Monday, December 29, 2014

Wilson's, Greenfield, Mass.: One of the Last Family-Run Department Stores in the U.S.

Walking into Wilson's Department Store in Greenfield, Mass., reminds us of a simpler, more community-oriented time where we knew businesses owners by name and when the chance to shop and buy local was the only way we knew how to shop.

One of the last family-owned and operated department stores in the United States, Wilson's features 20 departments on four floors, which can be accessed by long-narrow staircases and an older-style elevator.  Completely different than a 21st superstore, the scene looks like a retail version of a townie coffee shop with customers and staff conversing about life in Greenfield and families, little old ladies with blue hair, college students, and all walks of life, for that matter, finding everything they need under one ancient roof. You see, Wilson's has been in business since the 1880s and, to so many, is truly a national treasure!

It's hard to believe a department store like this still exists in an often impersonal, generic day of age, but we're sure glad it does! Each department has excellent, updated selections with many name brands and, often, sales racks. Departments include women's accessories, women's sportswear, women's coats, dresses, intimate apparel, juniors, alternative sportswear for women, men's, young men's, children's, shoes, cosmetics, jewelry, luggage, domestics, housewares, toys, stationery and candy.  Wilson's is especially popular when Santa arrives for the Christmas season and the Easter Bunny for Easter.

What feels best about Wilson's is that you don't feel lost here like it can in big box stores or shopping malls. The friendly, non-pushy helpful employees and the nostalgic feel within a well laid-out, organized setting creates a wonderful ambiance that suggests that the retail world got it right the first time.

Wilson's is part of an unusual but heartwarming small town downtown that features an increasing number of locally-owned and operated businesses including an indie movie theater, food coop, bakery, and book, furniture and music stores.  I encourage you to read my article on downtown Greenfield to get a true feel for this very nice western Massachusetts small city.

Like it states in that article, though, start at Wilson's!

Wilson's Department Store is located at 258 Main St., Greenfield MA. Tel. (413) 774-4326

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