Back in the 60s I was living in Whittier, California. Both my wife and I were full-time college students and living off a very meager income. Our entertainment had to come from simple pleasures. Often we’d visit Knott’s Berry Farm which, at that time, didn’t cost anything to get into. Free parking, free admission and you could walk the place over without spending a dime.
Another simple pleasure was driving down to Santa Ana and going to Pier 1 Imports. I don’t know how many of these stores there were in the LA area or if they had gone nationwide yet. The one near us was the only one I knew of.
At that time imported goods weren’t that common in America and the only made in China junk was made in the Republic of China which we know today as Taiwan. The door to trade with the People’s Republic of China, aka Red China or mainland China, was still frozen shut. Most of the offerings came from Southern Asia, Africa, Mexico and South America. Also, most of it was trinkety in nature and inexpensive. O most visits we’d pick up some doo-dad to brighten up our rented house a little.
By the 80s Pier 1 Imports had gone national and there was one in the Eastgate Mall near Cincinnati. Made in China was everywhere and Pier 1’s line up had improved greatly. We still have some woven waste baskets and rattan porch furniture we bought there 30 years ago.
It’s probably been about that long since we’ve been in one of their stores but I recently drove by a store and got to thinking about how unique they once were. Going to Pier 1 was a treat because of the aura or mystique of seeing all those things from so many far off places. I don’t know what their drawing card is today since imports are so dominant in all our retail establishments. But, I wonder if maybe they should consider reversing their original business plan, and name, to become Pier 1 Domestics?
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