Taking stock of department stores’ importance in American life

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    Once upon a time, between the era of dry goods emporia and the current world of Wal-Mart, retail was driven by department stores.

    In the Philadelphia area, John Wanamaker’s, Gimbels and Lit Brothers dominated. In nearby Allentown, it was Hess.

    NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller discussed the influence these stores once had on American life with Hartwick College associate history professor  Vicki Howard, author of “From Main Street to Mall: The Rise and Fall of the American Department Store.”

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