People referred to the business at the corner of Fourth and Spruce Streets as Sosnik’s for years after the name was formally changed to Thalhimers in 1953. Morris Sosnik and his brother-in-law, Samuel Sosnik, established the ladies’ ready-to-wear store in 1920 on Liberty Street. Ten years later the business moved to 500 West Fourth Street. In 1949, Sosnik’s merged with Thalhimers of Richmond to become Sosnik-Thalhimers and the building, designed by Raymond Loewy, was enlarged and expanded in 1950.
Some of the ornamentation was removed from the building, and the front was flattened so that the name of the store could be affixed to the building.
Before the department store was built this lot was occupied by the home of the Marmaduke Norfleet family. See the photo above.
Thalhimers carried clothing for all members of the family, plus home furnishings, fine china, and silver. A beauty salon was located on the third floor and the basement level featured candy and budget departments.
Brides found their dream wedding gowns on the second floor. The shoe department and the Salem shop were also located on the second floor. One of these photos shows the Villager Shop, a popular brand of ladies’ clothing.
The Fourth Street store expanded into the adjoining building (at the far right) when the furniture store went out of business. Thalhimers then occupied the entire 500 block of West Fourth Street.
A parking lot in the back of the store provided shoppers with an easy way to stop and shop. There was an entrance from the parking lot into the basement floor. The house shown in this photo was demolished in 1971.
When Thruway Shopping Center expanded and added more stores and services, Thalhimers opened a store on the end nearest to the parking lot between the older and newer buildings. Stein Mart is located in the former Thalhimers space. And, Thalhimers moved to Hanes Mall when the mall opened in the 1970s.
The downtown Thalhimers Department Store provided many memories for Winston-Salem residents over the years because of its unique features and its longevity. Do you remember the elegant ladies’ restroom that also included a lounge area where one could rest from shopping and compare notes with fellow shoppers? Do you remember the machine in the shoe department where the salesman looked at your feet to determine a good shoe fit? Do you remember the specialized areas on the first floor with separate counters for gloves, hats, and other accessories? The saleswomen were located “inside” the counter areas.
Do you remember selecting gifts of silver for wedding gifts in the silver and china department on the first floor? Do you remember admiring and choosing candy from the candy counters in the basement? Did you ever have your hair cut and styled in the Beauty Salon? Did you search for the perfect baby outfit or toy in the Baby Department?
I remember selecting my wedding dress from many beautiful dresses in the Bridal Department. I remember opening the large outside doors with the wooden handles and being transported into a well-supplied department store with many tempting items.
What are your memories? Please share.
If you want to learn more about the long history of the Thalhimers stores, check out the book, “Finding Thalhimers,” by Elizabeth Thalhimer Smartt. The Forsyth County Public Library has copies.
Photos courtesy of the Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection.