Rich's Remembered - A Holiday Gift
There has never been anything like a Thanksgiving Night at Rich’s Downtown Store. And if you ever went to one, you never wanted to miss the rest: faux stained glass tinting the Crystal Bridge, with choirs and singers on every level, tiered below a tree whose shadowy outline erupted into blazing, sky scraping glory when a singer nailed the highest “di-VINE” in “O Holy Night,” and unnumbered thousands of people on the streets radiating from Rich’s gasped, hollered, cried, laughed, hugged, kissed, shook hands with people they’d probably never see again, but who had shared something unforgettable: The Lighting of the Great Tree. Once seen, never forgotten. Never seen again, forever missed.
But memories remain vivid, affection apparent, mementos cherished – no time more than around Christmas.
Georgia Public Broadcasting’s presence is not limited to Atlanta. Neither was Rich’s. Employees by the thousands, customers by the millions. I was sure there were wonderful stories to be told.
I read Celestine Sibley’s Dear Store; and Jeff Clemmons’s Rich’s: A Southern Institution. I had a little chore convincing my Boss here that if she walked up to almost anybody over 20 and said “Rich’s,” she would get a genuine response. She did.
It was easy to get nearly overwhelmed with the century-plus Rich’s that was here: one of the first stores to offer credit; always ready to contribute when catastrophe struck, and when need arose, with their still-extant Rich Foundation; sponsoring Fashionata and donating revenue from that Fashion Show devised by Sol Kent, that attracted designers from literally all over the world to Atlanta.
A store that took cognizance of its young customers with its Teen Board, and drew attention from national magazines like Time and The Saturday Evening Post; a store whose female staff members like Anne Berg, Faith Brunson and Nathalie Dupree earned national recognition.
I have met some wonderful people in the year plus that I, producer Tonia Tyler, and photography director Kevan Ward have been working, with appreciated assistance from Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum, author Jeff Clemmons, Tom Asher, ever-fashionable Martha Jo Katz, and Sol Kent’s wife and sons, and Terry Clark, Terry Kay, Nathalie Dupree, and a studio full of Rich’s Stuff collectors we met one Saturday morning here at GPB.
Join them, and others as well, Christmas night at 7:00 PM as Georgia Public Broadcasting offers “Rich’s Remembered,” the story and history of that Southern Institution and the people who love it still.