Memories of Sears in Hicksville

The editors put out a call on Facebook for memories of working at the Sears in Hicksville. What follows is a compilation of those memories.

Sears pic

Frank Walker HHS Class of 1985Submitted by Frank Walker, HHS Class of 1985

I worked in the Catalog Department at Sears from 1984-1986.

A few stories:

1. When Cabbage Patch Dolls were big, 2 grown men almost had a fistfight over the last one we had in stock.
2. The day after Christmas 1984, we had to get there extra early to prepare for taking returns. We were on the lower level & we could hear the stampede of people running to the stairs when they opened the doors! One woman returned an electric toy organ & was visibly upset. I asked for the reason of return & she said it wouldn't play unless you turned it upside down. I stopped & started to smile & she said "It's NOT FUNNY!!!!" I imagined her nailing it to the ceiling & saying, "Oh there it goes!"
3. One woman ordered a washing machine to be delivered to her. She came to Returns with a curtain rod, saying this is what was sent to her. I helped her order a new one & a few days later, she came back with another curtain rod! We tried it again & it happened a 3rd time! She said, "Forget it!" I guess the computer had its own idea of what the catalog item number was!

Submitted by Sue Corzine Powell

I worked at Sears in Hicksville in the coffee shop starting in 1973. I transferred to the TV/ record department and then to the hardware department, where I became a commissioned salesperson. (Tough job for a woman in the 70's; men didn't believe you knew anything about tools) I worked with Bob Mackey in that department. I then transferred to the Sporting Goods department, where, back then, we even sold small boats and canoes. I also ran the Bowling league for a few years in the bowling alley that was where Red Lobster is now. I met my husband there, and we're still together after 43 years. Like the old slogan is to say: "You can find everything at Sears"!

Submitted by Stacey Cannon Zaba, HHS Class of 1985 

I worked in the boys' department (1985) & worked my way up to assistant manager of the children’s department. I worked with Lillian Libutti until I got promoted & opened up Sears New Hyde Park. There are so many great memories of my years there.

Submitted by Diane Snyder

 I worked in the Men’s Dept all through 12th grade at Sears. My boss's first name was Bruce. That’s about all I remember. The pay was 1 dollar 75 cents an hour. I graduated from Hicksville in 1973.

Submitted by Joanne Geiger Kulier   Joanne Geiger Kulier

Hi. My name is Joanne Geiger Kulier, and I graduated in 1971. Sears was my first job at the age of 16. They called me a flyer because they sent me to whatever department they needed me. I remember working in the gift-wrapping department at Christmas, and the men would bring me big stuffed animals to wrap. Needless to say, that wasn’t too much fun, but I did the best I could. Good memories.

Submitted by Karen Brooks

Worked in the money room attached to customer service from 82 - 85.

Submitted by Ruth Geiger

 My dad worked there from when it opened until he retired in 1978. He started in the paint department (for 6 months) and then moved over to sporting goods. He was there the rest of the time. I remember one time after he retired, we were in the store and went to Sporting Goods for him to say hello to the guys still working there. One of the sales guys said he had a customer looking for fishing gear and what my dad would recommend. My dad went over to the shelves and picked up a rod, reel, lures, and line. Everything that he would need to set this guy up. He said, “Here, this is what he wants”. So even after he wasn’t working there anymore, he was still working there. Once there was a bad snowstorm (remember them?), and everything was closing early. My father had not taken his car to work that day, so I had to go and pick him up. As the store was closing and security was making sure everyone was leaving, people were trying to go in to shop. They were not pleased that the store was closing early. He was also a Santa at Christmas. I don’t remember how many years he did that (1? 2?) until he had an appendix attack on his way to work. 

Submitted by Patricia Hoffer

I was hired before the store opened in 1964. Whilst a senior at HHS (‘65), I worked part-time in the cafeteria, along with several classmates. John Whalen and Mr “Z” (managers) had the dubious pleasure of dealing with a group of lively teenagers during the evening shift. Following graduation, I worked for about a year in the Housewares Department before moving on to an office job at Hollywood Office Products on New South Rd. 

Submitted by Glenn Kingsley, Class of 1964

Glenn Kingsley

I graduated from HHS in 1964. I worked part-time for the first three years of college and full-time during my senior year, all in the paint department. After college, I went into their executive management program and spent 9 years as an executive. Those 9 years were interrupted by the Vietnam War, where I spent one year as an infantryman.

 Submitted by Pat Clancy Kriss

After graduating from high school in 1965, in addition to my full-time job at Singer in Syosset, I worked for the Christmas season at Sears for a year or two to make extra money--and I had the most delightful job--I was in the Holiday Gift Wrap section and worked with such happy customers, all excited about their purchases. It is a memory that returns each time I wrap a gift for someone!

 Submitted by Trina Fiedler London

I graduated in 1968. We moved to Pinetree Ave when I was 12. My mother never drove a car, but decided one day, as Sears was being built, to walk there and apply for a job. And so she did! She ran the lingerie department for many years, and I had never had so much underwear! She loved working there.

 Submitted by Stefanie Cedar Shames, HHS Class of 1977 Stefanie Cedar Shames

After graduating from HHS in 1977, I applied for a job at Sears in Hicksville. I don’t remember the application process, but I took a test in a back room with other people. One by one, someone came to the room for each of us. I was the last person remaining in the room, and a tall man in a suit came for me. He was the store manager, Joe Capuano, and they had a position for me in Customer Service and Gift Wrap. The gift wrap part amused my family because I was never able to wrap any presents, and my mom always had to do them for me. Doris (Mrs. B) taught me how to wrap gifts. The office was downstairs, across from Credit, and I worked the Customer Service Counter and Gift Wrap Window, answered phone calls, and filed paper sales receipts. Before Christmas, I would work upstairs helping wrap gifts with the temporary workers, and people would line up in front of me with unusually shaped items because of my well-developed gift-wrapping skills. 

I was 17 when I started working at Sears, and I remember buying a new, pretty spaghetti-strap dress that I wore to work. Then, I found myself in Mr. Capuano's office, where I was told that I looked like a "stewardess" and needed to dress more professionally for work. Even now, I always err on the side of professional dress. That was a great life lesson for my future employment life.

When I got paid, I went to the candy counter and bought those delicious nonpareils. And I remember we had a nice discount that my parents were even able to use when purchasing appliances. I always enjoyed my job, and when the blue laws sunset, we had the option of whether or not to work on Sundays. I would work and would make time and a half. Sometimes, we would get holiday pay, and if we worked, sometimes it paid double time and a half.

I had a lot of friends from HHS who also worked at Sears. I lived in Levittown and attended Island Trees before moving to Hicksville. Although it wasn't far, it seemed like it was to teens who didn't drive, and I lost touch with my friends. One payday, I saw my childhood friend standing in line to cash her check. There she was, working in the Infants department! We were able to reconnect and are still friends today.

We all became friends and family. When our department manager, Mr. DelRosso, passed away, we all went to the funeral at St. Ignatius. But we also made sure to have fun. One of my fondest memories is of the Sears parties. We would go out after work and dance; on other nights, we would even meet at discos to dance. I left Long Island many years ago and remember watching David Letterman. He received a letter from someone telling him to visit her while she worked at the Sears in Hicksville. Seeing David Letterman and his camera crew walk through Sears brought back great memories. 

Submitted by Robert D'Amico, HHS Class of 1978

Robert DAmico

I first worked at the Sears store in Hicksville during the 1977 Holiday season in the Hardware Department (Division 9 for all of you who remember). It was a fantastic experience; I learned a lot and learned about the wide variety of products we sold.

Then, around March of 1978, my accounting teacher at Hicksville High School, Mr. Green, approached me about a position available in the credit department. I jumped at the chance, got the job, and stayed there throughout college. I learned how to run and read credit reports in the credit department. When someone was over their charge limit on their Sears card or had some delinquency, a “-1” would appear on the register, indicating to the cashier that they needed to call us for approval. Some of those charges were big-ticket items like carpeting (Division 37) or appliances (Division 64).

I gradually got to a point where I had the authority to approve up to $2,000, which is not bad for a kid going through college! The job's hardest part was telling someone they were being denied because of their credit history or lack thereof. Those were difficult discussions for both the customer and the salesperson who was not going to get the commission.

The best part of the job was the people. We were a family in the credit department. We had a ball working there and socialized after work. I remember many nights at My Pie and Nathan’s across the street in Mid-Island Plaza or other local hangouts around the center of Hicksville. To this day, over 40 years later, some of my best and longest friendships made in the Sears credit department have stood the test of time. We’ve kept in touch all these years, attending weddings, their children’s weddings, and other events. I consider myself very lucky to have started my working life at Sears in Hicksville. Not only could you find just about anything you needed (and get a discount), you could find the best of friends.

history.hicksvillelibrary.orgyearbooks1977.pdfSubmitted by Wendy Girnis, HHS Class of 1977

I started working at Sears in the Fall of 1977. I was in my freshman year at SUNY Farmingdale.  I started as a cashier in the Hardware Department.  I loved working there.  The guys I worked with were awesome.  I remember some of their names still.  There was Milan Tomich, who talked about growing up in Yugoslavia.  There was Dan Henchy, who was very serious about tools.  One of the guys, whose last name began with an A,  sold horse manure on the side, Bob Mackey who always had a smile and was always going out of his way to help a customer, and Tom Mair, who actually delivered his child at home because his wife's labor was so fast.  There were the security guys who were always amazing at catching shoplifters, especially in Hardware. I remember being allowed to go up to the catwalk to see how they were able to spot them.

Then there were the friends we made.  Those who would get together at the Knight Club or Summertimes after work on a Friday night, dance until 4 am, stop at a diner for food, and miraculously make it into work early Saturday morning.  Then we'd do it all again on Saturday night.  Those were the days of endless energy.

I remember joining the Sears Bowling League.  We bowled at MId-Island Bowl on a weeknight until midnight and got to work or school on time the next day.   It was a chance to get together with people from other departments you usually didn't see.  At the end of the season, there was an awards dinner, and trophies were passed out.  I was never the best bowler, but that was never held against me.  We were just there to have a good time.

In 1982 or 1983, I was working in TVs and Stereos, and we had a blizzard.  Long Island got at least 2 feet of snow, and the roads were barely passable.  I got a call asking if I could come in because the store was open, and many employees couldn't.  Well, of course, I said, "yes".  I made it after digging my 1969 Delta 88 out of a snow drift and driving to work, which was an experience in and of itself. I was one of a handful of employees who showed up.  I worked in every department that day, including candy and the cafeteria.  I actually excelled in making buttered Kaiser rolls.  Honestly, I have no idea why they were open.  There were very few customers. 

By 1982, I was in TVs and Stereos.  I loved working in that department.  I excelled at selling service contracts and went to every awards dinner at the Maine Maid Inn, even getting food poisoning once because of bad lobster tails, but that's a whole other story.  I left Sears at the very beginning of 1984 after getting a full-time job at Harris Corp in Syosset.  I will never forget my Sears experience. It taught me about hard work, responsibility, patience, and customer service.  Sadly, Sears is no longer standing.  Today's kids won't have the experience of working for a great company that produced so many great memories. 

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