28 July 2005

[pdx_history] Abysinnia, Meier & Frank

Jack Bogdanski is taking a comment hiatus, so I can't leave a comment on his 'blog. However, If I could, I'd respond to this post kinda like this:

I remember spending a short period of my life in Idaho Falls (as Idaho Falls, so falls Idaho Falls) and I remember a department store there, one that seemed to have branches in Utah and southern Idaho (or as I like to think of it "far northern Utah").

It had the cryptic and improbable name of ZCMI. A sort of mystery like that doesn't lay down for long, so I eventually (through casual research, mind) found out what that stood for and how it started: it was ZCMI was acronymical for Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institute, which began in Salt Lake City as a cooperative association for local residents to sell thier wares.

Of course the ZCMI I visited in IF was hardly a cooperative, it was very much the model of a modern department store-kinda like Meier & Frank. One can only imagine my bemusement when I heard that, back in the '90s, Meier & Frank bought out ZCMI. The thought of a M&F store in Idaho Falls struck me as funny for some reason, even though I had visited the IF Fred Meyer store (north end of the Northgate Mile) and was relieved to be able to pretend that, just for a little while, I was back in the Valley.

It hadn't occurred to me to think how local IFers might have felt about losing a local name. I suppose now I know.

I look upon the departure of a long time Oregon stalwart (in name, anyway) with a bit of equanimity, I suppose. It moves me, but not much. I grew up east of Salem, in the small town atmosphere of the hilly side of the Valley; we only went into M&F occaisionally, and only then for the school-clothes trip. It was something that advertised in the paper, but not something we bought from often. Also I was born as the old glory days of M&F in downtown Portland were well on the wane-I only heard of the Friday Surprise as a tradition reincarnated a few years back as a promotion, and the tradition of family trips to M&F on Sundays to be seen in the diner are, to me, born as a downstater, something of a legend only.

Really, big corporations buying out and extincting local names are such a part of my existence that I note them in passing; I'm pretty numb of it by now.

Still, goodbye, Meier & Frank. I will miss you, and Gerry Frank will have to work that much harder to explain just why the heck he's famous.

No comments: