Dayton Memories Blog > Downtown Stores
Downtown Stores
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Lili
1 post
Dec 20, 2008
5:53 PM
My family moved to Dayton from Columbus when I was just 11. I attended Oakwood Junior High School briefly and then the Miami Valley School, and then I went off to a boarding school in New England. However, I held several summer jobs in Dayton from 1973-80, while of high school and college age, and some of these were downtown.

There were, at the time, some wonderful stores. Rike's had very upscale merchandise in 74/75; I bought my first "designer" items there, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren clothes. But I'm thinking of the terrific Billy Lewis and the tiny but terrific Demian's Shoes, opened, I think, in 1974. There were also some out-of-the-way downtown boutiques at which I bought clothes, but I can't recall their names. Just before I left for Yale, I bought a pair of butterscotch-colored suede pants at one of them. I saved for weeks.

Billy Lewis was fabulous. My father, a Dayton Daily News editor, bought me a dress that had been featured in SEVENTEEN there, and I spent money I should have been saving for college on Daniel Hechter sweaters and jeans at BL, plus an amazing Giorgio di Sant'Angelo sweater dress that I took to Yale. Demian's Shoes almost ruined me.

But I had classmates at Miami Valley whose family fortunes had been made at Donenfeld's and the Metropolitan. These were, as best I could tell, major stores in downtown Dayton for decades, possibly from the late 19th or early 20th century, but by 1978, when I had a summer job in the newsroom at WHIO, such stores were wilting -- just limping along or already closed. By 1981, when I graduated from college, downtown Dayton was a retail disaster area. Billy Lewis was gone; Demian's was barely hanging on; Rikes and Elder-Beerman were offering merchandise less attractive than one would find at Wal-Mart or K-Mart. Te smaller department stores had disappeared entirely.

This distressed me, because the death of downtown Dayton seemed to coincide with the long, unfortunate death of the papers, the Dayton Daily News and the Journal Herald, whch had been vital and exciting in the 1970's but later slid into "news lite." The DDN is a disaster area now; I know that my father is turning over in his grave.

Still, I'd like to hear from people who shopped in downtown Dayton between 1971 and 1981 and enjoyed the many offerings available. I was just a teenager finding ways to spend my limited clothes budget. Who can tell me stories about finding pretty clothes for special occasions in downtown Dayton from 1930-1980? And who can tell me about the history of Billy Lewis? About Demian's, Donenfeld's, and the Metropolitan? I'd be delighted to hear from anyone!
smurfnana
5 posts
Dec 30, 2008
6:32 PM
I bought a lot of cool clothes in Rikes basement. That's where I bought my first miniskirt. I went to Patterson so I had to be careful when I wore it to school, as they had that "much touch the ground when you're on your knees" rule.
The Joy Shop and Lerners were the best places for prom dresses.
We sometimes slipped out at lunch on Downtown Dayton Day to run to Rikes or Sears to catch the deals.
I had an uncle who worked at Donenfelds in the early 40s. He went from there to a buyer for Rikes, then on to Top Value as their head buyer.
kellyw
1 post
Mar 20, 2009
5:38 PM
Hi
I have been trying to get information on Billy Lewis-Dayton. Was this a retail store or something else. The reason I am asking is I have a leather coat that was made by him. And I am interested in learning about how old it may be, or any information about Billy Lewis of Dayton. Help??
corvettes6
27 posts
Mar 21, 2009
7:17 PM
Billy Lewis was a very exclusive women's clothing store in the Talbott Towers in the 60's.
RIVERDALE RAT
17 posts
Aug 23, 2009
1:11 AM
Anybody remember the Metropolitan clothing store ?
or the Met as they used to call it.
rodat6
66 posts
Aug 23, 2009
1:42 AM
I remember the Met which was not far from the Thom McAnn shoe store with the XRay machine in their lobby that anyone could use. It was fun watching the bones in my feet. The Met was a bit more expensive and exclusive that Elders, Rike's or Sears Roebuck, I worked at Elders for Xmas rush one year along about 1957 or 8.
rfk61
5 posts
Sep 01, 2009
4:01 PM
I remember when the Metropolitan was at the Dayton Mall. When my friends & I would go to the mall, we would just walk on by because we knew we couldn't afford to shop there. Does anyone know if there was a Donenfelds in Xenia? I have vague memories of it. I remember there was a JC Penneys in Xenia and they had an upstairs and the floors were wood and would creak when you walked around up there.
RIVERDALE RAT
177 posts
Sep 06, 2009
8:02 PM
Does the Met still exist in Dayton or have they all gone out of Buisness ?
Riverdale Ghost
237 posts
Sep 02, 2011
8:09 PM
My mother once worked for both Billy Lewis's and Donenfeld's; but, I'm sorry I have no information to add, apart from getting some really nice clothes from Donenfeld's -- the kind that are stylish for more than a season.

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Perry401
75 posts
Oct 18, 2011
7:37 PM
I think the Met went out of business around 1980. The Metropolitan was a downtown landmark for many years, directly across from Rike's on Main Street. They were one of the first stores to "branch" out into the suburbs when they became one of the original anchor stores at Town and Country, along with Penny's and Alber's grocery. They did retain a presence in downtown until sometime in the late 1970's when they closed. The Town and Country store was dead-center in the complex and used to have a road on each side. This store closed around 1980 and Town and Country closed the roads off and added smaller stores where the roads had been. The central part of Town and Country is built inside to old Met building. Later the Met opened right in the middle of the Salem Mall, but this store was closed and remodeled when the mall was expanded to make the food court. They also had an outlet at the Dayton Mall, which is also now closed. The downtown store was given a "facelift" and is now where the "Loft Theater" and the "Uno Chicago Grill" restaurant are located. Reusing most of the building and only de-modernizing the facade saved a lot of money when the Victory Theater was remodeled -- also around 1980.
Suellen813Hd
5 posts
May 14, 2012
1:56 PM
I remember Donenfield's now that someone mentioned it. At Rike's my brother bought a painting for $140 when I was 14 and I thought he was so rich! When I was 18 JC Penney gave me a charge card and I did not even have a job. I did not understand the concept and that I had to pay for what I bought with the card. I went Christmas shopping.
Happy to Be
4 posts
May 14, 2012
6:30 PM
Bought my first designer jeans (Calvin Klein) at Elder Beermans 2nd floor junior department. I was so so so excited when I finally got them. Think I bought Gloria Vanderbelt perfume called Tatiana at Rikes downtown.

Shopping was fun downtown in the mid 70's. I was just a teen ager but I remember putting a lot of thought into my "designer" purchases. Loved going from Beermans to Rikes and back again.
CalGirl
12 posts
May 15, 2012
2:44 PM
I miss the days when I could hop on the #7 bus on N. Main St. and get off downtown and go from store to store in just a few blocks area. When I was little my Mom and I would go downtown on the bus and hit Rike's, Elder-Beerman's, Donenfeld's, the Met, Thal's, and the dime stores, all in an afternoon and still be home in time for my Mom to make supper.

In high school, we Julienne girls would roll our waistbands up to acceptable mid-60's length, get on the bus and head downtown for maybe a cherry coke at Rike's cafeteria or to look over the latest records at Rike's or Elder-Beerman's record department.

Somebody mentioned Downtown Dayton Day - wow, my Mom would be like a racehorse straining to get out of the gate and go after those bargains! (lol) She always went by herself cause she didn't want anybody slowing her down! (lol again)

And my Dad always bought his suits at the Metropolitan and always looked so great dressed up.

Being a shoe nut, I have to mention the downtown ones on Main St. There was Baynahm's on the corner, where I would stand in front of the window lusting after the Papagallo's that I couldn't afford, and Baker's, which was more in my price range, Thom McAn, and one or two others whose names I can't remember.

I was never in Billy Lewis, waaay to rich for my blood!
mpup
11 posts
May 17, 2012
9:31 AM
I remember a few from years gone by. Roth Office Supply, Hauer Music, Mayors Records, Flagg Bros, Hardys, Bernies Music, there was a Hot Dog shop just up from Rikes on Main past Monument. We used to ride the Ohio Bus Line bus from Miamisburg to downtown Dayton for 50 cents and get off at 3rd and Main at the courthouse. It was a big deal to get a Butterburger at one of the White Tower restuarants. Great memories from being 14 - 15 years old.
luv my dayton
5 posts
May 25, 2012
7:24 AM
There was a Metropolitan for years at Town and Country.How about Donenfeld, Thals,Lerners, Fanny Farmer candy, and Baker shoes. It was wonderful to be a kid and jump on the bus to go downtown on a saturday to the ywca for swimming and dancing classes then to window shop. So many people and the and hustle and bustle was very exciting. There was a blind lady at the entrance of the arcade with her dog and another man with a flower stand on at Rikes.Used to head for the mezzanine at Rikes and get their chicken salad. Remember when they sold candy and maybe baked goods? Every woman for years had at one time had a job working at Rikes.Dayton also had several beauty schools. I went to the one called Charles of Stephan and it was located above the Lowes theatre next to Rikes.Haven't shopped at a mall in years as they don't have the same appeal.

Last Edited by on May 25, 2012 7:25 AM
tlturbo
322 posts
May 25, 2012
4:36 PM
Hey CalGirl - I have been trying to locate someone and it was suggested she might have been a Julienne Girl. She lived on N Main tight next to the Tropics and I understand there was a Julienne bus stop there. Probably graduated High School about 67-68. Her name was Terry (Terri) Bray. Ring a bell?
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DaytonDennis
32 posts
May 27, 2012
5:58 AM
Butterburger at White Tower.. Yummy!! They are all gone now. I think I ate in about 5 of their restraunts, and some buildings still exist with different venues. No more White Tower though.
CalGirl
15 posts
May 29, 2012
2:15 PM
No, sorry, I don't remember anyone by that name. I graduated in 65 so she would have been 2 or 3 years behind me. btw - Julienne didn't have any buses or anything like that. We either walked, took the city bus, or if you were lucky, carpooled.
Mikey
153 posts
May 30, 2012
7:49 AM
Mid-century (1960) when you were just beginning life as a adult and had no credit whatsoever, Rike's would issue a "charge-a-plate" to young adults. That was how most of us started our credit-based life in those days. That really built a loyal customer base. What company would do that these days? You would ride a succession of ever-narrower escalators to the eighth floor business office, sign on the dotted line. Almost always, your first real credit account was granted. Of course, there was no revolving credit for unsecured loans in those days. That was for a car or house, through a bank.
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Mikey, Gatlinburg, TN

Last Edited by on May 30, 2012 7:52 AM
blue J
3 posts
Jun 08, 2012
2:49 AM
My mother was the personality in all of the Elder Beerman TV ads from the mid '70s to early '80s or so. I remember my sister and me going with her when she went clothes shopping- at Beerman, and of course Rike's, and the Met. I don't have a very detailed memory of everything downtown at that time, because of how young I was. But good memories, all the same.
blue J
4 posts
Jun 09, 2012
1:09 PM
She may have volunteered there at the library, but certainly not full time. But yes, my sister and I both went to Southdale, from 1975 to '85.
delirious1
21 posts
Jun 09, 2012
2:27 PM
blue J
I remember your mother very well.
She was so beautiful. I was a very timid girl in those days and she always made me feel special when she would engage me in conversation.
Everyone knew who she was. She was so recognisable.
I hope she is doing well.
Calhoun
35 posts
Jun 09, 2012
5:58 PM
Don't think anyone mentioned Wilkies. Far and away the best bookstore in Dayton in the day, the first time I went there (mid/late 60s) I was amazed there were that many magazines even published. In addition to the downtown store, there were at least three others in/around Dayton. I think the last one to close was the Beavercreek store across from WSU, either in the late 80s or early 90s. It's now a "First Watch".
blue J
7 posts
Jun 10, 2012
10:10 AM
delirious1- thanks for the kind words, and I'm glad it's a nice memory for you...she's still alive and well, but doesn't spend a lot of time in Ohio anymore. She and my stepfather still own the house that we moved into when I was in fourth grade, December of '82. But they spend most of their time traveling now.

Calhoun- Wilkie's was great, to be sure. But I thought the downtown location was still open until close to the end of the '90s, maybe '98 or so? I don't know, I could be wrong. But I thought I remembered seeing a story on it on the local news on WDTN, when it was closing, and I thought it was around that time.
Calhoun
36 posts
Jun 10, 2012
12:42 PM
blue J-

You might be right, to be honest once they opened the store here in Beavercreek, I don't know that I ever went back to the original downtown store. I thought it was the first to go, but maybe you are correct.
Ol'Roy
25 posts
Jun 11, 2012
4:55 AM
Wilkie's closed its downtown location in June, 2003 when the building was sold to the Dayton Public Schools. I was working downtown at the time and was sorry to see them go.
FAITH
71 posts
Jun 11, 2012
7:49 AM
Did Wilkies carry newspapers from other metropolitan areas? Seem to remember Dad getting papers from there when I was relocating to Texas.
KennyE11
77 posts
Jun 11, 2012
8:30 PM
FAITH - Yes, Wilkies carried out of town newspapers. At the Downtown store, they were along the side of the store that ran parallel to 4th Street.

I used to go to the Salem Avenue Wilkies, but I don't remember what year it closed. It was many years before the Downtown store closed.
Sharon35
3 posts
Aug 31, 2012
8:21 AM
Just a few of the stores and restaurants I remember in the 1950's and earlier in Dayton:

Chung Sons (downtown Dayton)

King Cole

Goody Goody (On Salem Ave)

The Purple Cow

Yum Yum

Annarinos

Tropics

Colony Club

Suttmillers (gardner Benedict)

Brown Derby (Howard Malcom DJ) Moonlight Serenade Theme Song

Gallagher's

Parkmoor

Hasty Tasty

Rike's Coin Room and The Mezzanine

Westward Ho

Miami Hotel

Biltmore Hotel

Kresges's

Key Hole

Angies Restaurant

Sacksteder's

White Tower

Rike's

Beerman's

Billy Lewis

Zapoleon's

Bourne's

Donenfelds

The Metropolitan

Rike Kumler Company

Kresge's Department Store

RKO Keith's Theater

Paramount Theater

Sherwood Twin Drive In

Old Dayton View

Belmont Auto

Skyline Drive In

Melody Drive In

Miamisburg Drive In

Skyborn Drive In

Dixie Cruise In

Belmont Auto Theater

Dabel Theater

Lowe's Theater

Mayfair

Victoria

Rialto

Majestic

Cinema East

Davue Theater

McCook Theater

Salem Theater

Todd Art Theater

Captain Kidd Drive In

Far Hills Theater

Todd Burlesque

Bolshers

Allen's Drug Store


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