Shopping on the Avenue…. I don’t mean Fifth, I mean Bergenline!

10 Mar

When I grew up in New Jersey, the place to shop was Bergenline Avenue.  It was filled with shops of all types.  There was an advantage to shopping in Jersey then crossing the River (Hudson) to shop in the City (New York).  First of all, we paid no tax on clothing in Jersey, while they did in New York.  (We could have our purchases shipped home, which saved us the cost of these taxes, but then we had to wait.)  Second it was so convenient and there were so many shops!

We could go to find lingerie at Sylvette’s; boy’s and men’s clothes Al’s Army/Navy; a bit of everything at Schlesinger’s; shoes at National Family; women’s fancy clothing at Corduroy Village.  And of course, there were many places to get something to eat.

For me there was one more advantage.  My Mom knew everyone.  She had grown up in West New York, the daughter of a store owner.  And she was an elementary school teacher in the West New York schools.  So if people did know her for one reason, they knew her for the other.

My Mom’s favorite place to shop for us was Little Marcy’s.  She knew the owners well.  That is true.  But what is also true is that they had everything you could want.  It was conveniently located right on the Avenue with a bus stop right there, and we always could find parking..

The store was really several stores linked together over time.  It started on a corner and moved to the middle of the block.   When you first walked in there was the infant clothes, then you walked to your left and entered an area with toddler’s clothing; walk through another opening and children’s clothes.  Up to this point there was clothing for both girls and boys.  But once you entered the teen clothes, the emphasis changed to girls only.  There were, I think, two small dressig rooms on this floor.  Young girls do not like to change in front of others.

I loved shopping there.  And I loved it even more once I turned about 16. That is when my mom took me to the staircase in the back of the infant clothing and we walked up to the adult women’s clothing for the first time. Oh my….a world of bargains of all bargains of designer clothes.

Upstairs were two rooms of women’s clothing with the labels removed.  This is where designer clothing that were overstocks and now highly discounted were located.  In the second room was a dressing room along a back wall. It was a common room where everyone changed together.

My Mom, sister and I loved going there.  We got back to school clothes, clothing for special events.  (Although I will admit a few excursions to Corduroy Village for special events. The dress I wore to my brother’s bar mitzvah came from Corduroy Village.)

We loved to browse through the racks upon racks of clothing, searching for the just the right item.  Then bringing them back to the dressing room area.  My sister, mother and I would carry so many hangers filled with clothing.  Mom usually did not try on that much.  She got her enjoyment helping my sister and I.  But every once in a while, we could talk her in to trying something on.  Especially if we were the only three in the dressing room!

Image My wedding day. My sister wearing her most wonderful dress from Little Marcy’s.

But the most important purchase of all occur in the winter of 1980.  We were in crisis mode.  I was getting married in March.  And my sister did not yet have a dress. My Mom, sister and I had gone everywhere looking for a dress for my sister to wear as the maid of honor for my wedding. We had looked in every store. And frustration and fear was rising.  Would we find something before the wedding?  Could we, would we find anything  for her to wear that went with my dress?

In our last ditch effort,  we went to the upstairs room at Little Marcy’s.  We went to the second room, where prom dresses and long dresses hung along the walls in color and size order.  And there….in her size…. a dress.  The perfect dress!  Waiting just for us!  You cannot imagine our joy and astonishment.

She tried it on.  Oh my,  it fit perfectly!  No alteration needed.  And the sleeves of the dress echoed the sleeves of my dress!  Wow!

And most amazing of all, it only cost $28.

We could not believe our luck!

Later this month, I will celebrate 34 years of marriage.  Whenever I look at the photos of my wedding.  I see my sister in this glorious dress standing next to me, and I remember the happy days shopping at Little Marcy’s and the fun on the Avenue!

8 Responses to “Shopping on the Avenue…. I don’t mean Fifth, I mean Bergenline!”

  1. Sherry rothberg March 10, 2016 at 8:49 am #

    Hi. Shopping on the Bergenline!! I loved shopping there.

    • zicharon March 10, 2016 at 8:50 am #

      Was the best.

      • Anne Craig July 22, 2021 at 12:54 pm #

        OMG this post made me smile! My mom worked in Marcy’s from the summer before I entered high school until a few years after I was in college. She enjoyed that job and her co-workers and all the customers SO much. And I sure did not mind getting lots of cool clothes with her employee discount haha. Your wedding photo with your mom is lovely!

      • zicharon July 22, 2021 at 5:50 pm #

        Thank you. We loved going there. My mom taught in West New York and grew up there so she knew so many people. Going there with her was an adventure!! Glad I gave you happy memories!

  2. Barbara Merante August 13, 2022 at 9:50 am #

    Great to read your story and reminisce. I shopped at all the stores you mentioned but especially Corduroy Village which was a few blocks from where I lived in North Bergen. Bergenline avenue was the place to shop ie Schlesinger, lobell’s etc.

    • zicharon August 13, 2022 at 10:20 am #

      So glad you enjoyed it. I am actually seeing the daughter of the owners of Corduroy Village today. I will read her your comment. Take care.

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