Nothing like the Post and Nickel.
It smelled woodsy. Like antiques and new leather. And expensive men’s cologne.
“Like new clothes …” rhapsodized Rob Busson.
It’s been a few years since Rob was a regular Post and Nickel shopper — since we went to high school together in the early ’90s. But news that the store’s last Omaha location at 132nd Street and West Center Road was closing still struck him as sad.
When we were teenagers, there was nothing else in Omaha like the Post and Nickel stores.
There still isn’t anything quite like it.
Omaha is a more fashionable city now, with trendy, independent clothing boutiques in every other shopping center — and, especially since Von Maur came to town, you can find pricey designer jeans and European shoes at the mall.
But I can’t think of another store, outside of chains like Abercrombie & Fitch and Old Navy, that captures a complete aesthetic like the Post and Nickel does.
The stores always had a distinct look (and smell) and personality, a whole vibe.
Even though the décor is Little-House-on-the-Prairie chic — with antique farm equipment, exposed wood and bricks, and stained glass — the Hitchin’ Post always felt like a big-city shop.
The high-plains look and the rustic name don’t match the merchandise now, but they reflect the era when the stores were born.
Murray Fredrickson, a Post and Nickel employee since 1972, opened the West Center location with a partner in 1981.
“There was hardly anything out here,” he said. “This was pretty much the edge of town.”
But he and his business partner believed that the city would continue to grow west, and they felt lucky to find a corner lot on West Center Road. (The CVS pharmacy that’s replacing the Post and Nickel must feel the same way.)
Many of the current employees have been with Murray since the store opened. “We’re like a family,” he said.
In the ’70s, the Post and Nickel stores were the place to find trendy designer clothing.
When my parents came into Omaha for a rare date night in 1977 — to see “Star Wars” for the first time — my mom remembers going to the Post and Nickel to buy a special dress.
The store was full of Gunne Sax dresses from San Francisco then, part of the Holly Hobbie-like prairie-revival trend. My mom bought a black printed peasant dress for almost $70, a head-spinning amount at the time, and she wore it for every anniversary and special event for years after.
She thought she was it in that dress.
When I started going to the Post and Nickel in the ’80s, it was still the it place to shop.
Rob, the most fashionable kid at our high school by a country mile, remembers getting all his favorite clothes at the Post and Nickel, usually at the long-closed 72nd Street location. (The one with the awesome shoe basement.)
A Donna Karan coat, Perry Ellis cardigans, “a Tommy Hilfiger suit before anybody had a Tommy Hilfiger suit,” a pair of paisley topsiders by Zodiac “that were my favorite shoes ever…”
Rob still can’t throw those clothes away. Other stuff gets weeded out, but the Post and Nickel stuff is just too good.
Post and Nickel stuff is almost better because you bought it there — because you remember the experience of shopping, that feeling that you were partaking in something exclusive and extra cool.
I always loved going to the Post and Nickel, even though I never felt comfortable there. I felt like I was trespassing; I was sure that the impeccably groomed salespeople knew that I couldn’t afford or probably fit into anything in the store.
High-fashion clothes come in high-fashion sizes.
My friend Cathy, who is very beautiful and also very, very tall, jokes that when she walks into the Post and Nickel, she self-consciously feels the need to announce, “I’m just here for the shoes.”
As a great big, clumsy — and also poor — teenager, I always felt like I needed to announce, “I swear I’m not a shoplifter.”
But that never stopped me from going in, and, after I got a real job, from buying a few pairs of really cool shoes.
The awesome thing about buying shoes at the Post and Nickel — besides the unique selection — was that shoes would stay on the clearance shelf, being steadily marked down, for years. You could say, “Sorry, $80 Campers, I’m coming back in four years to buy you for $9.90.”
The Post and Nickel will still be around, even after the West Center store closes. The Lincoln location remains open — and there’s talk of the Lincoln team relocating the Omaha store.
But it won’t be quite the same. For one thing, longtime owner/buyer Murray Fredrickson won’t be a part of the new store. He’s taking a well-earned break.
For another, it’d be tough to match the artsy, woodsy, careworn vibe of the current store.
I’m not sure you can recreate 30 years of history.
And a new store won’t have that intoxicating Post and Nickel smell.