Sunday Ads: Nifty Needles!

Written by on October 23, 2016 in Sunday Ads - No comments
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This 1930 ad promises a breakthrough in sewing technology! (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

This 1930 ad promises a breakthrough in sewing technology! The downtown store was on North Illinois Street approximately where Buca di Beppo stands today. (Image: Indiana State Library)

Business:  G.C. Murphy and Company

Date of Ad:  December 10, 1920

Location:  Downtown, 33 North Illinois Street

Years of Operation: 1906- 2001

Notable: Before K-Mart, Wal-Mart and the plethora of big box retailers, there was G.C. Murphy and Company, affectionately known as the “five-and-dime.” Offering a wide array of general merchandise, Murphy’s was an institution in many cities throughout the Midwest and Northeast. The most prominent locations in Indianapolis included the downtown store, featured in this ad and another location in Fountain Square in the former Granada Theater. In the late 50’s, Murphy’s expanded to the major suburban shopping centers. When they opened in Lafayette Square, the first enclosed mall in the city, it was difficult for shoppers to escape without a bag of caramel corn as the aroma seemed to permeate the entire building. After being acquired by the failing Ames chain in the 1980’s, the once prosperous chain declined until finally going bankrupt in 2001. What once was a chain of over 500 stores had dwindled to around 80 at the time of its demise.

Additionally:  Many have probably attended an ugly Christmas sweater themed party. The often mocked craftwork highlighted at these events is known as needlepoint. This pastime involves painstakingly stitching different colors of thread over a pre-made pattern to produce “art.” The 1930 advertisement highlights this new technology in gift making. For the low price of seventy five cents, one gets a needle, loom, two patterns and a free demonstration setting up years of crafty enjoyment.

 

The Jiffy Art Company was a leading producer of needlepoint patterns that can still be found in stores today. (Courtesy eBay)

The Jiffy Art Company was a leading producer of needlepoint patterns that can still be found in stores today. (Courtesy eBay)

This 1969 ad focuses on the Indy 500. Murphy was a sponsor of race entries throughout the 50's and 60's. (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

This 1969 ad focuses on the Indy 500. Murphy was a sponsor of race entries throughout the 50’s and 60’s. (Courtesy Indiana State Library)

The Fountain Square store survived late into the 90's in what was once the Granada Theater. Today the building is known as the Murphy Art Center and features several businesses and studios. (Courtesy Jeff Kamm)

The Fountain Square store survived late into the 90’s in what was once the Granada Theater. Today the building is known as the Murphy Art Center and features several businesses and studios. (Courtesy Jeff Kamm)

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About the Author

An avid runner who enjoys daily jaunts throughout Indy's historic neighborhoods, Jeff deeply appreciates the detail and workmanship of old architecture. So much so, that he lives downtown in a restored historic building. He also works downtown as a manager of a not-for-profit that promotes globalization throughout Central Indiana. In a past life, Jeff worked in the hospitality industry and may one day pen a book about the ridiculous things people do while staying in hotels. Stay tuned.

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