Buffums



Buffums' main store at Pine and Broadway in Long
Beach consisted of an older, 1914 building (right)
 and a six-story 1925 addition.

Buffums' imposing store dominated the
Pine Street  retail landscape in Long Beach
from 1904, and later spread throughout
southern California.

Buffums' recognized the value of convenient parking
and in 1941 built a parking garage, known as
"Buffums' Autoport."

Buffums' Store for Men was a 1941 addition
south of the main store along Pine Avenue.


In 1964, Buffums' leased and remodeled an adjacent
building to the west, thereby creating "Buffums'
Broadway Shops."



In the 1960s, Buffums' opened a new "Varsity Shop"
for young men across the alley from the Store for
Men on Pine Avenue.


Buffums’
100 Broadway at Pine Avenue
Long Beach, California


HE 6-9841





Lower Level
Gift Gallery • China and Glass • Lamps • Housewares • Book Shop • Toys • Patio Shop • Lawn Furniture • Bathroom Accessories • Ask Mr. Foster Travel Service
Lower Mezzanine
Gift Wrapping


Street Floor
Fashion Jewelry • Fine Jewelry • Time Shop • Cosmetics • Toiletries • Notions • Handbags • Umbrellas • Handkerchiefs • Leg Fashions • Hat Bar • Gloves • Women’s Rainwear • Accessory Shop • Shoe Salon • Mainfloor Separates • Mainfloor Coordinates • Blouses and Shirts • Stationery • Silverware • Candy
Store for Men Men’s Furnishings • Men’s Sportswear • Men’s Clothing  Attache Shop • Men’s Shoes
Mezzanine
Luggage • Ski Shop • Sportsman Shop • Camera Shop, Radios


Broadway Shops Red Cross Shoe Store • Gourmet Shop • Interior Design Studio
125 Pine Street  Varsity Shop


Second Floor
Sun-Charm Sportswear • Casual Dresses • Young California Junior Sportswear • Young California Junior Dresses • Young California Junior Activewear • Young California Junior Coats • Girls’ 3-6x Shop • Girls’ 7-14 Shop • Young Deb’s Shop • Little Shaver Shop • Boys’ Shop • Young Boys’ Shop • Toddlers’ Shop • Baby Shop • Children’s Shoes • Nursery Furniture • Maternity Shop


Third Floor
Designer’s Circle • Boutique Dresses • Boutique Sportswear • Designer Sportswear • Accent Dresses • Young Careerist • Dress Shop • Fashion Shop Coats • Fashion Shop Suits • Women’s Shop • Fur Salon • Fashion Millinery • Robes • Lingerie • Sleepwear • Foundations • Junior Lingerie


Fourth Floor
Bedding • Bath Shop • Draperies • Trim-a-Home • Fashion Fabrics • Art Needlework and Yarns


Fifth Floor
Offices • Ticket Agency • Credit Sales Desk • Television-Stereo Sound Center • Records • Beauty Studio •Card Shop


Sixth Floor
Terrace of the Four Seasons Restaurant • Personnel Office
(214,000 sq. ft.)







Santa Ana
Main & 10th
July 1950
108,000 sq. ft. 
The Yorba Room


Marina
Pacific Coast Hwy at 2nd
July, 1961 
17,000 sq. ft.


Pomona
Top of the Mall
October, 1962
144,000 sq. ft.

The Palomares Room


Palos Verdes
Peninsula Center
Crenshaw at Silver Spur
August, 1963
43,000 sq. ft.


Santa Ana
Store for Men
Main & 10th
October 1963
8,000 sq. ft.


Lakewood Center
Del Amo at Graywood
July, 1965
73,000 sq. ft.




Newport Beach
#1 Fashion Island
September, 1967
80,000 s.f.
The Franciscan Room


La Habra Fashion Square
August, 1968
120, 000 sq. ft.
The California Room




Fashion Valley
San Diego
September, 1969
80,000 sq. ft.
The Ballast Room


Laguna Hills Mall
1973
50,000 sq. ft.
The Granada Room


Santa Anita Fashion Park
Arcadia
1974
80,000 sq. ft.
The Palm Terrace


Westminster Mall
April, 1975
90,000 sq. ft.

The Country Barn Restaurant


Glendale Galleria
August, 1976
90,000 sq. ft. 
Villa Valencia

Grossmont Center
La Mesa
August, 1978
80,000 sq. ft.
The Sheumiere Room










Coming in due course.





75 comments:

  1. Hello, everyone. My name is Michelle, and I used to work at Buffums at the La Habra Fashion Square (early 1980s). I worked on the Third Floor in different departments: china/silver, gifts/Trim-A-Home, and housewares/bedding. And I must say, had it not been for my experience at Buffums, I wouldn't be knowledgeable about things from all of those departments. I also learned a lot from the people who worked there. I owe a great deal to Buffums for giving me the opportunity to be a Buffums employee...it was truly an honor.

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  2. I worked at Buffums for ten years from 1979 to 1989 at the Glendale Galleria store,it was my first job in retail and I worked in almost every area of the store, from sales to management, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I have mantained many of the wonderful friendships I had from working there and was a great techer for me in my career. I miss the whole department store experience and I was happy to have been part of a great era in retail.

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  3. May I ask where you get your sketch-style images? I would love to see higher-resolution pictures

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  4. David-
    They are from newspaper ads announcing the store's opening, for the most part. Some of them are really exquisite.

    I am currently writing a book about Jacobson's in Michigan. I saw some of these renderings in newspapers, but when I tracked down the stoe's archives, donated to a museum, I was able to use high-resolution versions for the book.

    Bruce

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  5. I remember that the beautiful LaHabra store did not use mannequins to display outfits. They just draped them over chairs and tables with the appropriate accessories... kind of like what a person would do at home when picking out an outfit for the day. I thought that was very clever!

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  6. Thank you for this interesting detail. For those of us who remember them, these most unique retail establishments had their own atmosphere, made up of a thousand little tidbits which have been washed away in time.

    I am preparing a book about Jacobson's, a similar type of store in Michigan. It's own "time-and-space" was a result of the desire of its owner to focus on what made the store unique, and eliminate anything that was tawdry or out of line with his vision for it.

    Buffums' must have been very similar, and it is a shame that such quality of thought and presentation was not rewarded with success, but forced into bankruptcy. At some point this site seems to be not so much about department stores, but about us, actually, don't you think?

    Bruce

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  7. Oh yes, indeed. These stores helped define our towns and, in turn, us! You are very intuitive, my friend.

    I have been communicating with you earlier about the L. S. Ayres stores in Indianapolis. I used to be a supervisor, years ago, for the old Hickory Farms stores when they were company owned. I moved with that company from Indy to Cleveland, to Los Angeles. We had seasonal kiosks in most of the malls of those cities. So, I am very familiar with many of the stores you highlight on this site. Later, until retirement, I was a customer service supervisor for a clothing manufacturer, a job that took me to Houston. So, of course, I shopped at Foley's. Now I am back in California, in the high desert where our shopping palaces are K-Mart and WalMart. Just not the same, huh? Thanks for these wonderful memories---Nick

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  8. I grew up in Pomona in the 60's and 70's. The Buffums' store was the largest in the chain other than the flagship in Long Beach. I spent many hot summer afternoons there in the Fine Antiques and other departments while my mom had her hair "done" in the salon. We would have lunch after in the Palomares room. Monte Cristo or chicken salad sandwichs were my favorites. Ah, the memories.

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  9. Was this place around in the 40's or before? And did they take wedding photos?

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  10. Buffums' was founded in 1904. Most department stores had a portrait studio, so I would assume Buffums did take wedding photos. I have no proof of it, however.

    BAK

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  11. I use to work at the Grossmont location. I wish I had photos or something to jar my memory

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  12. Unfortunately, Buffums' didn't include a sketch or picture of the Grossmont store in their advertising at the time, but I am always on the lookout for one.

    Bruce

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  13. Bruce, I am fascinated with your blog, thank you for this. I am in the process of possibly opening a restaurant featuring signature dishes from department store tearooms and cafes. What a great resource your site has been...thank you.

    Mike Sakowitz Twomey (yes, distant Sakowitz relation)Sakowitz50@hotmail.com

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  14. Hello. I Have A Very Rare Buffums' Alligator Purse Called "My Lady"... There Is No Information Any Where About This Piece, Which Was My Mother's From The 50's 60's... It's In Great Shape, Does Anyone Have An Idea What It Is Worth, Or Where I Cold Find Information On It?

    Thank You.

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  15. BAK, thank you for this wonderful blog where we can share nostalgic memories of the bygone era of the local department store. Like yourself, I spent my childhood near Eastland (East Detroit, MI).

    I moved to Los Angeles in the early 80s--just in time to catch the end of the great SoCal dep't stores: Bullock's, Buffum's, Robinson's, May Co, The Broadway, Bullocks Wilshire, I Magnin, Joseph Magnin, and Orbach's were still around then.

    Sadly, the Buffum's building at Lakewood Center (faced Del Amo Blvd) was just torn down in the past few weeks. Shortly after Buffum's closed, it was converted to a Pacific Theatres multiplex. However, the exterior 60s vintage facade remained reasonably intact. Like most areas, movie theatres were overbuilt and Pacific abandoned the building 3-4 years ago. I assume a big-box retailer is in the works.

    The most enjoyable experience of Buffum's Lakewood was that the store was never remodeled. Right into the 90s, the original 60's era decor (sculptured gold carpeting, spiked-brass chandeliers, etc) remained intact. With each visit, I was instantly transported back to my idyllic childhood at JLH Eastland.

    While walking down an alley in the past few years, I happened to nab an old (pristine) Buffum's box from the recycling bin--an unexpected treasure. Being around the holdays, I surmise that someone had used it to store their decor for decades.

    Glenn

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  16. Dear Glenn:

    Thanks for your comment. I was born in 1958, so I do remember the style of Hudson's in Eastland in the 60s. To see Eastland now, is very disappointing. When it was enclosed in the 1970s, the center lost its beauty.

    I am glad you got to experience those west coast stores . . . really some of our greats . . . I only know them from ads, pictures, and the remembrances of people like yourself.

    Best wishes to you!

    Bruce

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  17. I also worked for Buffum's. My first job out of high school. The Santa Anita Fashion Park Mall location in Arcadia was an early 70's time capsule up until its closure at the company's liquidation. All orange and avocado. The two story three section lighting fixture at the mall entrance was way cool too, heard that got razed along with the building when they built the new Nordstrom wing. I still have my employee handbook (and name badge) with the cool line drawings of each location up to Grossmont. There were two additional locations opened: La Canada (formerly an Iver's store) and Palm Springs before the parent company (David Jones from Australia) liquidated.

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  18. Could you share those drawing with me for posting here? I would require a high-resolution scan, which you could e-mail to bakgraphics@comcast.net.

    Something that interesting would help bring back many of your colleague's memories.

    Thanks!

    Bruce

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  19. I loved Buffums!..I worked the Santa Anita store one Christmas around 1979 or 80 doing gift wrapping. One classy store!..Loved eating in the restaurant/tea room. They had the best chicken salad sandwiches ever. It was very sad when they closed.

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  20. Pat Titman Odell23 September, 2011 00:13

    I have wonderful memories of Buffum's. I applied for a position as a comp. operator just out of high school. (1959) Pine Ave. store. Grace Leavitt was the controller at the time-and hired me!!! I was slow-but, she was so kind, and told me that my work was accurate and speed would come later. I had lunch with her about 6 years ago at her home in Newport Beach. I went to Long Beach State College in the fall and became an educator. I worked at Buffum's through college-first as a Young Careerist-then where ever they needed me-elevator operator-secretary-accounts payable-sales in all dept. I worked whenever I had a few hours and every Saturday...even enjoyed Harry Buffum's holiday party on the roof!!! I purchased my wedding dress there when I graduated in l963. It was a wonderful experience...and I treasure those
    years and the people that trusted me. I miss Buffum's!!

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  21. Department Store Museum! What a fantastic idea. For years, after having worked at several now-long-gone department stores, I've taken photos of buildings and interiors of old, once-treasured stores. I'm glad to see the La Canada-Flintridge store was mentioned here. It's often left off of lists of the Buffums chain. There was also a small neighborhood -style store in Solana Beach, California. The store was built to serve the ranch and coast communities in North San Diego County as well as tony area of Rancho Santa Fe area. Buffums was famous for it's chandeliers and restaurants. It was a marvelous company and store.

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  22. I grew up in the 50s, I can remember going to the downtown long beach store for school clothes and at christmas time, have photos of my brother and i sitting on santas lap. my mom would have my brother and i keep our hands in our pockets while she browsed the china and glass department. seems like i remember they also had a multi-storied parking garage, I believe it had a vehicle elevator. Later in the 60s when i was a teenager they had a young mens shop across the alley, the alley was decorated and painted with scenes to make you feel as if you hadn't left the main building. wonderful memories

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  23. I was one of the last five people to leave Buffums when they closed their doors. My best friend was the "secretary" to the president of the company and both she and I ended up with a lot of Buffums memorabilia. I have the Buffums "B" from the original Pine and Broadway store's tea room and an antique coat rack from that same location. It was a great store with wonderful customer service! The department stores today don't event come close...

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  24. I worked at Buffum's straight out of college when I graduated in 1968 for $2.15 per hour. I was in heaven working for the suit and coat buyer. Our cubicle was near Grace Leavitt's office and she was very kind hearted. She arranged for a baby shower for a needy employee. I heard that she kept the company intact following the difficult days of the Great Depression. I really miss the old Dept. stores.

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  25. i worked the la habra buffums store for 7 years in the 70's. i worked in the restaurant, moving up from dishwasher to head chef. it was a great time to work for such a great company. the store was, to me, very classy but at the same time affordable. they had everything in the store, from ski equipment to greeting cards, to fir stoles. just a wide variety of product. such a waste to see the company not exist anymore, after surviving the depression and all that followed. farewell to a time gone by. thanks la habra for some GREAT memories!!

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  26. I have a watercolor poster of the design for one of the Buffums stores. It was found in an estate in Long Beach, CA, that was once inhabited by the Buffums family. It was not necessarily there during the time they lived there, but rather was donated by a realtor to later residents of the home. I was hoping that you might recognize the store or the artist. Here is a link to the photo:
    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2699733339807.138380.1450860567&type=1&l=25272ba8eb Thank you! Sharn

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  27. Does anyone recognize this Buffums Store? This is an original watercolor design that is from an estate in Long Beach, CA. I am hoping to identify it so we can do further research. Thank you. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2699733339807.138380.1450860567&type=1&l=25272ba8eb sharnfwm@google.com

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  28. The photo is of the Manhatten Beach store that became a Macys' location. I worked for Buffums up until they closed in the Bridal Registery/fine china.

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  29. I used to work at The Buffums warehouse in Long Beach and my mother worked at the La Habra store in the 80's.

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  30. Looking for information on a sterling silver coin I have...It says: Money Redeemable in Merchandise at Buffums $25.00 then a serial number....Opposite side says: Buffums (logo) Twenty Five Silver Dollars..thanks Al

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  31. Hi, Al!

    It sounds like it was a gift certificate of sorts issued by the store. Perhaps one of this blog's readers could enlighten you more about it.

    Bruce

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    Replies
    1. i have a coin that says twenty five silver dollars buffums, worth something?

      Delete
  32. I've got a vintage hat from Buffums' in Long Beach. I'd say it's from around the 1940s. You can see pictures of it below-

    1) http://tinypic.com/r/2ivcz7a/5
    2) http://tinypic.com/r/jqj5eq/5
    3) http://tinypic.com/r/4t96bo/5

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  33. The Buffums in LaHabra was a gorgeous open- designed store with beautiful furniture and chandeliers designed by Tony Duquette, famous Hollywood set designer. In retrospect,I sure wish I had been smart enough to take advantage of the auction of all that incredible interior furnishing.
    LaHabra Fashion Square was a beautiful park-like outdoor center. It was never very busy due to the close proximity of the much larger Brea Mall down the street. Too bad, the lovely center was bulldozed down to make way for a nondescript cookie cutter "life style" center that has absolutely no "style".

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  34. Thank you for your comments!

    The sense of style present in these great department store institutions is truly in short supply, as you have noted. Even more interesting is the fact that the "style" helped them be successful, long-lasting enterprises, until the calamity of present-day business and society wiped them (and all of their style) right off the map!

    As you have put it, too bad (for us)!

    Bruce

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  35. Buffums opened a store in the former Walker Scott location at Tahquitz & McCallum in Palm Springs sometime after 1989 (1990-1992?). That was about the time that Buffum's shut all their doors. :(

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  36. I worked at the Buffum's in the Peninsula Center. I worked in the Mens Department and remember having many good times there!

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  37. My grandfather worked in the Downtown, Long Beach / Pine Avenue Buffum's in the early 1960's. He worked in the storeroom. I remember clearly coming to his work to see him..running thru the storeroom calling "papa". My family was from Scotland...so of course he was called "Scotty". I still have a frying pan / skillet that he brought home for my nana from that time period.
    Years later I became best friends in high school with the daughter of the President of Buffum's (during the late 1970's). Such a coincidence. I can recall playing tennis on the roof of the Buffum's in Marina Pacifica / PCH and 2nd. Great memories.
    - Donna

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  38. Wow! I wonder where you get some of your images? Please site your sources.
    I think most people whould be more that happy to share info/photos if you gave them some credit.

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  39. i was wondering if anyone can help me with some info as to when and were and maybe todays value on my grandmas gold powder box it is roubd with a picture of california on the front thank you my name is james

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  40. Hello, all
    My father worked at Buffums' from around 1950 till 1974. He started as hosiery buyer, and ended as Vice President General Merchandise Mannager. Grace Leavitt was mentioned by a few people. Their friendship continued long after my father left to take on Port O'Call Pasadena. The 'old crew' of Buffums' was a really amazing collection of talented, open-minded, hardworking and creative people. My sister and I were lucky to be so familiar with many many employees, from clerks, buyers, department managers, etc! My father's first buying trip to Europe was with Harry Buffum and his wife, and I have the slides my father took on it. Priceless. There will never be another venture like Buffums' or many of these great department stores. I can barely go shopping any more. My father's name was George W. Johns, Jr. His father Sr. worked at Robinson's in the 40-50s, after moving from St.Louis and Denver where he was with other great stores. My father started out after a GI bill MBA at the Broadway. I might post more if there is any interest.

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  41. Wow, does this bring back memories. I worked at the Marina store in the mens department, its was a small group of people but very interesting clientele. I remember we would go over to Hofs Hut on breaks which was at the same location. It was fun, and so many moons ago. Ive travelled the world, retired and live in Palm Beach, Fla. Sad to see the firm is gone.

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  42. Hi, I'm doing some genealogy and my grandfather's sister (my great Aunt) worked at Buffum's for 20 years. I think at the Glendale store but I'm not sure. Her name was Mildred "Mickey" Baker (she was married several times so her last name could have been something else). If anyone remembers her, please send me a hello. Thanks.

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  43. 28Jul: You might be pleased to know that not everything has changed at Marina Pacifica. Hof's is still there. The center was renovated in the mid 90s as a strip of drive-up stores (replacing the original "wandering wooden walkway" design). Interestingly, the (former) Buffum's & Hof's are the only original structures in the center that were left standing. Buffum's became Loehmann's.

    Glenn

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  44. MY husband found this site after a trip down memory lane moment this morning.

    I worked for Buffums from 1978 to the day I turned the key for the last time in the backdoor at the Solana Beach Buffums in May 1991.

    I started at the Fashion Valley store in the gift dept. then moved to the Housewares dept. then became the Area Mgr of China and Silver, Houseware, Stationery, Bath and Bedding. After having a baby, went up to the second floor and managed the Children's area, dresses and Sportwear depts. When the assist store manager became the Store Manager of the Laguna Hills store I was promoted to Assistant Store Manager under Walt Mizer. What a guy! When we would have a million dollar sales day, He would have a managers meeting in the AM before the store opened and would toast all of his management team with Buffums' Champagne. Drinking champagne and going thru the register tapes and receipts from the day before was a hilarious way to start the morning, Don't know how many errors we caught on those mornings. And the pranks we played! The Dock Manager went on vacation and we sent his desk on a long trip out to all the other stores, It was being shipped all around for weeks, before he found it and convinced another dock manager to return it.

    After a few years, I transfered to the Grossmont Center store as store manager, Left the company for a year and came back to open the store in Solana Beach the little jewel of the chain. It had previously been a Walker Scott store, where I had worked for a number of years lastly as a sportwear assistant buyer and corporate training director, so I knew the store and the clientele.

    When I first walked in the backdoor of Solana Beach as the remodel and renovation was taking place, the air was a cloud of drywall dust! You couldn't see a thing. slowly over the weeks it all came together, marble floors, grasscloth wallpaper, chome and glass display tables, amazing chandeliers, large interior columns and the center of the store appeared to be a huge open sky dome. (It really wasn't, all while glass and lighting in the dome)

    John Sullivan the store manager at the Palm Springs store was a dear friend of mine from the old Walker Scott stores. He and I worked together for several years until I left that chain, he was the store manager of WS in PSprings. I gave him the heads up on the Buffum's opening and he took that store.

    It was hearbreaking to close those stores. I helped close down, Fashion Valley, Laguna HIlls, and Solana Beach. We snitched crystals from the Designer Gallery chandelier as they were up on ladders taking all the crystals off the huge downstairs chandeliers in Fashion Valley. I think they had been sold to a store in Kuwait or Indonesia.

    The silver coins were plated as were the gold 100 coins. I used to sit in my office with a pile of them before Christmas with silver polish and clean them up before the holidays. The store managers and buyers were given key rings made out of the gold coins as our parting gifts. Mine fell apart and the finish wore thru.

    Some of the very best salespeople and staff employees in the world worked for Buffums.

    Beverly

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  45. Thank you, Beverly, for such a long and informative recollection . . . all pointing to a store that, while not the largest or most famous, was fabulous just the same, and clearly well-appreciated and missed by anyone that knew it and its people!

    Bruce

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  46. Bruce, thank you for the museum. I have always been interested in department stores so find the museum very enjoyable and anticipate every new addition.
    You are correct that a store may not have been the largest or most famous but is missed by all who knew it.
    I grew up in Coos Bay, Oregon and we had a wonderful store called The Hub. It only had two floors and at its largest couldn't have exceeded 50,000 sq ft. They carried above average merchandise and had many departments that stores today don't have.
    The owner died while on a buying trip and since the family didn't want to run the store, it was sold to an out of town buyer who ran it into the ground.
    The store has been closed since 1978 and I still hear how much The Hub is missed.

    Jim

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  47. I lived in Long Beach during the 1950's until 1962 and some of my fondest memories was shopping in the Varsity Shop in Buffum's Department Store. I can still remember the great clothes that I bought there. I still have a photo taken with my sister that was taken with Santa Claus in the toy department. I also remember Desmond's which was around the corner.
    Stuart

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  48. Hello I have a hand beaded coin purse in its original box untouched the inside of the buffums box has the date the department the salesperson and the check and serial number. The date is 8/13/1963 is this of any interest to you or anyone you may know? What is the value of something like this? Thanks

    Carrie

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  49. Karyn Grant Kline06 January, 2013 20:34

    I was an Asst Buyer for Carrie Sharkey in the 60’s. Main floor accessories and sportswear. It was a fantastic experience and was the foundation for my retail career. I later became an executive for Eddie Bauer and Helly Hansen. I will always remember Carrie Sharkey and her exceptional training. I did meet Harry Buffum who was always a gentleman. I was honored to work for such a respected retailer. Quality, quality!
    Karyn Grant Kline

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  50. I like your site. Very informative and love the sketches. I have a red fox fur stole that was purchsed at Buffums. My mother had given to me but I have no idea how old it is or what it is worth. She told me it used to be a coat but was altered into a shorter stole/jacket. It is in great shape. Where can I find informatin about this fur? Thanks.

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  51. I spent a lot of time in the La Habra Buffums growing up. I had no idea it was designed by Tony Duquette. I remember vividly the free form chandelier that hung in the store that looked like it had suckers hanging off of it. (I was a little kid and that was my reference to it at least) I always wanted to pluck one off. I would love to see photos of the interiors.

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  52. I worked at the Pomona location right out of high school in 1970. I was in the Camera and Luggage department for 3 years, then transferred to display and traveled to all the SoCal locations doing the windows. Until 1975 when left to go to Bullocks in Santa Ana. After 3 years with Bullocks, moved to San Diego and worked at The Broadway and in 1981, returned to Buffums in Long Beach as the Corporate Display Director until 1991 a the closing of the company...I did manage to obtain a great artist rendering of the Palos Verdes Store and a large black and white photo of the Lakewood store.....Love to hear from any other Buffums team mates or friends: terryR59@gmail.com
    Terry

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  53. Thanks, Terry, for sharing your experience with this excellent, uniquely independent store.

    Any chance you'd be willing to scan and send these to this site so that they could be shared?

    bakgraphicsk@comcast.net

    Thanks!

    Bruce

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  54. I grew up in Long Beach, the son and grandson of devoted Buffums customers.

    To this day, whenever I think of makeup and perfume, I recall visiting Buffums with my grandmother. The cosmetics department was located on the North side of the ground level of the flagship store, facing to the Broadway entrance to the store.

    Similarly, I recall shopping for my own clothes, along with my parents, when I was a child.

    At some point in the 1970s, the "Ask Mr. Foster" travel agency was moved to the 3rd floor, as my father and I would find respite from the women's clothes perusing the travel brochures.

    Finally, the "gourmet shop" in the Broadway Shops extension was gone by the early 1980s, but when it was a going concern, they stocked wines, cheeses and imported chocolates. In fact, I remember getting my first Terry's Chocolate Orange there in the 1970s.

    Although I have very fond memories of Buffums, their demise was largely inevitable. After they were purchased by the Adelaide Steamship Company, they just seemed to careen from one reinvention to another, never really embracing any of the new identities and never really connecting with customers. I think their single biggest failing was to pursue merchandising strategy that largely eschewed designer labels in the 1980s. Given that designer labels were at their pinnacle at that time, the approach seriously damaged their appeal to younger shoppers.

    Even as a teenager, my memories of Buffums from the 1980s were of a brand that was clearly and obviously dying before my eyes.

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  55. I sure miss the La Habra store. I remember the escalator and the glass elevator.When they auctioned items from the store I knew of an antique dealer who purchased the HUGE outdoor chandeliers. They don't have stores like that anymore.

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  56. We recently downsized and in storage found a 8"x8" Buffums box (no contents). Does it have a value to anyone?
    -drmark@drmark.biz in San Diego

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  57. How fun to stumble upon your site today. I was trying to find some information on some silverware that my mom had. She passed away in November. We have the cabinet that the silver is housed in, as well. It still has a "Buffums" label inside the lid. I'm trying to figure out what it is and who made it. Did Buffums have their own line of silver flatware in the 50's? Does anyone know?
    I have fond memories of these Southern California stores too. I shopped there with my Mom and Grandmother, ate at the tea rooms too. My Mom was a fashion model for these stores. It was always fun to go to the tearoom with my Grandmother and watch my Mom. Or even go there with my Mom when she knew all the other gals who were modeling. I felt really special when they would come and talk to us.
    Thanks again for your site.
    Cheers,
    Stacy

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  58. Wow! My son just happened on your site and sent it to our family, what a wonderful trip down memory lane! I loved reading the comments from loyal Buffums employees and shoppers. So many memories, and every time I drive into our garage I see the sign, "Welcome to Buffums'", it greeted you as you left the auto port to the Men's Store. More another time.
    Thank you!

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  59. You're very welcome! This site is a labor of love and is meant to evoke exactly the reaction you had, thus keeping our memories alive.

    Best wishes to you!

    Bruce

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  60. I began right out of High School in 1961 @ $1.00 an hour at the Long Beach store. I worked in the Stationery Dept. on the first floor. I lived in Sunset Beach and had to take the Greyhound bus to work. I so looked forward to each day. I was only there for Christmas but after gaining full time employment elsewhere I came back each Christmas for a couple of years to work nights because I so enjoyed the atmosphere and people.

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  61. Tonight I met a woman who used to work at Buffum's. We were at Fashion Island standing right near where it used to be. She shared stories of the amazing service there and how customers would send their children in to be entirely outfitted with a new wardrobe. She said nothing left the store if it wasn't in a beautiful box with tissue paper. And if the item was too big to fit into a box, then it was wrapped in paper to match the other boxes.

    She also spoke of the elegance of the tea room and how it was multi-generational with grandmothers, mothers and daughters. She said they would decorate for Christmas, have fashion shows and even weight watchers presentations.

    I was so grateful to hear her stories and see the sparkle in her eye as she shared them. I'm grateful to find the old logo here too the help me remember. Thank you.

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  62. My first professional experience in sales was working at Buffum's, beginning in the shoe department which was leased. It was quite the adventure. Then off to the accessory department and finally to department store manager all in Glendale, CA. It was truly my pleasure to learn at such a young age the true meaning of customer service. I continue the commitment to excellent service in my own company, and I am eternally grateful to Buffum's for their first class treatment to customer service.

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  63. What a Find! I grew up in La Habra, CA and remember Fashion Square> With Buffum's and Bullock's end capping the outdoor shopping center. I even worked at Fashion Square after high school, in a few of the smaller stores that lined the sides of that gorgeous walkway. It was always a big deal if "mom" came home with a shopping bag from Buffum's.

    I agree with the other posters that have said tearing down the Square for the now "strip mall" was not what we would have liked. I think the city was trying to compete against the ever expanding Brea Mall (which I worked at May Co. before their merger).
    Now- looking back at how the area used to look and what it is today, I prefer the old way. I think the city could have expanded without compromising the original look and feel of Fashion Square. I was upset when the Big Name Dept stores closed their doors, then Fiddler on the Roof restaurant shut down, same with the movie theater (walk in). It seamed like forever before they built the new stores and theater plus restaurants. Since then, too many stores have opened and closed, fast food places changing names - banks too.

    I loved the way Fashion Square was set up, with an Out Door Fountain, Trees and who can forget the Utility Room and open area,that was transformed into Holidays with Santa or the Easter Bunny. At Halloween it was a haunted house.

    I would buy my jewelry,watches and fancy hosiery (plus clothes and shoes) from Buffum's, they always had classy items on display at fair prices.

    Anyway-enough about good old La Habra Fashion Square. It was great in it's hay day and Buffum's was a very big part of its success.
    I don't think the new generation knows what a store like Buffum's is to us older generation, with the social media replacing tea rooms.

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  64. I was hired to work costume jewelry in the old Marina store on the corner of PCH & 2nd street for the Christmas season in about 1975. I stayed on and was transferred to shoes where I stayed until I left in about 1983. I went from Marina to Long Beach to Westminster to Newport Fashion Island to Palos Verdes. By the time I started in Westminster, I had become the shoe department manager working under the Cincinatti Shoe Company supervisor, Neal Cohen. At the Marina store, I would go to Lucky's and grab some fruit or yogurt for lunch, or splurge at Hof's Hut when I could afford it. Westminster and Newport had the most delicious food in their "tea rooms" and on Saturdays I would treat myself and get a cup of Clam Chowder and a piece of apple pie a la mode drizzled with honey sauce. The Newport tea room overlooked the ocean. I have great memories of Buffums and bemoan the lack of excellent, personalized customer service that they provided. The employees and customers really were like a family. I still have my old badge and some of those sturdy boxes they carefully wrapped purchases in. One of my dearest friends worked with me and our friendship continues today. My transfer from the teeny tiny Marina store to the 3(?) 4(?) story cavernous Long Beach store was an eye opener. I worked with Mr. Burns and Mr. Bayer who were old shoe "dogs" who taught me so much. They both must have been about 75, 80 years old, dressed up in suits and ties every day. I was about 21, 22. So many memories . . . donna c

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  65. I am enjoying these stories! I am not familiar with the store, as I grew up on the other side of the country. However, I am FASCINATED that "Buffum's" logo clearly inspired the logo of the television show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer!" (Which took place in fictitious "Sunnydale, CA") Also, I find it interesting that the founders daughter/niece Dorothy Buffum Chandler was nick named "Buffie." I realize this has NOTHING to do with your beautiful memories; but I am so curious now to know if there was more of a connection, or did someone just like the logo and chose the name of their main character based just on that.

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  66. I also worked at Buffums ' at their Main store in Long Beach. I was assistant personnel manager so I saw a lot of what went on in the store. I taught all employees, new and current employees. There was nothing like Buffums'. Their customer service was above any other store. "The customer was always right, even if they were wrong." Our offices were adjacent to Mr. Harry Buffum, a son of one of the founders. It was a very family friendly store, and I was sad when I heard they were closed.

    The museum is a wonderful idea.

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  67. Fantastic site - thanks for doing this.

    My grandmother worked for Buffums for many years and was the general manager of the Santa Ana store when it opened. I spent many hours in the Long Beach store as a small child roaming both during and after-hours.

    My favorite memories about the Long Beach location were the holiday pancake breakfasts in the early 70s - there was a Christmas breakfast with Santa every year, and also a Halloween costume breakfast which was followed by trick-or-treating in the daytime up and down Pine avenue. Small shop owners in the Broadway and Pine neighborhood would shell out candy for the kids.

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  68. For anyone who may be interested...I have a Buffums gift box with a red top. It has a gift tag and round seal. It was left in a home I bought years ago. It is in great shape. Can anyone tell me if there are collectors of such items, where I would find them, and is this a salable item?

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  69. I worked part-time in the shoe department of the Buffums in Manhattan Village. I am now the Assistant General Manager and Operations for Manhattan Village. :)

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  70. Hi all, very fun reading all the stories about the Buffum's stores. I grew up in Santa Ana and clearly remember the SA store on N Main St. Their Yorba Room had the best chicken salads and at Christmas time it was a real treat to go down and buy a dozen of their fabulous sticky cinnamon rolls. Our friend Irene Daniger managed the Yorba Room somewhere in the 1950's after running her own TeaRoom in the Santora Building on North Broadway. If anyone out there has the recipe for those cinnamon rolls I wish you would post it for all to enjoy. Thanks!!

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  71. I worked at Buffums from 1979 till it closed in May 1991. I stared in the Laguna Hiils store and became a asst. buyer , then transfered to the Santa Ana store and then back to the Laguna Store #10. This is were I learned everthing about business and still use today 35 years later.
    It was really a "family" company. I do miss those days. I still keep in touch with friends that I made there, that says alot about a company.

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  72. I worked in the lovely Tea Room at Glendale Buffums. Julie

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  73. Have really enjoyed reading this blog. I grew up in So. Cal and vaguely recall going to a Buffums once, but the reason it jogged my mind today was because I was copying some VHS tapes I'd made from television shows back in the 1980's and there were all these commercials from Buffums (among other vanished stores and lovely places) and I realized that Buffums no longer existed and it made me very sad and I looked it up online to see its history. Clearly, Buffums was a much loved store, because it was so much more than a store, it was a beautiful way of life staffed by hardworking, professional and wonderful people. This country is much worse off for having lost our fabulous stylish retail stores, hats off to all of you who used to work there. Maybe someday we will recapture our history.

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  74. I grew up going to the Buffums in Laguna Hills. My grandmother would take my sister and I shopping for school clothes there and we always ate lunch at The Granada Room. I even remember selecting to have my 9th birthday dinner at the Granada Room. Loved the food. My best memory is Christmas time at Buffums. The holiday decorations for sale were beyond elegant and gorgeous. Every Christmas, my grandmother purchased brass Christmas ornaments for us that were engraved with our names and the year. I still have those ornaments. Buffums was so special. I'm sorry that I cannot share that experience with my own children now.

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