Around February 1977, a new mall was being built in Ft. Worth called Hulen Mall. An upscale department store was going to open in that mall called Sanger-Harris. I needed a part-time job to help pay for seminary, so I went out there to see if I could get a job. The fact that I had retail experience made me a good fit for the store, and I was hired to work 4pm-8pm Monday through Friday.
Sanger-Harris was just a step down from Neiman-Marcus. The store had a lot of expensive things, and then merchandise that regular people could afford, too. I was hired to work in the Home area, and specifically Books and Records. I also sold Stationery, Luggage, Toys, Sporting Goods, Candy, and Fabrics. Everything about the store was great. We even had celebrities come to the store to make personal appearances. George Hamilton. James Beard. Playboy playmate Hope Olsson. Just to name a few. On Saturdays, someone would play the grand piano in the center of the store, or we would have a choir come in. It was a classy place.
My fellow employees were also very nice people--Mrs. Miller, Gert, Ron, Don, Charles, Maria, and Kare were my favorites. I just had the best time working there, and it was really fun. I even would stay after it was my time to get off. I would clock out and continue working. I came in on my days off to work. My supervisors would have to make me leave and sometimes drag me out of the door. I just couldn't stay away.
In the Book Department, we would have authors come in for book signings. One Christmas, I was able to give my family autographed books from famous authors. Our Record Department was rather unique. Due to our employees (me included), we sold more records than any other department store in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, and our Record Department was in the top three record stores in sales in Ft. Worth. That was a huge accomplishment. We sold albums, 8-tracks, and cassettes. I already knew the rock artists, but I had to learn about country music. Especially Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys. They were are number one best seller. I then started to listen to everything. Once, I had a customer come in and ask me for the record with a train whistle in it. I knew that was Willie Nelson, so I got good at identifying songs. We also got the best display items for the department, because of our high sales. One in particular was a life-size Steve Martin standee. It promoted two of his comedy albums. When the promotion was over, I took the standee. My distributor was not happy, but I got it anyway. I still have it, and I think it is the only one in existence. I also got some promo albums and tapes from working there, and one was of David Bowie. I really loved his music, even though I had never heard him before.
I worked at Sangers for almost 3 years, even going full-time after graduating from seminary. I stayed in Ft. Worth an extra year to be with my friends. So much more to talk about that store, and I will in future stories.