clothes were the same.
And the prices.

But the important stuff was different.

10 comments:

  1. No...there's no haggling in stores anymore. The only haggling comes in trying to get the hubs to GO to the store.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Things haven't changed although I'm not sure if ol' Cyril is still around.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cyril! That was his name! I couldn't remember. And I think the haggling left when he did...

      Delete
  3. The only haggling I've ever encountered here is for cars and furniture and then it's not a back-and-forth discussion as much as it's a polite disinterest in closing the sale until an acceptable offer is made.

    Maybe that explains why the whole concept makes me uncomfortable - I didn't grow up learning the fine art!! I'm sure it must have saved a lot of cash for families at that time. I think the markup is quite high on clothing in general, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It embarrasses me, too, when my Husby gets right into it. :) His dad was a past master at dickering and horse-trading. I remember once he traded an old harrows for a van. Quite the accomplishment!

      Delete
  4. Ahh...the dreaded march of time. It a shame how some of your favorite haunts change over time. Sometimes, it's not necessarily a change for the better...

    ReplyDelete
  5. I remember similar stores from my childhood, they were called co-ops, but there was no bargaining with the prices. The ticketed price was the sale price. But the clothes were sturdy and lasted a long time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Loved the clothes! Too bad about the prices! :)

      Delete

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