Throwback Thursday: Christmastime in Downtown Clearfield

Christmas shopping has traditionally meant the lion’s share of sales for both large and small retailers.

The big change since the photo, taken one evening late in 1957, is how shopping and sales are done.  Nick Sabonish, a long-time Clearfield photographer who’s now deceased, snapped the shot.

Malls, by the late 1950’s and 1960’s were being built at a rapid pace in most sizeable towns and suburbs.  Big “box store” chain retailers also became a landmark of American merchandising.

Catalog sales stayed but were more targeted to selective buyers.  Certainly, no one in 1957 could have predicted the rise of online shopping, which has substantially cut into mall and store sales.

Downtowns, throughout the United States and, of course, in Clearfield, still held their own in 1957.  Christmas shoppers were used to going from store to store and often knew the sales personnel by name.

Both customers and merchants seemed loyal to each other.  That is, to an extent, true today and local downtown business owners and municipal governments, in Clearfield County and elsewhere, much to their credit, have successfully banded together to keep sales flowing through their town streets.  They’ve done well to cope with the changing business models.

The photo shows South Second Street facing north. Holiday lights were strung from building to building across the street.  The courthouse plaza, then too, had a decorated Christmas tree.

The street had a two-way traffic pattern then and many of the businesses shown have come and gone.  Some of the buildings have been removed and replaced.  Change happens.

The great cars of the 1950’s, seen parked along the street, are a whole other story unto themselves.  It is no wonder that summer car shows are so popular.

The Clearfield County Historical Society wishes everyone a blessed Christmas and or Hanukah Season, as well as a happy and healthy 2020.

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