When the mistletoe’s hung and the smell of silver spray paint floats through the air, that’s when I miss Gayfers Department Store the most.
I could stop right here and not bother to say another word because most of you just fell off your chairs with screams of, “Me too!” Just mentioning Gayfers launches most folks around here into sharing their fond memories of the popular department store, founded in Mobile, Alabama in 1879.
At its peak, there were 18 Gayfers sprinkled throughout Dixie. The popular Teen Board, or “Gayfers Girls” as they were known, gave fashion advice to the store’s buyers and held fashion shows in the stores. It was a very big deal to be a Gayfers Girl, and although my friends and I all auditioned, only one of us was accepted, and it wasn’t me. I was far too awkward and gangly for the program, but it didn’t make me love Gayfers any less.
As a little girl, the Christmas classic, “Miracle on 34th Street” gave me a glimpse inside the world-famous Macy’s, but this king of all department stores in New York City had nothing on our Gayfers during the holiday season.
Gayfers blew the lid off Christmas with giant wreaths hung high over the front doors and a multitude of twinkling trees that made me feel like I was in the most lavish of all stores straight out of a holiday movie. Southern shoppers could at least pretend it was cold outside while we watched tiny trains chug through the fake snow and miniature couples ice skating on lakes made of mirrored glass atop the jewelry counter. Enormous jack-in-the-box toys were stacked high in the children’s section and swags of bows and greenery hung over the escalators.
Everyone was happy in Gayfers. Seasonal music played over the loudspeakers and holiday stress melted away with the help of the cheerful sales team who seemed to love their jobs. Year-round, from the Midnight Madness to the Bell Ringer sales, customers were loyal to the place where they could find (what we considered) big-city fashions.
Sung to the tune of “fa-la-la-la-la”, the voice on their Christmas commercial would sing, “Give with pride a gift from Ga-ay-fers,” and we would be reminded that Gayfers merchandise was indeed something to treasure.
My Mother would take me to Gayfers every year for the Back to School Sale where we’d search for the perfect Bobbie Brooks outfits and Buster Brown shoes. Sometimes, I was allowed to hold my brother’s hand and ride the escalator to the housewares department where we curiously explored the latest mixers, quilts and dishes. During those years, if a young lady became engaged, you could find her within 24 hours, sitting with the manager of the Gayfers china department, gazing at her sparkly ring and registering her china and silver choices which she first decided on when she was 14 years old. You simply couldn’t get married around here without Gayfers.
Sadly, we all know the end of the Gayfers story. Our local favorite closed their doors in 1998, and since then, we’ve seen several so-so stores come and go. When I enter a department store now, I’m more likely to find bland merchandise squeezed onto racks, with much of it having fallen to the floor. I can’t ever seem to find a “Customer Sales-Relation-Associate” to help with my purchases, and more often than not, the flimsy clothing doesn’t last more than one season. By contrast, I still own and wear a wool shoulder wrap I bought from Gayfers just before they closed. Outdated? Maybe. Quality and good memories? Yes and yes.
So this year, while I’m wading through the hum-drum stores checking items off my shopping list and listening to the same 10 Christmas songs played over and over again, the wish that I’ll whisper to Santa is for Gayfers to magically return again. If only in our Christmastime memories.
This story first appeared in Gulf Coast Newspapers by Leslie Anne Tarabella
Hi Little Bitty Pretty One! They didn’t select you to be a Gayfers girl? They really messed up! Sounds like it was a wonderful store. Stores don’t have the personal touch or care for their customers like they did a few years ago. That’s such a shame. Thank you for popping in to see me and you were here we’d go out and sit in my sunroom and we’d chat, and chat, and chat! 🙂
Be a sweetie,
We’d have a ball talking it up! And looking back, Gayfers probably made the right decision to pass on my application for the Gayfers Teen Board! Hahaha!
I was both a Gayfer Guy and later the only male floater on the sales floor of the Mobile store. I am still friends with many of those people and for a time after would see them working Christmas at other stores. We always stop and hug because we regard that time as special. Loved the post, it was sent to me as I no longer live in Mobile.
Thanks for yet another wonderful snippet of Gayfers life!
Honey u took me down memory lane…THEY SHOULD MAKE U A HONORARY GAYFER GIRL…
Aren’t you the sweetest! I was much too awkward at that age to be a Gayfer Girl, but I loved the store anyway!
What a wonderful memory. I remember that it amazed me that we all “dressed out of Gayfers” but no one had the same look, they had such a variety. Loved this post
That’s true, I never ran into anyone with my outfits at church, but we all knew we shopped at Gayfers!
Although I never visited the Gayfer’s in Mobile, we had similar department stores in downtown Birmingham back in the day– Pizitz and Loveman’s to name a couple. I loved everything about shopping at these stores during Christmas, too. Things just changed when the stores all moved into the malls…there was something actually enjoyable about driving around block after block looking for an empty parking spot/meter. And the lights strung across the streets. It was all magical. And, oh my goodness, I could hardly wait to get the newspaper on Christmas Day with the ads for the day after sales. We went right back down there for those sales. And I remember the tables of sweaters all just thrown in a pile the day after. Well, this just took me back a few decades!
Oh, as a side note, I now own an antique oak and glass display cabinet that came from Gayfer’s in Mobile. Your pretty little eyes probably looked into this very cabinet at accessories that were on display inside it. It’s about eight or nine feet long and sits behind my sofa full of family memories.
Merry Christmas, my friend!
What a cool treasure to have from Gayfers. I remember them selling off everything during their closing. My Mother has mentioned Pizitz in Birmingham. I’m sure she shopped there when she was a student at Samford.
I have had the pleasure of shopping at bot, back years ago. I was a Mobile girl for thirty-three years before moving to the Birmingham area. Gayfers was my hometown favorite and I still can picture the wrapping dept. where the girls there did a marvelous job with wrapping our special gifts all year long, and then Pizitz’s was my new best store once we moved, but I never Forgot Gayfers and would shop there when I visited relatives back home until it closed! . I was sad when Pizitz closed their Roebuck store which later was called McRaes. Just hate to see our favorites leave! Shopping hasn’t been the same!
You are so right! And how long did we call McRae’s “Gayfer’s” just out of habit? Too long.
I loved the Gayfer’s at Town and Country plaza in Pensacola~ We still have a few Gayfer’s gift boxes that float around at Christmas, mostly holding Christmas ornaments 🙂
While we’re on the subject, I miss McCrae’s too!
I forgot about McCraes! Town and Country plaza was my favorite too!
I worked at Gayfer’s at Cordova Mall for eight years and McRae’s for four years! Lots of happy memories…….
I literally just ran across my Gayfer’s credit card this morning! Lotsa happy association memories! Started working there when moved to Pensacola in 1972, attended PJC & walked to the store. Began in Fabrics w/Doug Reynolds, then Jrs w/Barbara Bonds Watson, then Bridals when Paul K…? (handsome Yankee) was the manager. I worked & did my last wedding in March 1978 & had twins in April. When they were one, I went back & worked in the office till moved to Texas in Dec 1980! I had my only ever wreck on Bayou Blvd when leaving Gayfer’s! lol I was very SAD to learn when Gayfer’s dissolved! 🙁 Dillard’s was/is a shadow to the class that was Gayfer’s!!!
I love that you still have your Gayfer’s card. I’d put it in the china cabinet with all the other pretty treasures. Thanks for the note!
My mother worked for Gayfers a long time.. I think she might have worked with you. Evelyn C. Was her name. I also remember GAYFERS it was the best store ever. My mom always bought my twins clothes there all the time. I miss that store. No other store could compare
I have tried to tell my grown daughters of the great department stores that were in their hay day during the sixties and seventies across the south. Many were built and grown over decades by Jewish merchants who took great pride in customer service and quality merchandise. Broughton Street of Savannah gave us the wonderful Fine’s and Levy’s. Downtown Jacksonville,Florida boomed with May Cohen’s, Purcell’s and Furchgott’s ( spelling????). I still miss Parisian every time I am in Birmingham. These stores at Christmas were like stepping into a wonderland! Those were the days. Now we must settle for poor quality from the other side of the globe.
Good service means so much.
Customers have done this to themselves by shopping online. They are not supporting brick and mortar stores. When brick and mortar sales dropped the stores had to minimize their amount of employees to be able to pay their rent/mortgage. Again, customers have done this to themselves.
Well, Gayfers closed before the big push of on-line shopping, so I don’t know if that applies to them, but these days, you are right. I order some things on-line, but who in the world can buy pants and shoes without trying them on? They make women’s sizes run tiny to huge and they are all marked with the same size! I love browsing through the stores and seeing things for myself. Thanks for the reminder to shop locally!
All the Gayfer’s are gone? Did not know that! I used to take Ray’s Grandma into the one in the mall in Biloxi all the time. It was her favorite place to shop. So true that today’s dept stores (at least outside NYC) are a sad imitation of days gone by. But then, so are many other things.
You are so right. Pride in owning a store may still be there, but finding employees who take pride in their jobs is difficult. It’s not what it used to be.
I auditioned to be a Jordan Marsh girl…too many zits, I’m sure. I loved the department stores at Christmas…always a miracle at Christmas…nice post.
I still shop at Gayfers!! That’s what I find myself calling Dillards and Belk if I don’t watch it!! Loved this!! Thanks!!
Very good call. Love your attitude!
My mom was a personal wardrobe consultant at Gayfers and it was a free service. I remember she would even deliver clothes to the clients home. I believe the employees still have reunions to get together.
Gayfers reunions? How wonderful!!! I’m so glad you told me this! Tell them we all said hello and we miss you!
Oh my goodness, my daughter and some friends were just talking about how we miss Gayfers! Loved shopping there,you could always find something special! I remember the photos of the Gayfers girls,loving going to gift wrapping and leaving with your purchases wrapped so pretty.Most especially I miss the smell of the bakery when you opened the back door entrance,it smelled like heaven,bought alot of birthday cakes from there.I went shopping yesterday, couldn’t find anything exciting or different, seems like every store had the same thing. I’m glad to know other people miss it too!!!
How funny! Gayfers is never far from out thoughts!
Gayfers in Opelika! My fav store. I’m with you.
I didn’t realize there was a Gayfers in Opelika. Great location!
I worked as a “Floater” in Gayfers in Montgomery Mall in 1978-79. I worked in every department in the store except furniture. I still own a bed that I bought with my employee discount. The only department I worked in that I hated was gift wrap during the holidays. Oh my! That was not my talent. After a couple of customers complained loudly, they realized that and never sent me back! lol
Oh dear! Every has their gift! I guess that’s why they invented the gift bag!
Thanks for reading!
I still miss Gayfer’s every time I go to Edgewater Mall. It was my all-time favorite department store. There has never been a store like it and never will. My daughter was a Gayfer’s Girl, and I remember when we first moved here, our realtor told me that I must get a Gayfer’s card. Gayfer’s had everything! Furniture (still have several pieces in our living room), fudge (couldn’t pass by that heavenly smell without getting some), the best ever wonderful sales, and a wonderful selection of clothing and shoes.
So many people are mentioning the bakery. I can’t remember that part, and I’m wondering if Town and Country Plaza in Pensacola had a bakery? Maybe my Mother knew to take me in another entrance!
I think later on at the Cordova Mall store there was a little cafe upstairs. Or am I just confused?
Leslie Anne, you may be thinking of the Norma’s that was in Dillard’s at Cordova mall. Oh my goodness they were always busy at lunch and their chicken salad was tasty!
For several years the old Gayfer’s became Ladies Dillard’s and the existing Dillard’s became men, kids and housewares. I really liked that set up because the housewares section took up a good portion of the top floor.
I believe that Norma’s is now located at Duh on 9th Ave.
When Gayfer’s finally became Dillards, I was already living in Fairhope and didn’t go over to Pensacola much. Funny to say that now, because just yesterday, I took my son with me to visit in Pensacola and do some shopping over at that very Dillard’s. I was telling him how it used to be Gayfers. But when Norma’s would have been there, I didn’t get over there much. I know where Duh is, so I’ll have to pop in there sometime!
Thanks for the good info!
I worked in Shipping and Receiving at the Jubilee Gayfer’s in Daphne from ‘84 to’90. That store also had a little cafe in it. It was called Deli Depot.
When I moved to Fairhope in ’99, that became my “home” Gayfers. After living for a few years in Marietta, GA, with NO Gayfers, I was happy to be back in Gayfer’s land. Loved that store in Daphne!
Gayfer’s in Mobile had a bakery. They made my wedding cake in 1984. My sister- in-law was a manager of Gayfer’s in Montgomery and my mother-in-law working in the jewelry department at Gayfer’s in Montgomery. I miss Gayfer’s. It was an amazing store.
A wedding cake from Gayfers? That’s the most wonderful Southern thing I’ve ever heard of! I’m sure it was delicious.
Loved that fudge!
I remember the Bell Ringer Sale and Moonlight Madness Sale of the many sales.
They always had big yellow balloons for the midnight madness!
I miss Gayfers the most at Christmas. The best store ever! NOTHING comes close to being as good. My daughter and son in law met while working at Gayfers. Best store ever.
To meet your spouse at Gayfers is a new story, but now that I think about it, they probably weren’t the only ones!
Gayfers in Auburn!! I loved that some of the stores had a separate building to house the Home Store and they were fabulous!!! Oh, how I miss Gayfers!!
Have you noticed that since Gayfers closed, the world seems to be falling apart? Hmmm. Coincidence?
I can’t believe you never saw the bakery!!! I have never found a gingerbread man cookie in this town that can compare… Christmas hasn’t been right since ’98:( your mom knew what she was doing by keeping you away. This article makes me so happy and there is not a week that goes by that me and my clients do not speak of Gayfers.
That’s it. I’m calling Mama and asking about this bakery thing!
YES!! My aunt and I were just reminiscing about the bakery and the smells AND THE GINGERBREAD COOKIES this afternoon ??
She bought us those delicious iced gingerbread cookies for years when I was little. If anyone finds a lead on gingerbread cookies as good as those, or has a secret recipe, PLEASE SHARE ??
Loved the Copper Kettle cafe at the Gayfers in Mobile Alabama
Oh my goodness, did this hit a chord with me! LOVED Gayfers! I spent untold hours there! Beautiful clothes, great customer service and the sales!!! I guess the old Cordova Mall store was my favorite, but I also liked T&C, Springdale, and Tallahassee Mall. If I traveled to a town that had a Gayfers, I went shopping. And 90% of my Christmas shopping, (at least), was done at Gayfers. Miss it? You bet I do!
Someone told me they still have the old shirt boxes they refuse to throw away!
I’m one of those folks!!
Then you’re one of us!
I was a Gayfer Girl and then College Board. Years after college graduation I cam back to be Millie Longs Asst.in the Special events Dept. Later I worked with June Shelley in the Bridal Dept. Whom is still one of my favorite people of all time. Then later I became a fragrance rep and launched White Diamonds. Worked there off and on at Springdale from 10th grade till my 30’s
I can tell you it was one of the best work times in my life and every year our family still wraps a gift in a Gayfer box as a joke. It’s always fun to see who is going to get the box and what’s inside.
Gayfers helped shape your entire life, and I’m sure you aren’t the only one. What a great story. I think the special events department must have been a fun place to work! Thanks for sharing your memories!
June Shelley was my consultant at Gayfers in 1992 when I got married – and was also my wedding coordinator! I can’t believe no one has mentioned the Kopper Kettle restaurant – I’ll bet I ate breakfast with Santa 4 or 5 times in there! It was a great store.
What a treat to have your own wedding consultant who was such a big help. Do bridal stores even do that anymore? I remember walking past all the wedding dresses when I was little and think about how pretty they were. I grew up going to the Pensacola Gafyers stores and can’t remember if they had a restaurant or not. I’m glad you mentioned the name of it because another reader was also asking about it. Thanks so much for the comment!
I’m one of those folks!! I was employed at Gayfers during the 70’s and 80’s. It was a privilege to be one of their associates. Of course great stores start with great management and the Springdale and Downtown store has the best….I have worked many different places over the years and no place comes close. Walmart has been the worst. I cried when they tore down the Springdale store….
I cannot tell you the number of times I have said “I sure do miss Gayfers”! Loved shopping at this store and none of the ones since can hold a candle to Gayfers.
Absolutely agree. Thanks for reading Glenda!
My sister’s first job was at Gayfers, folding clothes in the Jr’s Dept. She hated that so when they opened “The Kopper Kettle”, she jumped at the chance to move over. Starting at hostess/waitress & many years later, as Asst. Mgr., she made many friends behind and across the counter there. I would take Mom to the Bell Ringers Sale to watch the stampeding customers then we’d slip into the restaurant to have breakfast with my sister picking up the tab. We all miss Gayfers. thanks for much for the memories.
I love a solid plan for shopping a sale, and to start with eating is the perfect plan! Thanks for sharing your great memories!
Hey Friend! Long story how this ended up in my mailbox, but…. I miss Gayfer’s too! Great memories of my GG days in Jackson, MS. Hope your family is doing well. Merry Christmas!
Oh my gracious!!!! How I miss my Phi Mu friend! So good to hear from you, and of course you were a Gayfers Girl. You’ve always been the most perfect, charming and elegant girl I’ve adored from back in the day! Let’s catch up soon! – hugs!
I miss Gayfers everyday!! My Mom worked at all three Gayfer stores in Jackson Mississippi from 1970 until they closed (bought by Dillards). I grew up in the stores and want to thank you for all the memories. I wasn’t a Gayfer girl either, wasn’t allowed to even apply since my Mom worked there but thoroughly enjoyed the girls and the fashion shows. Gayfers provided good quality and good service to customers and treated their employees like family. I still can’t find a store that even comes close…
The more I hear from people who worked there, it really was like a family. I worked for Gayfers for one weekend doing inventory. That was my little extra job on the side while I was in college. Such a nice company! Thanks for reading!
I worked for The Jones Store Co. in Kansas City for 29 years before they closed in 1998,too. They were part of Mercantile Stores like Gayfers.I was in Advertising. We were the largest advertiser in KC. At Christmas we ran a toy train in Candyland. I rode it when I was little in the 40’s and my daughter rode it in the 60’s.Macy’s replaced Jones in most locations.The quality of the merchandise isn’t the same. The discount stores took that away.I still have good memories of Jones and occasionally run into some former co-workers although a lot of my old friends have died.
When you have a good work experience, it’s always a treat. Thanks so much for your great comment.
I am 76 years jold now and when I started wearing makeup, my Mom took me to downtown Mobile to Gayfers where they would mix the powder to match my complexion…..and I thought that was the coolest thing in the world…….and when I started working, I bought a fur stole there……all of $150.00……that was about 1962 and that fur stole went in and out of fur storage at Gayfers every year…..and my daughter who is 37 now was a Gayfers girl at Edgewater plaza and what a learning experience it was for her……she widened her horizons and made friends with girls from all over the coast……that is where she learned to gift wrap……and so the story goes……miss our Gayfers……
Custom mixed make-up is quite a luxury now! Gayfers was ahead of its time in customer satisfaction. So glad to hear about your good experience! I’ve yet to hear anyone say anything negative about Gayfers!
Thanks so much for reading and your nice comment.
I too miss Gayfers. Spent many Christmases shopping, having lunch and wrapping all he presents before going home. I was a member of their Career Girls when I began working. I also miss Holmes at Bel Air Mall who use to have the most fantstic Christmas displays each year. We always took the children to see the Dickens village or the Nativity town. Fabulous memories. I believe all those displays were burned up in a fire. Too bad Dilliards didn’t try to recreate this tradition. At the very end the children had their pictures made with Santa. Anybody remember this?
This sounds wonderful. I love the idea of a Dickens Village and Nativity Town. Thanks for sharing your memories!
My daughter WAS on the TEEN BOARD at Gayfers – many years ago. my chest filled up with pride to be albe to tell everybody the good news when she was chosen. All the girls chosen were very pretty, but, of course, my daughter was the prettiest to me !!!
Prior to her being chosen, we were loyal shoppers at Gayfers. They were the very BEST store to shop in Tallahassee, florida. Everyone was so sad to see them close. Such a loss.
I spent lots of time at the Tallahassee Gayfers and I’m sure your daughter was the perfect representative! Thanks for sharing your memories!
My Gayfers was in Tuscaloosa. The makeup counter lady did my makeup for my wedding. My mom’s mob dress came from there. Then my daughter’s clothes from layette to prom dresses were Gayfers bargains. I had my first manicure there & my hair cut & permed many times. I have pics of my daughter’s 1’st haircut there. She was a fashion show model one Christmas season & we bought the dress on a discount. If clothing needed repair, we dropped by alterations to drop it off. Our computer desk came from there too. Moonlight Madness meant great buys for my gift closet. Oh my, I still miss Gayfers!!!
If they’d sold caskets, we’d go from birth-to-death in that store! Thanks for sharing your great memories!
I used to go by every Friday afternoon and watch my favorite items until they went on sale. Never shopped anywhere with better sales! My brother even had a saleswoman in the men’s dept who would call him and hold things for him. She seemed to know exactly what he would want and when it reached a price he would be happy with.
When the salespeople would call the customers like that, it always made you feel so special!
Actually, there were 29 stores after they bought Maison Blanche. We had ti wear dress clothes, we were not allowed to chew gum on the floor. We were warned that a sigh was not allowed. The customer was always right!! It was a great store!
It was more than a department store, it was an amazing bakery, a great restaurant and the best customer service. I also long for those days of “going to Gayfers” with my mom and granny. I don’t think there will ever be another like it. Thanks for the walk down memory lane…I do it every time I drive downtown Mobile…that was my favorite one!
Thanks for the note Leigh Ann. So glad you liked the story and you have wonderful memories as well.
I was a buyer for Mercantile Stores in NYC. Mercantile owned and operated all the Gayfers Stores. Gayfers was one of 9 groups of stores across the country. In 1992 Mercantile moved their NY buying office to Cincinnati. I didn’t make that move. I remember how sad I was when Mercantile moved. It was the place if my first job. The place I grew up and the place where I made so many friends. It was a company that valued customer service and giving the customer the very best experience. I went on to what some would call a very envious career but I’d give it all up to still be at Metcantile. I loved working there as much ad you all enjoyed shopping at its stores. All your stories brought back very very fond memories.
It’s no surprise that working in the headquarters was a nice experience. Goodness always flows from the top down! Thanks for your note!
Oh, man…do i ever miss this place. Never been another store like it. I really ENJOYED shopping there, unlike my present day experiences….Miss it especially at Christmastime..along with the lighting of the Christmas tree outside..
Just like little children, Gayfers was always at its best during Christmas!
Santa Rosa Mall ~ Mary Esther. I shopped there for years and in the Pensacola stores too. My aunt retired from the Town and Country store. I went to work for McRae’s in SRM when it opened and I worked there 29 1/2 years until the day they closed it two years ago. Those were the days of good quality merchandise and excellent customer service. Me Ford and Mr Howell may have run competitive stores in the same mall but they were great men who loved what they did and had mutual respect for one another. The best days of my working life!
The Town and Country store was where I mainly shopped at Gayfers. When my parents moved to FWB I also loved going to Santa Rosa Mall.
Lord and Taylor in Atlanta was also one of those great stores. I know the one in New York is still open but I now live in Florida.
It’s amazing that current retailers don’t understand that when they offer courteous service and good quality items, we’ll be crazy loyal to them! My husband’s grandmother shopped at Lord and Taylor in New York and I still have a little L&T box she kept buttons in!
My grandmother, Brownie Pierce worked 40 years at Gayfers/Dillard’s. She retired at age 75. She used to put me in the Gayfers fashion shows when I was a little girl. My grandma could just look at you and she knew your size and the perfect outfit for you. The Moonlight Madness sales were awesome! The people who worked there were like family. I was so sad when they changed to Dillard’s and closed all together. I was really sad when they tore down the building. I miss my grandma (Bammaw) and Gayfers.
I’d love it if I could find a salesperson who would actually help pick out outfits. I wander around looking for a skirt, then wander and look for something to go with it . . . I can’t ever find anything!
I dreamed of being on the Gayfers’ Teen Board in high school. I loved that store!
Wasn’t it a great place?
Oh Leslie Anne you are so right. This time of year I think of Gayfers frequently. It was my mother’s and mine favorite place to shop in Clearwater Florida. We looked forward to their Bell Ringer sale for Christmas. There was always a festive atmosphere with holiday music. A man was dressed as the bell ringer at the front door. The clothes, especially the dresses, were so stylish. I wore some of them over twenty years. I miss them, sigh. I forgot I bought my wedding gown from Gayfers, also the bridesmaid’s gowns. So many memories there with my daughters & mother.
I love reading all these comments about Gayfer’s. I wonder if anyone recalls a particular experience of mine. I don’t think I was ever a Gayfer’s Girl—surely I would have remembered that!—but I remember being hired for a summer job in the 1960’s selling Wemberly ties, when I was a teenager. I think that is what they were called. I was to participate in a store promotion and they named me “Miss Polyester,” demonstrating how impervious to stains these polyester ties were. I remember standing by the tie display, with a table set up with a bowl of soapy water and bottles of mustard and ketchup, and I would apply mustard and ketchup to a tie, hold it up, then wash it out in soapy water, and voila!, a clean tie. My memory—which is getting more faulty by the year—is that it was in the PNJ at the time, along with a photo of me (which I still have). It is wonderful to be reminded of the great shopping experience there. I also worked there in summers in the clothing department.
What a great experience and wonderful story! I’m in awe of your title: Miss Polyester! Royalty in Gayfer’s no doubt!
I just happened to think of Gayfers this afternoon. When I entered the workforce in 1984, I purchased most of my wardrobe at the Gayfers store in Albany, Georgia, where I was living and working at the time. The merchandise was affordable and of great quality. They did indeed go all out for the Christmas Season. My late mother worked in retail, and I long for the days of super nice and affordable department stores. Dillards is there now. It is better than it was a few years ago. The instore hair salon closed around 2010 though. Anyway, sorry to be longwinded. Thanks. Being older now, I often reminisce about my young adulthood. I met one of my best friends and his wife during those years. I hope to visit them soon. They reside in Hoover. Again, thanks for posting something about Gayfers.
So glad to hear your memories. I was just telling someone the other day that people still love this story and want to share their experiences. A nice clean department store with helpful staff is a thing of the past, I’m afraid.
I have just discovered your blog and the Gayfer’s story caught my eye. Loved the comments and memories they evoked. I lived in Tampa where there was no Gayfer’s and from time to time I had to go to Clearwater where there WAS one! I always timed my trip so that I could spend my lunch hour at Gayfer’s. Then later, in Savannah, I remember one Moonlight Madness where I bought six work outfits for less than $200. Now, THAT was a sale. My sister’s wedding dress and my bridesmaid’s dress came from there as well.
Hi Debbie. So glad you found the blog and the Gayfer’s story.I think it’s the favorite “commented on” story I’ve done. Everyone wants to share their experiences because Gayfer’s was so nice and such a good place to shop, and we miss that now! Thanks for your story. I love the six outfits for $200!
Oh my gosh!!! I grew up with Gayfers and I have NEVER found a store to even compare. Great prices and merchandise. How I wish Gayfers was still here!!! What wonderful memories of days gone by. Love me some Gayfers!!! Betty
Every time I’m in another current-day department store and see things smooshed together on the racks or worse yet, crumpled on the floor, I think, “Gayfers would never let this happen!”
I loved shopping at Gayfers. One year I worked during the Christmas holidays in Customer Service at the store in Springdale Plaza. I took advantage of the employee discount buying my Christmas presents. At the end of the holidays I owed more on my Gayfer’s card than I made!
That’s a great story! And I’m sure you secretly didn’t mind!
I was a member of the Gayfer’s junior board 35 years ago and miss the store. Millie Long was our leader. fond memories!
I’m sure you had a ball!
My heart aches every time I go back to Mobile to visit my mom and don’t see Gayfers there anymore. I still have my Gayfers. credit card too. I bought my wedding dress there in 1975. It was so beautiful. We registered with Gayfers for our wedding gifts. My mother andI always shopped there and would eat in the Copper Kettle restaurant there. I loved Gayfers and have such wonderful memories.
That’s very cool that you still have your credit card. This past Christmas, my mother gave me a small Gayfers jewelry box – just the box, nothing in it. She knew I’d love it. And I do!
I grew up in Richmond, VA, but GAYFERS will always have a special place in my heart because my grandmother, Margaret Green, worked at the Springdale Plaza Gayfers in mobile. She worked in the boys department, but she seemed to know everyone in every department! It was always such a joy to get a package from her, and it was usually a nice outfit or a piece of jewelry and always in a GAYFERS box!
The people who worked at Gayfers made every store feel like a hometown.
Two store closings “broke” my mother’s heart…. Gayfer’s and Delchamp’s! Life was never the same for her after those stores were gone!!!!
So here’s a guy commenting. Sorry if I’m out of place. I didn’t realize Gayfers started in Mobile, but that’s great. I did like the Gayfers here in Montogmery – both of them. I had never been exposed to it until we moved here in 1979. It was a mainstay store in this area. And while I did like it, I don’t miss it quite as much as I do Parisian, another Alabama based department store. Their men’s department was always spot on, as was the entire store. Such a sad passing of these two iconic Alabama chains. The big box stores just don’t match up.
Plenty of men have told me their stories about Gayfers – some in person when I’ve been signing books and others on the blog.(Little known fact, most of my readers are men. They just don’t comment much – how my computer stats know that, I’ll never figure out!). They loved working there and shopping there – some as adults others as little boys. You’ve taught me somethng new — I didn’t realize Parisian was based in Alabama. How could I not know that? I guess it’s because I lived in Florida during it’s most popular time. Of course, I thought it was French! Hahaha! Ooo-la-la, y’all!
On the memories of Gayfers! I have just read every single comment and it took me down memory lane. I remember trying out for the coveted title of the Gayfers girl and didn’t make the cut either:(. But , the shopping and service was beyond compare! I will never forget shopping for Easter shoes! I found a pair that my mother didn’t like , so we went to a million other stores and couldn’t find anything else that I would buy. Finally , momma brought me back to
Gayfers and bought those blue shoes! They had long laces that tied up my ankle and I thought they were the coolest shoes ever! Thanks everyone for all of the interesting comments.
I think your shoes sound lovely and so happy you remember them in detail. I think the comments have become better than the story itself! Thanks for adding to the fun!