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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bry's Department Store's 1927 "Sporting Goods"

Posted By on Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 10:49 AM

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Ask longtime Memphians about downtown department stores, and the first ones that usually come to mind are Goldsmith's, Lowenstein's, and Gerber's. But my personal favorite was Bry's, just because of the sheer volume of merchandise they offered. I've mentioned before that, according to historian Paul Coppock, the store at one time sold airplanes, for pete's sake. I'm not sure if you carried those to the cash register, or if they delivered them to your home.

But I recently turned up a 1927 newspaper advertisement for the store's sporting goods department, and just look at the amazing selection. If you have trouble reading the ad, let me just mention a few of the items for sale, and their 1927 prices:

Spalding golf clubs (irons) — $3.50
Spalding golf clubs (woods) — $5.00
Narragansett Livewood tennis racquets — $2.95
Louisville Slugger baseball bats — $1.85
League baseballs — $1.25
Shakespeare automatic fly reel — $4.50
... and lots more

Golf bags came in "all sizes" with the prices starting at just a dollar and stretching all the way to $45, which was a stupendous amount of money to spend on a golf bag in the 1920s. For you, I mean, not for me.

Note that they also sold a baseball glove called the "Dazzy Vance" (a fine name indeed) for the rather steep price of $8.50. Nothing with the Lauderdale name on it ever came cheap, I assure you.

The entire bottom half of the page is devoted to a line of automobile tires — a product not normally found in a sporting goods department, but hey this was Bry's. The brand was called Defiance, and the ad noted that it was a "a challenge" as to "quality, mileage, traction, economy, safety, and price." Now, at first this wording didn't make sense to me, since it seemed to be saying the tire did NOT offer these things. But read further, and you'll see that Bry's is saying, "We challenge comparison between the super Defiance tire and any other type, brand, or description of tire manufactured in America."

Whew, that's quite a challenge. Of course, they don't say what they'll do if their tire fails to meet that challenge (and how do you challenge another tire's "description," anyway?), though they do promise it should last 25,000 miles, which was a pretty good guarantee, I think, for a 1927 tire.

It's odd, though, that they don't mention the price of these "super" tires.

Now, if anybody turns up a "Dazzy Vance" baseball glove in their attics, or on eBay, please let me know. I'll be glad to autograph it for you.

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