Deperately Seeking, Shoes?

Surely anyone who has seen the 1985 movie Desperately Seeking Susan remembers the jacket. After all it did pretty much hold the “key” to the entire movie. But don’t forget it was Susan herself that decided the boots were indeed worth trading the jacket for.

Madonna Boot
“The Boot” – Available exclusively at Bakers Shoes.

By the time the movie was released the Madonna craze had already begun and thankfully for us pieces could be found in the local shopping malls. Frederick’s of Hollywood was seeing an increase in the sales of the Merry Widow, the longline bra that Madonna frequently wore. Baker/Leeds, a leading shoe store popular with high school and college aged shoppers, was also able to jump in on the trend by introducing “The Boot”. Cause what else would you call it? Each store was given a limited stock of boots, and when those were gone stores were able to take individual orders. The boots were produced in Missouri so it really wouldn’t take too long before your order was ready. But for some teens that was not satisfactory. Just like Susan they wanted their boots now.

madonna seeking susan
“Susan” is desperate for these boots.

Surprisingly to this day it seems the poor boot is the least sought after. It might cost you several hundreds of dollars to get your hands on The Boot originally sold at Bakers/Leeds, but it will cost you thousands to get one of the promo jackets briefly sold through MTV. Julien’s Auctions has auctioned off a movie worn jacket for over $250,000, and even one of the earrings was able to fetch $12,500. Yet when one half of the original movie worn boots went under the hammer, the right one, the left was donated to Hard Rock Cafe, it sold for just over $5,000. The (original) Boot deserves a little more than that if you ask me.

Blueprint Archive – Lerner Shops at Euclid Square Mall

Today’s entry to the Blueprint Archive is this lovely sign drawing from Lerner Shops at Euclid Square Mall. The mall, which was developed by Jacobs, Visconsi & Jacobs would open in 1977 and the Lerner Shops would follow suit shortly after opening in 1978.

architectural drawing euclid square mall
1978 sign drawing for Lerner Shops at Euclid Square Mall

In the 1970s Lerner Shops had already established themselves as a major player amongst women’s fashion retailers. At one point they were even America’s largest chain of fashion specialists. Held in high regard amongst multiple generations of shoppers, Lerner Shops would offer all of the newest styles to complement any occasions, from  daytime versatile to nighttime alluring, customers knew they could find the look they were after at Lerner.

Lerner Storefront
Though not the Euclid Square store, This image from a 70s Rapid-American Corporation (majority owner of Lerner Shops) annual report shows what the finished storefront may have looked like.

The Euclid Square Mall store would eventually move from space B-252 to the A-156 location where it would remain until closing in the early 2000s.

After its days as a Lerner, the store A-156 would go on to become the Euclid Beach Boys Event Center and Museum which featured memorabilia from local amusement parks Euclid Beach, Geauga Lake, and Chippewa Lake.

Lerner euclid square mall
Store A-156 – Lerner at Euclid Square Mall marked for doom in its final days during the malls demolition.

The 5-7-9 Shop

Founded in 1959 in Miami, Florida, The Size 5-7-9 shops had already established themselves as a small chain of specialty stores catering to small size women by 1970, when they were purchased by The Edison Brothers Shoe Company. Already an established retailer in their own right, operating such shops as Bakers, Chandlers, and Joan Bari, the Edison Brothers company were looking to diversify and enter into the apparel retail field.

Shopping at 5-7-9 in the 70s

The Edison Brothers proved to be quite successful with their foray into apparel sales. By 1979 the company had grown the number of 5-7-9 locations to 130 as well as adding another fashion store, Jeans West to their portfolio.

579 shopping at the mall in the 70s

The image Edison Brothers looked to project with their 5-7-9 shops was that the store was for the young, upbeat, and alive. Salespersons were to be attractive and fashion minded. The store décor was designed to project the “imaginative setting young moderns liked to live” (I’m not even sure what that means?).

shopping at 579 store
Young moderns enjoying their shopping experience at 5-7-9

Specializing in name-brand women’s fashions in smaller sizes, 5-7-9 carried such names as Trousers Up, College Town, First Glance, and Bobbie Brooks.

Kim Bassinger for Bobbie Brooks
1978 Ad for Bobbie Brooks, one of the famous-brand names available at 5-7-9

As with all things, nothing lasts forever and in 1991 with Edison Brothers struggling, the company proclaimed that 5-7-9 along with several other stores were not performing at the expected level. Adjustments were made to merchandising and to improvements in inventory and expense control, to which initially the 5-7-9 shops responded positively. However this positive response wasn’t enough to turn the Edison Brothers around and in 1999 the company went belly up and 5-7-9 would be bought up by AIJJ Enterprises who also owns Rainbow Shops.

5-7-9 Shop in Euclid, Ohio via Google Street View

I was actually quite surprised to find that 5-7-9 stores are still out there, in the wild, though now known for being a low-middle end fashion retailer rather than the innovate brand the Edison Brothers strove for in the 70s.

Store Showcase: Foxmoor Casuals

Foxwood Casuals Storefront
Foxwood Casuals, Washington Mall 1968 – Observer Reporter

Foxwood Casuals? Yes, in the beginning, 1963 to be exact, it was Foxwood Casuals, Inc., established in Pittsburgh, PA.

Foxmoor Casuals at Summit Mall, Akron, Ohio - Akron Beacon Journal 1977
Foxmoor Casuals at Summit Mall, Akron, Ohio – Akron Beacon Journal 1977

Foxwood Casuals quickly became the swiningest specialty shop around. It carried everything the “with-it” miss could dream of in clothes and accessories. Within roughly seven to eight years additional stores were opened throughout Pennsylvania and also in surrounding states.

The store itself was relaxed, rustic, and antiquey. With current hits being played in the background, it was a terrific setting to showcase the most up to the minute fashions. Even the salesgirls dressed in their snappiest Foxwood finds. It was once said that Foxwood buyers would visit various fashion capitals in the US and Europe to stay in tune with the fashion trends. Indeed, Miss Mansfield (Ohio) was one of the first employed at Foxmoor Casuals in Richland Mall in 1969.

Image courtesy Bob Connors from the Off the Rack - Retail Past and Present Facebook Group
Image courtesy Bob Connors from the Off the Rack – Retail Past and Present Facebook Group

Foxwood Casuals joined / was acquired by Melville Shoe Corporation in 1968. The brand was relabeled Foxmoor Casuals and seem to be a great fit for Melville, who also held the already successful Chess King. The plan was to have an additional 173 Foxmoor Casuals stores open from one end of the US to the other, in the span of five years. By 1982 there were a total of 588 Foxmoor Casuals retail stores.

Foxmoor Casuals Shopping Bag
Foxmoor Shopping Bag – 70s era

All the while, a company by the name of Dylex Limited was establishing itself as one of the largest specialty retailers in Canada. In the early 80’s they set their sights on the US market and in 1984 Dylex purchased what had grown to be a total of 614 Foxmoor Casuals stores. Focused on freshening up the look of the store as well as the merchandise to once again stay in tune with times, it only took Dylex a year to start seeing an increase in profit. However, this life for Foxmoor Casuals would sadly be much shorter than it’s first, with bankruptcy being the final cause of death.

Foxmoor Storefront at Arsenal Mall - Storefronts & Facades 1986
Foxmoor Storefront at Arsenal Mall – Storefronts & Facades 1986

“Our store is for the young, the mod, the altogether in crowd. We are really the coming scene.” Alex Lapina, Pittsburgh home office (News Journal, Oct 21 1969)

January Clearance – 1976

Check out these cool retro inspired Foxmoor shirts from Untitled Colours