Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Wish Book- Dahlkemper's Catalog

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


  1. Sort of an analog, bricks-and-mortar version of Amazon.com. Dahlkemper's was so ahead of its time.

  2. I remember the old Dahlkemper's on West 5th between Peach and State. I grew up 3 blocks away.

  3. I can remember making many shopping trips to the Dahlkemper's on Peach Street. It just didn't seem the same after they moved to the Millcreek Mall.

    Also remember shopping at the Dahlkemper's competitor on West 12th Street. I believe it was called Century. It was the same setup, products on display, you filled out the clipboard, placed it on the moving belt which delivered it to the back and then you waited for your name to be called to come to the register. Good times!

    1. I have a sewing machine that I bought at Century in 1974 that weighs a ton, but still runs like a top.

    2. Any chance that you have the receipt or an old Century catalog? Please let me know if you find either one. Would love to post it here!

  4. Every Christmas, my parents would let me get one good piece of jewelry out of the Dahlkemper's catalog. I still have every piece, whether it was a ring, a pair of earrings, a bracelet. LOVED that store! Century was good too, but it didn't have Dahlkemper's selection. Thank you so much for posting this!

  5. I looked in my attic and was unable to find the sales slip or catalog. Unfortunately, when I moved, I got rid of all unessential items. You know, all the things you think you don't need, but look for later and wish you hadn't thrown away. If I come across anything worthwhile, I'll let you know. Thank you for this blogsite, I enjoy looking every couple of days for new entries-it brings back memories.

  6. I wish you could scan the catalogs!