Editor's note: This is the 194th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON - On Leap Day in 1916 - Thursday, Feb. 29 - a major topic of local conversation was the big sale the city's downtown retailers were staging that day. The newspapers had been reporting on the coming sale for weeks, and for days the papers had been filled with ads by merchants, large and small, promoting the event.
"BIGGEST SHOPPING DAY IN HISTORY OF THE CITY FORECAST" read the front-page headline in that morning's edition of The Herald-Dispatch. Inside, the paper was stuffed with ads for everything from 80-cent bedspreads to $1 rocking chairs and men's neckties three for $1. One enterprising grocer offered five pounds of coffee for $1.
The Huntington Businessman's Association and the Huntington Chamber of Commerce joined forces to sponsor the big sale, hoping to attract shoppers from throughout the Tri-State. The strategy worked, with stores all but overwhelmed by bargain-hunting shoppers.
Chamber President C. P. Snow toured several stores that morning and told reporters he felt assured that "the day would be annual celebration of much weight hereafter."
Snow's optimistic prediction was right on target. Over the years, Dollar Day would become a Huntington tradition, with its twice-a-year sales - each February and August - attracting crowds of shoppers. The World War II years temporarily curtailed the sales, but with the war's end the sales resumed and became as successful as ever, with eager shoppers lining up on Dollar Day morning, waiting on the downtown store doors to open.
The 1970s saw more than 60 businesses participating in Dollar Day sales. But the 1980 opening of the Huntington Mall ultimately caused many downtown stores to close their doors, and Dollar Day, though it continued, became only a faint echo of the mammoth events of yesteryear.
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