Old Town Tustin

by Juanita Lovret
Reprinted courtesy of the Tustin News

Only those who have lived in Tustin for 30 or 40 years remember that once there were shops within walking distance of the middle of Old Town for almost anything you'd want to buy. There were dozens of clothing shops, yardage shops, menís shops and shoe shops as well as several jewelers.

Mention Claire McNairís Sax of Tustin to a woman who has lived in the Tustin area for many years and youíll elicit memories of its elegant decor, sophisticated atmosphere and clothes that were-to-die-for, even after youíd peeked at the price tag. No other store in town came close to it for elegance and chic.

Women who were in their teens in the Ď70s and Ď80s often sigh as they remember the prom dresses and school clothes that their mothers purchased for them at The Jabberwocky, that quaint little red building in Old Town. Some are alumnae of its fashion board and recall the great fashion shows Margaret Pottenger organized before school started each year. Dorriís also specialized in clothes for teens.

Today thereís one shoe store in Tustin, but once the town had a handful, or should I say foot full, of shoe stores. Sellers, Millerís, Kellyís, Reeves, Wayne's Bootery, House of Van and The Athleteís Foot were scattered across Tustin Heights, Tustin Square, Larwin Square and The Courtyard shopping centers. You could buy everything from Stride Rite for the kids to athletic shoes or evening slippers.

Nahaís in the Tustin Heights shopping center was Tustinís first department store, with Kresgeís over in Larwin Square its first mass merchandiser. Shops for womenís clothes abounded. The ladies could choose from Mildredís, Suburban Shop, Sallies Shop, The Village Shoppe, Cinnamon & Co Boutique, Serendipity, Tiki Togs and Janetteís.

Men and children, too, were well provided for. Stevenís Menís Shop, Charles Edwards, Hendersonís and Sunny Smith all served Tustinís males. Bergstromís, Kids Mart, Wizard of Togs and Baby News catered to the younger set.

Pattersonís Jewelry, which traces its heritage back to the 1930s when it was owned by A. H. Hibbet who later sold out to Albert Farnsworth, had competition including Larwin Square Jewelry, Crest Jewelry and the Diamond Exchange.

Building was thriving at that time and there was a choice of home furnishings and gift shops in downtown Tustin. Leeís Lampís, Bennett Carpet Co., Red Hill Carpets, RoseMarie Draperies, Hamilton House, Kitchen Things, Pretty Potty, Ermaís Gift Box and Carlís Party House were among those offering a wide variety of household items.

During that era, most women sewed, making clothes for themselves as well as their children. Tustin High Schoolís evening sewing classes were popular. C & D yardage, Dís Yardage and Carriage Trade Fabrics sold yardage, patterns and sewing supplies. Hand knits were fashionable and The Village Knit Shop helped many women to become proficient knitters.

Regardless of what you wanted to buy, from an engagement ring to yummy breads and desserts, you could probably find it in Tustin during those years. There was even a Tustin Cab in case you needed transportation. Today, for some mysterious reason, with the exception of Tustin Market Place and now The District, both of which are miles from downtown Tustin, there are very few stores which cater to a shopper.



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