Shopping in Hammond, Indiana.... 1900 to 1940


If you were to walk into a General Store like this one during the 1930s, you would see a collection of necessary household items that you would need for your family. Selection was limited. Prices were fixed. Credit was the merchant's option. (1938 Photo)

For the most part, shopping in downtown Hammond was pretty rustic.  Selection of goods was limited to what was available to the merchant. Goods were bought by merchants based on what they thought might be bought by their customers. There were few luxuries because people had little disposable income and the merchants did not want to invest in items that could not be sold.



    Nearly all of the retail stores were long and narrow inside. For the most part they were single levels (elevators had not been invented to make additional floors easily available to the public.)

Store keepers waited on their customers or hired clerks to assist. It was truly a personal experience with direct interaction between buyer and seller.

This store appears to be a dry goods store with household lamps and an assortment of teas and grains along the wall.  Customers were not encouraged to help themselves and selected items were set on the counter for wrapping and pricing.


This little store -- again a narrow interior -- provided a soda fountain and cigars placed behind a glass case. It was not unusual to have someone greet you at the door to ask if you had any special needs. Having a "greeter" at the door was not originally a Wal-Mart idea.







Here is a photo taken inside the  Minas Store on State Street. You can see some of the goods available for purchase, in this case a selection of shotguns and rifles.  Hunting was still a very active enterprise for early Hammond settlers.  Deer and Black Bear were readily available for sport and for food.


  Proud hunters of the Hammond region display their prizes by hanging them on a rack in front of Millikan's Sport Shop on State Street. At the far right you can see four black bears, evidence that bear was common to the Calumet Region. Bear was often hunted by Native Americans as a change from venison. Early historians also tell of Cougars throughout the area and settlers were wary of coming across a mean spirited cat when walking in the wilderness.








The Colonial Sporting Goods Company is moving. Moving trucks, including the panel van from National Cash Register, are ready to haul away the store contents while idle men watch in hopes of finding a last minute bargain.


  This picture of the interior of the E.C. Minas store in Hammond, Indiana, was presented in a retail trade journal as an example of the finest selection of goods.  It reported that the E.C. Minas Department Store was comparable to Chicago's Marshall Field store in quality and selection.    
    Many early merchants had to depend upon their family to mind the store and participate in clerking, stocking, selling and keeping the store clean. It was not uncommon to find a wife and her husband together inside the store.



  This little department store at 247 State Street displayed a variety of household goods needed by working families. Five female clerks pose for the camera outside (above) and later, four return for a more personal, up close photo. Good detail and clarity in these young women working to establish themselves in Hammond, Indiana.  



The location of the 247 State Street building where the sales clerks are posing, can be seen as the building on the left with the Mail Pouch sign. Mail Pouch was a popular tobacco product that had an extensive ad campaign throughout the United States. Notice the tilted utility pole in front of the building. Now look at the photo above this one and you can see the same utility pole on a tilted angle. If you look carefully, you can also see the same sign that says "5 & 10 Store". (Next to the tilted utility pole). By observing different photographs you can get a better understanding of where the storefronts and businesses were located.

In the picture below, in the upper window to the left are wire heart-shaped on a stick (looks like a tennis racquet). This was a rug-beater. something every house had when they took their rugs outside, hung them on a clothesline, and then beat them to get rid of the dust and dirt. This was also a way in which housewives could relieve their pent up frustration. Women kept their living room area rugs clean using rug beaters before the advent of the electric vacuum cleaner. These pictures of the store clerks were taken on separate days. Note that the window displays are different in the two pictures.



The Lunch Room Experience

Eating establishments reflected the ethnic food of the area's immigrants. Women were employed to cook and serve food that was preferred by the public. But the simple decor, with chairs and tables, were all that was required for the more inexpensive diners. Notice the coat hooks along the wall on the left. Just make yourself at home...


The Dining Room Experience

From lunch rooms to dining rooms, downtown Hammond had it all. But the long, narrow room with individual tables placed along opposing walls gave dinner guest more opportunity for private conversation... and higher prices for their menu items.






Having industry and businesses that were growing, it was important that merchants and business people could buy commercial items on a local level.

Standard Equipment and Supply Company became an important resource in sustaining the growth of Hammond.

  With the advent of the automobile, service industries sprang up to keep the automobiles on the road. Above is a tire company, the "Car Rubber Tire Company" in 1920.   You also had to keep the automobiles tuned up. Charles Barnes owned a successful automobile garage on the corner of southeast corner of Summer Street and Calumet Avenue. The license plate reads "1921".  
  The tire store at 711 Calumet Avenue in Hammond, Indiana, had a large supply of tires for almost every type of vehicle.
  On the corner of Hohman Avenue and Russell Street you would find Dave's Camera store. It carried the latest in cameras and photographic equipment.  Photo circa: 1930s  
  Another general store in Hammond. Bread was kept under a glass case on the right. Bottles were shelved along the wall on the left. Most stores warmed their businesses by coal or wood fired Franklin Stoves, as seen in the center of the image.   Color photography had a long way to go before being part of the post card image. But production houses would take black and white photos and then color them by hand, as seen in this picture of the McGarry's Jewelry Store.



  Hohman - 1930s   Hohman - 1940s   Hohman - 1950s   Hohman - 1960s  

These images and the web pages are maintained by Richard Barnes, HHS'59.

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