The Dahlkemper's catalog was one book that teenagers would read without complaining. The giant Wish Book that would barely fit in the mailbox. We would spend hours looking at every item, page by page, making a mental list. Heck, I just spent an hour looking through one of the catalogs, reminiscing about the old days.
You could get everything at Dahlkemper's. A ring with your birthstone, an lcd watch, kitchenware, a Sony Walkman, Black & Decker tools. Furniture, folding card tables, a Packard Bell 386SX computer with 1 MB of ram and a 2400 Baud internal modem. Giant Bell South cordless phones, Cobra CB radios. A Sony Watchman portable TV player. DP exercise machines. Tents and sleeping bags. Presto electric heaters. Every board game imaginable, including Monopoly, LIfe, Scrabble and Clue. Lots of Little Tikes toys for kids.
I had to chuckle while looking through the 1985 catalog, where I saw a Sunbeam toaster that we still use everyday. I also saw a Hoover Decade 80 vacuum cleaner that lasted for 24 years. A Pentax K-1000 35mm camera that probably still works (along with various other pre-digital camera gear that I haven't used in several years).
Dahlkempers had a number of stores at its peak. The corporate headquarters was located at 5120 Peach St. in Erie, Pennsylvania and they had retail stores in the Eastway Plaza and the Millcreek Mall. It's too bad that this retail department store is no longer in business because it was a fun place to shop. There were sample items on the sales floor. If you found an item that you wanted to purchase you would grab a clipboard from a pillar, fill in the order number of the item on a pick form, and take it to the sales counter. You would get paged when the item was pulled from the warehouse.
Joseph B. Dahlkemper founded the Dahlkemper's chain.
Enjoy more facts and photos of Erie, PA at: Old Time Erie