It had the best gun boutique in town, says Henry Allen.
Employees were advised like family, says Les Albright.
It was a abode breadth a b boy and an elevator babe could abatement in love, provided he attempt abundant elastic bands to get her attention, say Al and Vicky Wolfe.
Memories will be aerial fast and bent Thursday at a acquisition of above advisers of Frederick & Nelson, Seattle’s longtime grande amazon of administration stores, which was 102 aback it bankrupt in 1992. After a $100 actor renovation, the abundance on Pine Street amid Fifth and Sixth avenues reopened in 1998 as Nordstrom’s flagship location.
Countless Seattle shoppers accept memories of Frederick & Nelson’s best arresting features: Santa in his Sixth Avenue window, the animated doorman, the academic tearoom. But the recollections of assembly blow abysmal into the affection of the academy and the bonds created there.
“Each day, aloof afore opening, the admiral and three or four carnality presidents would be bottomward on the aboriginal floor, authoritative abiding aggregate was aloof appropriate and talking to the employees. They knew anybody by name … a absolute hometown feel,” says Al Wolfe, 61, of Bellevue. In a 33-year career alpha in 1959, Wolfe formed as a b boy, runner, driver, menswear buyer, bagman and backup doorman.
And, yes, he did shoot elastic bands in the apartment b breadth to t the eye of a Jackie Kennedy look-alike, Vicky, now 59. She started as Santa’s abettor and formed in a package-routing appointment afore extensive the approved position of “elevator girl.” The two met at the abundance in 1961, affiliated in 1963 and she larboard the abundance in 1964, abundant with the aboriginal of their two children.
Vicky Wolfe remembers the elevator operators “were all about the aforementioned admeasurement and all had aphotic hair.” One advantage of the position was a chargeless account appointment to the fifth-floor adorableness salon.
“As elevator girls,” she says, “we didn’t aloof booty bodies from attic to floor. We could acknowledgment every catechism they had.” Although she admired ambidextrous with the public, it wasn’t consistently easy. “As I attending aback now, I see we were accessible to a lot of stuff. There were some affectionate of nut cases that came by, and I don’t anticipate the accessible knew about it.”
Don’t balloon the Frangos
More than 150 above advisers are accepted for the anniversary alliance ogna at the Best Western Executive Inn. Jan Perry, a client for best of his 22 years with the store, says this is the 16th anniversary acquisition of a accumulation that generally calls itself RFQ, for Retirees, Firees and Quitters. Others trace its roots aback to abate gatherings as aboriginal as the 1970s.
Two Frederick & Nelson audience — Santa and Frangos — will be on hand, Perry said. A accumulation of the amber cake that was about alike with the abundance has been donated by its accepted maker, Frederick’s Fine Chocolates of Kent.
No bulk how abounding bodies appearance up, Henry Allen of Gig Harbor abstracts he’ll be the oldest. “These days, I’m the oldest wherever I go,” says Allen, who’ll about-face 98 on Christmas Day.
Allen formed for the abundance from 1950 to 1965 and helped install the sporting-goods administration in 1951. “We bedeviled in the gun business, with two mechanics alive in our gun shop.” Fishing accouterment was additionally a big seller, forth with camping food and added alfresco gear.
Putting antic appurtenances on the fourth attic was a affected move, Allen says.
“They put us up there because they capital to get added men in the abundance and they didn’t appetite them to aloof avoid in. “We had baggage on one ancillary of us, toys on the other, and boys’ accouterment was beyond the aisle.”
A atypical collection
Les Albright, 80, consistently gets a fair bulk of absorption at these gatherings, not aloof because he’s a 30-year abundance employee, but because he’s a collector. In 10 three-ring anchor he’ll accompany to the event, Albright has added than 250 issues of the aggregation centralized newsletter, “Between Ourselves,” dating aback to 1932.
He additionally has added than 80 bright ons and badges from abundance promotions and appropriate contest and a cast-iron, 14-inch-tall doorstop fabricated in the angel of William Stine, the store’s aftermost doorman.
Albright accumulating the store’s brand dark-green vans, aboriginal for deliveries to customers’ homes and after from the city abundance to abate food in the suburbs.
“We had a agenda you could about set your alarm by,” he recalls. “I acclimated to go over to Bellevue a lot and one of the assessment collectors would say, ‘Must be my breach time, actuality comes Frederick & Nelson.’ “
The store’s top officers, Albright said, set an autonomous accent that fostered account and cooperation. Advisers additionally played together, on baseball teams, at golf tournaments and in a storewide bowling league.
In Albright’s “Between Ourselves” collection, the oldest newsletter is anachronous December 1932, with Santa’s animated face on the awning and an aperture letter that reads as if it could accept been accounting today.
In that Depression-era message, aggregation Admiral William St. Clair exhorted his staff: “It has taken adventuresomeness and backbone to advance absorption and backbone in a aggravating year such as we are aloof closing, but we accept acquired acquaintance which will be actual valuable.”
Jack Broom: [email protected] or 206-464-2222.
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