Wacker’s Kicked Walmart’s Butt!

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The world was a better place when Wacker’s, not Walmart, was the place to buy your stuff.

Wacker’s was a low-budget store at the corner of Crawford & Comanche in Norman, sort of round the back from Main Street, in the low rent part of downtown.

It was always busy. You had to park along the street, because there was hardly ever any room in the cramped parking lot out back.

Wacker’s had started in the Depression, and the Sales Ladies stuffed it to the gills to get maximum return on every square inch of shelf space.

The aisles were barely wide enough for two people to pass. They had to turn sideways and say “S’cuse me” as they brushed past each other.

I heard the Wacker’s building was originally home to a grocery store and a bank, which explains why a vault with 10-inch concrete walls was used as the layaway room.

I’m pretty sure the owners never spent much on repairs or remodeling. When you walked from one cluttered room into another, the floor would literally groan under your weight.

Wacker’s could sell their goods so cheap because they bought a lot of them from businesses that had recently gone bankrupt or were possibly on fire at the time.

Cool Stuff

I don’t remember a Christmas in my youth when I didn’t get cool Wacker’s stuff under the tree. 

Levi’s?  Check.  Five-button fly, straight-leg, boot-cut or corduroy, thank you ma’am.

Overalls? Check.  Especially the pin-stripe kind you’d wear at Norman High with a tight T-shirt that showed off your football muscles.

Levi jackets? Are you kidding me?  Yep, complete with Marlboros in the front pocket.  What?  Yours didn’t come with ‘boros in the pocket?  Hmm. I’ve no idea why mine did.

Best Western Wear Ever 

But without doubt, Wacker’s was best known for having the best, cheapest cowboy gear in the universe.

When I was in my mid-teens, Santa would always bring me Levis and a pair of rough-out cowboy boots.  By the next December, the heels would’ve worn clean off and the toes gone all shiny, so it was time for another pair.

While boots would come and go, a young fella’s cowboy hat was forever.

To this day, I get emotional thinking about my Sombrero Superlina — a $7 straw cowboy hat that smelled of smoke when I bought it in 1971.

hat

Over the years it developed its own unique look and molded perfectly to my head, at least until a buddy’s ’64 Chevy named “Gator” ran over it.  

Tragically, Wackers closed in 2001 because Normanites had abandoned the old downtown area in favor of the “Marts” out West.

Think how much better we’d all be if Wacker’s was still open, smelling of smoke and sawdust, leather and straw.  

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Click HERE for more Oklahoma memories.

And HERE for my little boy cowboy duds, featuring red boots and Fanner Fifties.  

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2 Responses to “Wacker’s Kicked Walmart’s Butt!”

  1. Lillian L.. says:

    OMG! I haven’t thought of that in decades. You are so right, the world would be a better place with it still there. Absolutely way better than Wally World.

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