December 6: Flasher Christmas Commerce
On this date in 1928, readers of the Flasher Tribune were reminded that there were only 15 days of Christmas shopping left. Fewer days than today, since stores were closed on Sundays back then.
Advertisements and articles argued that Flasher was the best place to go for Christmas shopping. The local newspaper stated, “Truly, when Christmas shoppers visit…they will be amazed at the wonderful assortments of Holiday merchandise…. Again, we say, there is no need for the people of Flasher and community to go elsewhere to do their Christmas shopping, because they will save money, as well as time and perplexing shopping problems, if they try the Flasher stores first!”
The stores advertised their stock with festive flair during the days before Christmas. Westrum Bros., a furniture and hardware store, noted that their buyers should “say it with furniture this Christmas,” displaying drawings of a mirror, table and chairs, and a living room adorned for Christmas.
Another ad featured a Santa pointing at a headline encouraging shoppers to “try the drug store first…” with diamonds, watches, smoking sets, phonographs and records, hand painted pictures, as well as toys—at bargain prices.
Hoffman's general store advertised men’s and ladies hats, coats, gloves, sheepskin coats, toys, and even “extra fine” Christmas trees, available in mid-December.
The Flasher Cash Store was another general store that was part of a chain. Its ad encouraged shoppers to “make this a practical Christmas,” and along with home goods and clothes, it advertised candy and groceries.
All this advertising seemed to work, according to the newspaper, which relied on advertising. After Christmas, The Flasher Tribune said “small towns are meeting the challenge!” The newspaper claimed that many people “motored to Mandan and Bismarck to ‘window shop’ but returned to Flasher to do their buying.” The paper asserted that local stores experienced “splendid patronage” with better business than seasons past, adding "we’ll tell the world that Flasher is holding its own and daily increasing its trade territory.”
But, just like most small towns, much has changed. Flasher was once a stop on the Bismarck to Deadwood stage line. And by 1928, the year of today's datebook, it had a population of around 340. And while the stores of 1928 are gone, the town is still alive and well, with a population of 217 as of the 2020 census.
Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker
- The Flasher Tribune, Thursday, December 6, 1928, p1, 8
- The Flasher Tribune, Thursday, December 13, 1928, p4, p5
- The Flasher Tribune, Thursday, December 27, 1928, p1