Switz's was a craft and variety store that Mark R. Switz opened in 1954 in the North Plaza on Route 11 and South Bay Road in North Syracuse, NY. In 1984 Switz's moved across South Bay Road into a larger castle-style building.
Switz's was a great store to shop in all year long, but was most popular around Halloween season. It had a large assortment of Halloween costumes and decorations, as well as some of the best Halloween displays of any store in the Syracuse area. For many years, a "Count" would sit in an upright coffin passing out candy to children (and scaring them senseless). He was eventually replaced by the 14 foot tall, 1600 pound mechanical "Oscar". Thanks to Cortney Pitcher for the first photo, the second is from a shirt a friend of mine got from the store.
Below are a couple of scans of ads from the late 1980s from a magazine called "Especially For Crafters" that Switz's used to give out for free. Bob Judd from the Berford site sent these to me (I'd give him a link but last time I checked his site was down).
Switz's saw a sharp decline in business in the early 1990s and moved to the Marketplace Mall in May of 1993. By July of 1993, Mark R. Switz's grandson, Bert Schmidt Jr, announced that Switz's was filing for bankruptcy and would soon be closing for good. In my opinion, there has yet to be a store in the Syracuse area that has been able to replace Switz's, or offer the same kind of products or atmosphere. There still is no place comparable to go during Halloween season. Oscar will be sorely missed. Rumor has it that he had been auctioned off for $7000 in 1994 and is now sitting in someone's garage in Central New York.
The following photo of the final Switz's storefront, in Marketplace Mall, was taken by Mike Hepp:
Here are a couple of pictures taken from one of my video tapes from 1999. These show the castle-style building, which is now owned by CXtec.
The following commercials originally aired, from left to right, in 1985, 1987, 1987, 1988 and 1990:
Click here to see
photos from my visit to CXtec in 2016, including some old Switz's pictures and a
cardboard cutout of Oscar.
Click on the links below to view some newspaper articles about Switz's.
13, 1984 - Switz ready to move into new variety store
October 15, 1987 - Switz's Halloween Coloring Contest
April 13, 1993 - Switz's to Move to Cicero, Streamline
July 30, 1993 - Switz's seeks protection, will close in weeks
October 31, 2007 - Remembering Switz's Variety Store - Part 1 (Sent in by Cortney Pitcher, who also wrote the article)
October 31, 2007 - Remembering Switz's Variety Store - Part 2
Click here to buy some Switz's merchandise.
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