Black Friday shopping at Twin Fair, 1975

       By Steve Cichon

Twin Fair Department stores, owned and operated in Buffalo, first opened at Walden Avenue and Dick Road in Cheektowaga in 1956. By the time the ’60s rolled around, there were four local locations.

Over the next 10 years, Twin Fair continued to open stores and grow outside of Western New York by buying other discount retailers in Ohio and Connecticut. There were 375 Twin Fair stores.

Twin Fair locations, 1969

In 1978, Twin Fair bought Buffalo’s struggling heritage retailer Hens & Kelly, which left the company bleeding red ink. The last 14 Twin Fair stores closed in 1982, and were reopened as Gold Circle stores.

During the mid-1970s, Twin Fair was at the height of its glory, and chances are pretty good that if you were a Buffalonian then, you likely got a Christmas present or two that was purchased at Twin Fair.

Here are some select items from Twin Fair’s 1975 Thanksgiving Day circular.

In 1975, LED watches, with a bright red digital display, were all the rage. The special purchase price of $39.97 equals $182.78 in 2018 dollars.

The Fisher-Price toys above and below, most of them manufactured in East Aurora, were familiar with just about any child who grew up in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. In 2018 dollars, $10.99 equals $50.26 and $6.88 equals $31.46 in current buying power.

Tinsel icicles grew in popularity in the 1950s and through the 1960s, but during those years, it was predominantly made of lead. Just a week before Christmas in 1971, Congressman John Moss (D, CA) made headlines around the country when he accused the FDA of withholding information about the dangers of lead-based tinsel and the possibility of lead poisoning from it.

The following year, the FDA promised that there wouldn’t be “a single strand” of lead-based tinsel on store shelves, effectively banning the heavy metal in production of the decoration. But for a lot of folks, the lead-free plastic stuff lost too much of its sparkle. Plus, eventually, veterinarians told people with pets to avoid the shiny plastic icicles, which can cause problems when dogs or cats accidentally eat some.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.