Christmas Shopping in Buffalo 1910

By Steve Cichon

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.

AM&A’s original location was directly across Main Street from it’s best-remembered 1960-94 location. The building in the photo was demolished to make way for the Main Place Mall. (Buffalo Stories archives)

JN Adam & Co. 391 Main Street. JN’s was at this location until 1960, when the store closed and AM&A’s took over the space. (Buffalo Stories archives)

“Hanan Shoe Company, 464-466 Main Street, opposite Tifft House.” Just north of Court Street on the west side Main. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Walbridge & Co, 392-394 Main Street, now in the footprint of the Main Place Mall. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Flint & Kent, 560 Main Street. The storefront became downtown’s location of The Sample before making way for The Key Towers. (Buffalo Stories archives)

The Wm Hengerer Co- 465 Main Street. (Buffalo Stories archives)

The Wilson Company, 563-565 Main Street. Now in the footprint of the M&T Center, just south of Chippewa. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Weed & Co, 292-298 Main Street, across from the Ellicott Square Building. (Buffalo Stories archives)

The Sweeney Co, 268 Main Street. The building still stands, and is now known as The Sweeney Building. (Buffalo Stories archives)

H.A. Meldrum Company, 460-470 Main Street. Herbert Meldrum was the son of AM&A’s co-founder Alexander Meldrum. (Buffalo Stories archives)

JM Brecker & Company, Genesee & High Sts, burned down on Christmas Day 1910. (Buffalo Stories archives)

What It Looked Like Wednesday: How Buffalo bought a turkey in 1928

By Steve Cichon

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.

These three boys each bought their family’s bird at the Elk Street Market from Barneth Satuloff, poultry merchant on Elk Street on the Sunday before the holiday, but sales usually hit their peak on the Tuesday or Wednesday before the Thursday celebration. (Buffalo Stories archives)

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.

Buffalo Stories archives

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.