Every metropolitan city had at least one major department store. Cincinnati had Shillitos, Columbus had Lazarus. Dayton had Rike's.
During my lifetime, Rike's had many different incarnations before finally being turned into Macy's by Federated Dept. Stores. The crown jewel of the chain, the huge downtown Rike's department store was torn down in 1999 to make way for the beautiful Shuster Performing Arts Center.
My purpose here is not to write a history of the department store, but to share a few of my own personal memories.
Kettering had one of the first "suburban" Rike's department stores ever built. We went shopping at what was known as the "Rike's Kettering" shopping center. At the time of my childhood, the store wasn't much different from the way K-Mart or Target is today. The check-outs were located in the front of the store and large picture windows lined the entrance. My brother and I would walk to Rike's with our friends and he would buy the latest record albums.
During the late 1960's my mother decided to take an evening job at the store to help with the bills. The cards above contain the dress code she was expected to follow. Reading it gives you quite an insight into the fashion expectations of the day. Some of the more interesting statements are " As a rule, sleeveless dresses should not be worn by mature women" and "the smart women is always accessorized properly from head to toe". I wish I had a copy of the dress code for the men!
My mother enjoyed working for Rike's, but she was working in the girls sized 4-6X department. A great plus for me since many nights she would come home with some wonderful new outfit, but it wasn't so good for her pocketbook! Some of my favorite memories were when she would bring home chocolate covered pretzels or the latest fashion accessory for Barbie! But, mom never enjoyed being away from her family for very long and so her career with Rike's soon came to an end.
In the late 1970's and early 80's Rike's changed the look of their stores. They decided to go more upscale. I remember clearly the white tile coming up and the hardwood floors going down! Even the mannequins began donning real eyelashes! We started shopping there a little less.
Soon, they changed their name to "Shillito-Rikes", combining with the stores in the Cincinnati area and then we lost the Rike's name altogether when all the stores became "Lazarus". The final change came when "Macy's" came to town. Although sometimes it's nice to say I bought something at "Macy's" (which is rare!) I have to say I really miss shopping at "Rike's". A large part of Dayton history is gone but it's not forgotten, at least for now.
The Rike's name may no longer hang over the door, but I still tend to call the place "The Rike's Kettering Shopping Center" and people just look at me like I'm from another planet.