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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Shoe City: 1920

Shoe City: 1920

"Hahn's Coliseum, interior." A flag-bedecked footwear sale held by the Hahn's chain of shoe stores at Washington D.C.'s Center Market in July 1920. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Late again!

Did I miss the sale?? Where are the crowds of consumers rushing to stock up on shoes I'd heard about?


We used to shop at the Hahn Store at Albemarle Street and Connecticut Avenue NW, now all I have as a reminder is a steel shoe horn they used to include with a new purchase. An excellent store with a good staff. But that shoe horn takes me back about 56 years to when I was in high school.

Center Market

So here you see why the building would be familiar in the Herald ad. (BTW I bought most of my shoes from Hahn until they went out business in 1995.)

Crisis of soles

That ad is the first I've heard of the Great Shoe Glut of 1920. Was that a thing, or mere ballyhoo?

11 o'Clock Bulletin

Over 200 salespeople! Click to enlarge.

Shoe salesmen

stanton_square's speculation about all those guys being sales clerks is correct. Until recent times (well, if you can include my childhood years as "recent") each customer was waited upon individually, even in the humblest shoe store. The stock was kept in a mysterious (to me) area accessible only to the salesman via a drapery-shrouded portal. I still feel a bit weird doing everything myself in these self-service days. Presumably this photo was taken before the doors were opened to hordes of shoe shoppers yearning to be shod.

Reserve Stocks at Consistent Concessions

Am I right in interpreting that all these men looking at the camera are sales clerks waiting for customers? They are all wearing similar clothes: rolled-up sleeves and no jackets. Would any business ever ask patrons to pose in this way for the camera? I count 60+ clerks, an astounding ratio of salespeople-to-square-footage compared to today's norms.

Washington Post, June 20, 1920.

The Pick of the Market in Women's White Shoes
Joins the Great Mark-Down

The fame of Hahn's wonderful Mark-Down has spread through the market—and makers are giving their co-operation in offering us their reserve stocks at consistent concessions. We are very discriminating in what we accept, however, for even at Mark-Down prices the Hahn standard of quality must be maintained. …

The Mark-Down is making broken lots and short lines rapidly and as fast as they are created we're turning them into the ‘Bargain Sections’— where you can make your own selection—and our assistants will help to fit your choice.

Tomorrow you'll find rare choosing—especially of the popular White Shoes—the variety is large; and so are the values—and you can be sure of your size in one style or another.

Not Walmart

It's amazing to see so many people and not one who is obese.

Odd man out

That's his bow tie and he's stickin' with it!

"I'm born and bred to be a shoeman"

I think I see Al Bundy!

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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