These photos appeared in the Buffalo Courier Sunday Magazine, New Year’s Day 1911. The quality of the images isn’t good enough to see what is in those window displays, but they still represent a great look at the retail scene on Main Street downtown more than 100 years ago.
Where possible, the 1910 images are presented with Google images of the current look of the same space.
Usually, a smart shopper can find a relatively inexpensive turkey that won’t bust the family’s bank while still allowing everyone to share in late autumn’s all-American communal meal. But before the days of shoppers’ cards and even freezers, a Thanksgiving turkey was a much more expensive proposition.
Leading up to the holiday, Buffalo’s public markets “pushed Thanksgiving fowl into the limelight” with the sale of live turkeys — all to be butchered and dressed while you wait. You couldn’t buy a turkey until the few days right before, but for those days, a cacophony of gobbles filled the air around the Broadway, Chippewa and Elk markets.
While having a turkey for Thanksgiving has been the holiday’s hallmark for almost 400 years, the price hasn’t always been in everyone’s reach. In 1928, the price for a turkey at one of Buffalo’s public markets was between 50 and 55 cents a pound, which adjusted for inflation, is about $7 or $8 per pound.
The “buxom twenty-pounder” one poultry man described to a reporter would cost as much as $140 in 2016 dollars, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics price calculator.
It wasn’t just turkeys — meat, as a commodity, was much more expensive in general. Ducks were 30 cents a pound, chickens around 33 cents. A goose could be had for 25 cents, and the most affordable meat for your Thanksgiving table would have been rabbit at a reasonable 20 cents a pound.
The essentials for cooking the bird were on sale leading up to the big day in 1928 — Weed & Company, Buffalo’s biggest hardware and bric-a-brac store, had plenty of Thanksgiving utensils available for sale.