What Did That Building Used To Be? - Babyland

Wednesday, December 4, 2002 - by Harmon Jolley
Babyland was at 1704 McCallie Ave. Click to enlarge.
Babyland was at 1704 McCallie Ave. Click to enlarge.

Recently, I came across a photo of a business that I recall visiting once as a child during the holiday shopping season. It was the Babyland/Enchantment Shop, located at 1704 McCallie Avenue.

They featured children’s clothing and toys, some of which are visible in the picture, as well as a diaper service. The years that it was in business – from 1947 to 1961 – parallel the “Baby Boom,” which created demand for all products and services relating to the younger generation.

Babyland and Diaper Supply Service opened their new building on March 24, 1947. In an advertisement, they offered $100 cash or $125 in diaper service to the winner of a naming contest for the diaper side of the business. Apparently, the name, “Di-Dee Diaper Service,” was the winning entry, as this appears in city directories.

Babyland featured infants’ and children’s clothing. Opening day specials included day gowns for $1.95 and spring dresses for $2.95.

The Enchantment Shop was at the same address. I recall that the store had a small stage and seating area, which allowed the owner to host promotional events to sell the latest fashions and playthings. I believe that they fastened each item to a clothesline reel, and moved them into view while a narrator introduced the products. I don’t believe that we bought anything; possibly our one visit was before the really cool toys of the 1960’s – Mattel’s Thingmaker and Vacu-Form, for instance – came out.

Babyland was featured in the pictorial history book, Chattanooga Yesterday and Today, Volume One, by Paul Hiener. Today, a florist is located in the same building.

If you recall any other facts about the Babyland/Enchantment Shop, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@signaldata.net.

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