The store, open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays until 9:30 p.m., featured street-level display windows, glass showcases, mirrored pillars, solid quartered oak counters and fittings, and electric tungsten lamps with shades of brushed brass. It was an elegant emporium chock full of fine merchandise. Newspaper articles leading up to the grand opening described the layout of the store floor by floor:

Basement: groceries, candies, Venetian cut glass, crockery, hardware, china, leather goods, and the mail-order department.

Ground floor: silks, notions, laces, ribbons, hosiery, gloves, velvets, dress goods, tweeds, flannels, gents' furnishings, men's and boys' clothing, hats, caps, art, and needlework.

First floor: corsets, children's and babies' wear, perambulators, ladies' white wear and dresses, household linens, curtains, house furnishings, blankets, and rugs.

Top floor: carpets, linoleums, oil cloths, bedsteads, mattresses, pillows, carpet sweepers, general offices, dressmaking rooms, writing room, and the crowning glory, the Royal Welsh Tea Room, furnished in the Mission style, where an orchestra played daily from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and from 3:45 to 5:15 p.m.

At the Valentine's Day opening, customers were treated to dainty edibles and "the most delightful concord of sweet sounds" from the orchestra playing in the third-floor Tea Room. Customers were encouraged to place mail orders with female clerks attired in white linen

With 100 employees, an established mail-order business and consumer goods of every description, Pryce Jones was a direct challenge to the mercantile supremacy enjoyed by the Hudson's Bay Company since they first supplied the Northwest Mounted Police at Fort Calgary in the mid-1870s. The Bay felt threatened. Less than a month after the Valentine's Day opening, the Bay bought property at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Second Street SW from Senator James Lougheed and, in 1912, started construction of a $1.5 million store to rival the upstart competition from the "old country."
by Jennifer Cook Bobrovitz
Reprinted from Calgary Real Estate News, February 11, 2000, with the permission of the author

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

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