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  • Laci Barry Post

Shopping at the Big Store in 1950!

Updated: Apr 18

The Big Store, that is what it was called, and it was as big as the name implies! Hudson’s Department Store in Detroit, Michigan offered customers a massive shopping experience.

When I was growing up, my grandmother told me stories about working in the department stores in downtown Anniston, Alabama. In the 1940s and 1950s, Anniston was brimming with commerce and stores, not as big Hudson’s but impressive. During my research, I found so many pictures of grand window displays and shopping ads. When my story moved to Detroit, I discovered Hudson’s in my research and had to include it. What it must have been like to shop in The Big Store in 1950!

Here are some interesting and amazing facts about the store:

  • Joseph Lowthian Hudson opened the first part of the store in 1891.

  • The store grew to 2,124,316 square feet large and to 410 feet high, making it the tallest department store in the world.

  • It had 32 floors, 51 passenger elevators, 17 freight elevators, 8 employee elevators, and 48 escalators.

  • The store had 10 private employee restrooms, 39 men’s restrooms, and 50 women’s restrooms, which as a woman, I appreciate. The women’s restroom on the 4th floor had 85 stalls!

  • If you needed to try something on, there were 705 fitting rooms to choose from.

  • The stores dining areas served 10,000 meals a day to its customers and 6,000 meals a day to its employees. Two of the most popular menu items were the Maurice salad and Canadian cheese soup. The soup sounds yummy!

  • There were 49 grand window displays facing the outside streets to allure customers into the store.

  • Shoppers could browse through a selection of 600,000 items from 16,000 vendors from 40 different countries.   

  • On Armistice Day and other patriotic holidays each year, the store unfurled the largest American flag in the world. The original flag was 235 feet long and 104 feet tall. Each star was 5.5 feet high, which is taller than me!

  • With the city’s decline, Hudson’s closed in 1983 after 90 years of business.

  • Sadly, the building was destroyed in 1998.  


“He steered them through the thick, motley crowd to

Hudson’s Department Store.

Owen squealed as they winded their way through the

store’s colossal revolving doors, his young mind

contemplating how doors like that were possible. They were

inside now, and Rosemary’s hazel eyes widened as usual at the store’s immaculate beauty.

Mrs. Crockett, her former manager at Wakefield’s Department Store in Anniston, would

have approved of the white floors and glass tabletops that gleamed with thousands of

pieces of merchandise in every color for the shopper to meander through and spend more

money on than needed."

The Final Song, Chapter 4 

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