Sarah Elvins lives in Winnipeg, where she is an assistant professor in American history at the University of Manitoba.
Between the two world wars, the retail world experienced tremendous changes. New forms of competition, expanded networks of communication and transportation, and the proliferation of manufactured goods posed challenges to department store and small shopkeeper alike. In western New York, and in Buffalo and Rochester in particular, retailers were a crucial part of urban life, acting as cultural brokers and civic leaders. They were also cultivators of area pride.