There are more pictures available at the source:
There's a company called WonderWorks that embodies this style
Interesting fact: Sydney (who ran the company) and his wife Francis Lewis (an art collector) from what I understand had an unfathomably large amount of modern art located somewhere under Richmond, Va. They have a wing of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts named after them and donated quite a bit of art to the museum.
It was minimum wage. $3.05/hr at the time, unloading 60 ft trailers in 100 degree heat in the late summer. That notwithstanding we actually had medical/dental and paid vacation time.
Often thought if they'd made it longer, it was a pretty close approximation to online shopping. Look at an example on the floor and then order from the warehouse upstairs.
So.. like Ikea?
At Best (and Service Merchandise) you collected tickets for the items you wanted and brought those up to the front. They'd enter your order, you'd pay and wait. The items would be picked and sent on a conveyor to the front.
> ... They owned Best Products, a catalogue retailer that sold discounted goods in hybrid showroom/warehouses (sort of like Ikea). Selling everything from hair dryers to toaster ovens to doll-houses, they were proto-big box stores ...
> A credit hour in 1979 at MSU was 24.50, adjusted for inflation that is 79.23 in today dollars. One credit hour today costs 428.75.
That's about 1600 hours at $15.60, or 40 x 40-hour weeks. So you need to work most of a year to pay the tuition for a year. And this doesn't account for your living expenses, taxes etc.
Here's an infographic that does a more detailed comparison: https://college-education.procon.org/view.resource.php?resou...
Clearly the parent post was contemplating making $3.05 an hour in terms of today’s cost of living, just as I might contemplate how crazy it sounds to pay 5¢ a gallon for gas.
It was close to $400 a quarter near the end.
Nowadays, I imagine it would be more like 1/10 or less.
Cost for the courses and parking etc. for 1 semester was $152.50 . I guess the student had to buy some books also - so say, even $100 in books would take it to $252.50 ?
And 1975 minimum wage was $2.10/hour. So ~ 120 hours of labor (1 month) was enough to cover tuition and books.
A website has unlimited shelf space, physical retail doesn't. And e commerce has now been pretty much perfected with free next day delivery and internet banking.
I last remember going to Best in the early 90s somewhere in Northern Virginia. I have a boom-box CD player I got there, IIRC. The CD player doesn't work much, but 99% of time I just have a phone or tablet plugged into a cassette adapter, and it still sounds great.
Best was replaced by Circuit City over the course of the 80s and early 90s and now that niche is filled by Best Buy, at least here in the mid-Altantic east coast.
They had a weird business model too as I (barely) recall. You didn't usually go there and buy a product and take it home. It was a showroom for products that were in a catalog. You would order what you wanted from the catalog and then come back a few days later and they would have it for you. I bought a calculator watch there in grade school, which was very exciting. However the experience was so odd, even for that time, that I never bought anything else from them.
I think high-end photography is conducive to that style of operation, though. Handling the photographic items, and carrying them around the store, would likely lead to damage before sale, if things were left out in the open on the sales floor.
(My memory is a little shady. They were around when I was a kid and had gone under by the time I was a teenage).
Curiously Argos was owned by Big Tobacco for many years. I wonder how helpful that was during a time when retail was far from easy due to inflation, high interest rates, no EPOS and big changes to VAT, import tariffs and other taxation.
Much like how illegal drug businesses have front companies that don't have to make money but allow illegal money to be laundered into the legitimate economy, I wonder if Argos worked like that, enabling their owners to repatriate untaxed earnings. If some type of financial engineering went on then that could explain why Argos survived whereas Best didn't.
All the old Green Shield shops became the first Argos shops, and worked very much the same as they always had, just without the stamps. For the first few years you could trade old stamps.
I remember Labelle's for the amazing article in the Grand Forks Herald describing their parking lot as some nightmare creation of a clearly insane civil engineer and a drunk mathematician. To bad the article is before the flood, and they didn't seem to understand the concept of backups.
I think a degree of playfulness in buildings is good. Sometimes you want clean lines and minimalism but sometimes you get a better connection to people by doing these things.
I have no sense if they actually were functionally easy to maintain and workable but they certainly stood out in my mind. I recognized the frontage immediately, from a book I haven't seen in over thirty years.
I need to get on my city planning board (or whomever approves these things) and set a "no normal buildings" rule.
I remember when silly roadside attractions like just a big chicken were a big deal tom me as a kid.
Not enough of that these days. Or at least I think we need more.
Heh, I got an mp3 player new from Fry's once.
It came with a large number of songs.
Not sure that's earthquake ready.
Naturally Vegas has a slot machine.
I think part of supporting GDPR is being honest about the fact that it’s not purely positive for end users.
On a side note, it reminds me of (at least) houses in Greece not getting technically completed on purpose to avoid taxation of some form.
Also, they are whimsical, even avant guarde designs, but I wouldn't call it apocalyptic.
In the Bay Area, Consumer's Distributing came first. Best Products came later. Service Merchandise came West after that.
There was another small chain called something like DAG or DAK (not the Drew Allan Kaplan operation). There was a showroom of theirs near Camden and Union in San Jose near Campbell.
Best was the Best Buy of its day. I remember being fascinated by the pneumatic tube system in the store, something you only see now in bank drive-throughs.
I never knew they liked to do cool stuff with architecture. There were one or two locations in the Dallas area, and now I really wish I remembered what the buildings looked like.