Share Your Memories of Filene's Basement
The contest has ended but enjoy the memories shared below.
D Conti writes:
my very first job!! 1967.....I was 17.....worked in the childrens dept and sold "danskins" also sold "falls" remember those partial wigs a lot of women wore then ??? automatic markdowns what a fantastic concept!!!(yes we always hid stuff) worked with some wonderful older jewish women who taught me some yiddish i still use to this day..i remember those old wooden floors and my red salvatore ferragamo platforms for 5
$ half clothed women running around and the pervs who used to show up like clockwork on those sale days!! it was a real new england icon and too bad its gone....
In 1980, I started college at Suffolk Univerisity...Back then, Suffolk was a commuter school, so I took the train from Providence. After meeting fellow students, everyone would talk about the Basement. Before long I was shopping there every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. After a few months of school and many shopping bags later, my Mother on a Wedsnesday evening said if you get off that train with a Filene's Basement bag, I will leave you at the Train Station! Well Friday came and the Basement called! I got off the Providene Amtrak train got to the top of the ramp to watch my mother wave and drive away!!! I still have handbags from the Basement just can't part with them! Went to many of the Basement stores when they branched out, but nothing was like Downtown Crossing!! Miss the store very much!!
When I was young I bought all my clothes in Filenes basement not just because they cost less but because they were one of a kind and of super value. I got married & had 4 kids under 5 Yrs old .On doller day I would take them with me and tell them sit on these stairs and don't move & I would get their school clothes.They are all married with thier own children but sill talk about going to Filenes basement on $ day.
My grandmother introduce me to Filenes Basement when I was 5 or 6 years old. I am now 58 years old.
We lived in Providence,RI. My grandmother took us regularly to Filene's Basement while we were growing up until I went to Boston College.This is one of fondest memories growing up. We spent hours endlessly searching for bargains and never tire.
When I attended Boston College I continued to go to Filene's Basement regularly.
After I graduated from Boston College in 1975 I moved back to Providence. I found Filene's Basement storefronts in RI and South Attleboro. After many years many store fronts began to close but I got tons of bargains before final closing.
My siblings and I all worked in the basement from 1967 to 1987. The people I met and experiences I had there are some of my best memories. I had a girl insist I ring up her shoes (because she was afraid they wouldn't be there) as the BP and BF evacuated for a bomb in 1981, broke my leg on the stairs on 4B getting stock in 1982 and bought my wedding dress off the rack on 3B before they went to the selling floor in 1986!! Tom Leahey, Ruth Katz, PJ Beaulac etc.. all bosses who taught me how to enjoy hard work!!! I hope my children are as lucky as I was.
I was dragged into Filene's basement once and that was enough. More than enough. When you're eight you don't have much say in where you're going to be dragged. The store was mobbed, hot, filthy and women were taking off their clothes all around me. I couldn't understand why everywhere else in the world I wasn't supposed to see women in their underwear but in this steaming fetid basement they couldn't care at all about my presence. I thought I was in a tryout room for strippers. What I couldn't understand was why they didn't take off ALL their clothes if they were going to be strippers.
I've never been back.
During the late fifties and early sixties, I would go in with my Dad on a Saturday when he had to work(he was a watch repairer in the Jeweler's Building). With my $10 in hand (a lot of money back then), I would head down to the Basement with great expectations. I remember 3 things: the diamond shaped signs over each table informing you of the day's bargains; the endless bins of shoes (each pair tied together), making it a challenge to try them on; and the mezzanine level where you could purchase nylons (not pantyhose). It was such an elegant experience as the saleswomen would open each the box, gently separate the tissue paper and with her hand, carefully put one of the nylons on to show you the color. I can still hear the rustling of the paper as she performed this delicate balance of presentation and sales. The closing of the Basement represented not just another retail establishment lost to economic misfortunes, but the passing of an institution never to be experienced again. Thankfully, our memories will remain with us forever.
The Hot Dog Counter (Circa early 1980's)!!! It was the cheapest and fastest lunch to be had in Downtown Crossing. I think the counter staff even wore uniforms. The menu was very limited and one stood at the orange formica counter to dine on a hot dog and Pepsi!
After ploughing through the crowds, it was a bit of an oasis in the beige chaos of bargain shoppers.
Day Ann writes:
Shopping in Filene's Basement was my mother's main hobby in the 1960's. She did not drive an would take the T "downtown" a couple of times a week sometimes in the evening or while we were at school. She loved fashion.I remember as a 9 year old having dresses with lables such as Christian Dior, Saks Fifth Avenue (although I was not too crazy about dresses at the time!). In 1980, the day after I told her of my engagement, she called me at my office. She was in Filene's basement and had picked out two wedding gowns. I met her during my lunch hour. She had found a beautiful summer gown for $35. No need to look any further!
J Cefola writes:
My first memory of the basement is a smell, not necessarily a bad smell, but a combination of fiber, people and basement. Plus sometimes the T too. It was 1978, I was 8, and we went to the basement because grandparents were visiting from NY and they wanted bargains. While they scanned the racks, my job was to wander nearby and pick out the marginalized clothes, the ones shoved deep into the rack or in the wrong size or section. I was only supposed to pick up things with the right date - 75% off. Anything less was not considered a "real" bargain. In addition to finding an olive green leather jacket for my Mom, I saw a topless woman for the first time. She was throwing on a sweater in front of a mirror in the middle of the store. Decades later I worked in the neighborhood and again shopped at the basement. It was cleaner and they had a changing room. Many bargains were had. I miss it.
When I was 7 yrs old in 1972, my mother brought me and my sisters shopping the first time at filenes basement,located on South Main Street Fall River Massachusetts. I remember walking into Cherri and Web and down escalators to get to the basement. At 7 yrs old everything was so big, I remember there were tables and tables of clothing, and racks of coats, and shoes. I never seen so many wonderful things, I wanted it all. There was so much stuff to buy, but at my age I had only a limited amount of things to choose from. That store closed and I have not heard of Filene's basement again after that. until just recently here and there I would hear the name Filene's Basement and every time I would think of the first time I experienced that beautiful store. Now that I am 45 years old the memories of that sore is still fresh in my mind, and would love to visit that store again. At least now, I would be able to buy the big girl clothes. Thanks for reminding me about Filene's Basement. I will now find the nearest store near me, and enjoy memory ,lane. Thank You JoAnne
I remember going in to the city with my mother and grandmother (who lived in East Boston at the time) to pick out my first communion dress (this was in the mid 80's) My grandmother kept pronouncing it Fill-enes and I thought that was so funny at the time. I was horrified at the open dressing rooms and didn't want to try on any dresses at first. The store was overflowing with people and I remember being both exhilrated and a little frightend by all the activity. The day was a success, we found (what my 7 year old self thought was) the perfect first communion dress!
I sometimes think my lunchtime wanderings through Filene's Basement were somehow the fulfillment of my hunter-gatherer needs. But it was also a time for me to get away from the office and let my subconscious tackle some of my work issues and challenges. Sure, I came up with bargains, but more often I came up with new and better ways getting my job done.