Dear Answer Man: I know it's been a long time, but I'm still sad about the loss of Dayton's department stores. The Apache Mall store was my favorite shopping destination. While reminiscing about this with a friend over coffee recently, she told me that Dayton's used to have a downtown Rochester store. Where was that located? — A dedicated Dayton's shopper
Dear shopper: I can assure you that we in the Answer Man household share your disappointment over the demise of Dayton's.
Newcomers might not know that Dayton's was a Twin Cities shopping institution for decades before the company expanded to Rochester in 1954. The former Dayton's downtown Rochester store still stands at the corner of Broadway and Second Street Southwest, and is now Mayo Clinic's Rosa Parks Pavilion
I remember going Christmas shopping at the downtown Dayton's as a kid under the watchful eye of Big Sis, who made sure I spent my allowance on gifts for others. But, boy, how I dreamed about that genuine all-leather baseball glove in the sporting goods department. Santa must have been reading my mind — or else Big Sis whispered in his ear — because that glove showed up under the Christmas tree one year.
Sporting goods, as I recall, were on the lower level of the store, along with the toy department. Talk about heaven!
The files here at Answer Man World HQ inform me that the store, which opened in March 1954, had eight levels, covered 94,000 square feet, and was built at a cost of $2.5 million. The ground floor had brass chandeliers hanging from a 23-foot-high ceiling.
When Apache Mall opened in 1969, Dayton's was caught in a tug of war. Some local officials wanted the store to expand in its downtown location. The future of retail, though, was in suburban malls. Donaldson's, a Dayton's competitor, was already located at Miracle Mile in the city's west side.
Finally, in August 1970, Dayton's announced it would move to the mall. The 157,000-square-foot Dayton's store at Apache Mall opened in August 1972.
You might recall that Dayton's became Marshall Fields in 2001, and Marshall Fields in turn became Macy's in 2006.
By the way, I still haul out that genuine all-leather baseball glove once a year for the Answer Man family reunion softball game.