Growing up at the pharmacy, my favorite time of the year was December. I loved seeing the store transform with Christmas decorations, holiday music playing overhead, hot apple cider for our customers at the pharmacy counter, and of course, tons of holiday candy!
Talking with my grandparents Bob and Jean (4th gen. owners) last week, I asked about their favorite part of the holidays at the pharmacy. My Grandpa enjoyed heading to the pharmacy right after Thanksgiving dinner was cleaned up to get the Christmas decorations up around the pharmacy. The whole family would pitch in. He said the kids, including my dad, weren’t quite as enthusiastic as he was.
My Grandma remembers her grandfather Louis Oswald (2nd gen. owner) running ‘Doll Contests’ in the 1930s during the depression. It eventually evolved into ‘Boy and Girl Contests’ in the 1940’s so the boys could try their hand at winning prizes too. I asked her how the contest worked, and she didn’t quite recall. She suggested I look up some old advertisements, and that’s exactly what I did!
Oswald’s Doll Contests
Using the University of Illinois’ Digital Newspaper Collection website, I uncovered an ad from 1925 (7 years before my Grandma was born!) explaining how the contest worked: for every penny spent at the pharmacy, you got a ‘coupon’ to vote for your ‘favorite’ girl in town. 15 girls with the most votes would win dolls that retailed from $1.98 up to $15.00! $15.00 would be $250.00 in today’s dollars. That must have been one heck of a doll! The ad mentioned the dolls were “unbreakable” and “talking” – so, in 1925, that must have cost a pretty penny.
During the contests in the 1930s, my grandma remembers tallying the votes with her Grandpa and Dad after the store closed on Christmas eve. The winners would get their dolls on Christmas morning at 10am!
As much as our pharmacy has changed over the years, it was fun seeing the old advertisements for the pharmacy in the Naperville Clarion (a Naperville newspaper that ran until 1969) and realizing how much similarity there is in what we still sell: pens, hairbrushes, stationary, envelopes, thermometers, fine soaps, safety razors, shaving soap and mugs, flashlights, candies, and of course, drugs! Though I’m sure some regulations around certain drugs have changed since 1925.
Happy Holidays from Oswald’s
We hope to see many of you on our customer appreciation day, Saturday the 3rd of December. We’re having a big sale, free gift wrapping, snacks and beverages, kids’ activities, and giveaways all day long.
As we head into the last month of 2022 I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season. My family is grateful for your continued support and looks forward to seeing you in 2023! ℞