A Proper, if Overdue, Eulogy for Parisian

RIP, Parisian

A kid in the stands at the ball park was pulling homework out of his backpack when a vintage pencil emblazoned with PARISIAN rolled out of his book and onto the ground. All of us moms gasped and recoiled as if we had seen a ghost. The kid grabbed the pencil and shuffled off to study, but we sat in painful silence until someone finally sighed, “Good ol’ Parisian.”

That was all it took. “Remember Bargain Days?” chimed in one mom.

I’ve still got some of their Parisian Signature brand clothes,” offered another, with a hint of sadness.

My sister brought her Christmas gifts in an old Parisian shopping bag last year!” cried one mom indignantly. We all understood that it wasn’t that the bag was old, but that it would be so painful to be reminded that there is no Parisian any longer. We need closure.

So I am going to lead the women of Birmingham in a eulogy for our dearly departed Parisian. We simply must let it go. For one thing, it’s been gone for years now. (What is it about us Southerners that just cannot release the past?)

For another, Belk has been a wonderful part of the community, expanding the shoe department at the Summit and providing essential sponsorships and venues. This fondness for Parisian is no reflection on Belk (although I don’t recall Parisian carrying quite so much polyester – maybe that’s because  the grandma demographic also shops Petites).

Join me, ladies:

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to pay tribute to Parisian, our shopping alma mater. Parisan was the place that brought us much anticipated Bargain Days and the Top Ten Must Haves.  A place where we were Somebody Special.

Like Scarlett, we always wanted to know what the ladies of Paris were wearing. Parisian gave us that. As Harrod’s is to London, as Barney’s is to NYC, and Gump’s to San Fransisco, such was Parisian to we ladies of Birmingham. We loved the polished floors, the sophisticated ads, even the perfume counter smell. And let’s not forget the interest-free revolving credit.

But all these things have passed on, relics of another time. In retrospect, we might have known that the merger with Saks 5th Avenue was not going to work. The Manhattanites were never going to be happy headquarted in Birmingham, and we bear them no malice. We must not forget that this all happened before we had Railroad Park or an Einstein Bagel downtown.

So we bow our heads for a moment, saddened that our daughters will not know the thrill of taking a long lunch during Bargain Days. Even so, we have much to be thankful for, because we have known the joys of hearing the hangers click as we slapped through them. We have known Clinique Bonus Events with our girlfriends. We purchased foundation garments in the youthful days before we truly required extra Foundation.

Perhaps most of all, we have known a no-interest revolving account that shall never be known in our lifetime again.

Rest in Peace, Parisian.

  • https://birminghammom.com avadee

    And blessed forever be the Parisian career salesladies, who were attentive without hovering, and tasteful yet not prudish. Parisian gave us the (free) Personal Shopper and the no-questions-asked return policy. We shall never pass this way again, indeed. Amen.

  • https://www.facebook.com/rachael.crutchfield Rachael Crutchfield

    Purchased 2 pair of moc-croc Ferragamo Pumps for $50 each (reg. price $365) at the Harbert Center location on a Parisian bargain day sale. I wear a rare shoe size, so this was truly the find of a lifetime.

  • Stephanie Harris

    I shed a tear for Parisian Kid brand, they were fantastic clothes that lasted & were reasonably priced.

  • Tina

    Weren’t the salesladies the best? There aren’t retail professionals like that anymore. I have a friend who has gone on in her career but says the training she got at Parisian as a college student was some of the best she ever received.

    I wish some of these blessed former salesladies worked in furniture stores now. Perhaps they could transform the hovering, take-my-business-card-I-insist culture.

  • Tina

    Ah, the Harbert Center location. When I worked downtown it saved my bacon for several baby showers and boss’ day gifts. It still pains me to think of how all that pedestrian/retail space has sat vacant for so long.

    Props on the pumps! I’ll bet you relive your great buy every time you wear them. Great investment.

  • Tina

    Oh, I didn’t even think of the Parisian Kid brand. So true, that was good stuff. Parisian also had the best restrooms, too, with a separate space for nursing moms and diaper changing.