One way you could observe National Department Store Day on October 16 is by heading to the nearest department store near you and buying me a birthday present. Far more preferable, I’m sure, is sitting back and enjoying these movies in which a department store plays a major role. It’s up to you, of course. No pressure.
A Christmas Story
National Department Store Day commemorates the kind of store is very slowly disappearing from the landscape. That kind of store is featured prominently in “A Christmas Story.” After all, it is Higbee’s where Ralphie and his brother wait in the long line to see Santa while the Old Man and his mom head off to buy Christmas presents. In a true department store, you could conceivably buy all your Christmas gifts and they could range from clothing to a large appliance to toys to kitchen equipment.
Dawn of the Dead
By the time the original “Dawn of the Dead” was released, the old school type of establishment that makes National Department Store Day possible was already on the move toward its eventual extinction. Higbee’s from “A Christmas Story” was representative of the freestanding building that housed department stores. By the time “Dawn of the Dead” was released, many of those original locations were already long since abandoned as the stores became anchors for still relatively new shopping experience of going to the mall. “Dawn of the Dead” uses zombies as metaphor for mindless consumerism, but the living dead could also conceivably be viewed as metaphorical substitutes for the department stores of the day which had no idea they were already the walking dead.
The Crowded Day
This 1954 movie gives you a different perspective to enjoy on National Department Store Day. Of course, that perspective would be more fitting for International Department Store Day since it is one that shows what life in a British department store was like. If you have ever wondered whether the experience of shopping in a department store in England differs from shopping in a department store in America, “The Crowded Day” will give you a chance to find out.
The great Warren William excelled at playing oily businessmen and the one he plays in “Employee’s Entrance” is unfortunately probably pretty close to reality in some situations. National Department Store Day is a day of commemorating the history of the department store and this film provides at least one perspective on how the Great Depression affected the industry. Warren plays a genuine scoundrel who is as concerned with keeping sales up despite a sinking economy as he is with using his power as manager to coerce women desperate for a job into doing whatever it takes to keep that job.