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From Stephenson Music Company to ‘The Price is Right’

Stephenson Music Company had a long history of operation in Raleigh. Starting out downtown in 1907, it was a variety store specializing in musical instruments. The postcard above dates from the 1950s when the store was located in Cameron Village.

The sender of the postcard was James T. Stephenson. Was James the owner/proprietor of Stephenson Music Company? Maybe someone out there can solve the mystery.

A 1940s performance by Stan Kenton broadcast over WRAL radio

Like so many businesses during the post-war era, it relocated away from downtown as America moved outward toward the suburbs. The first move was to Cameron Village in the 1950s.

At some point later, Stephenson Music Company was located in Crabtree Valley Mall, according to a 1978 Music Trades magazine.

The addressee is “Christmas Showcase”, The Price is Right. The Christmas Showcase was a special feature of the Home Viewer Showcase, which allowed people to submit postcards guessing the combined total retail price of the featured items. The episode above is from 1957, the year in which the sender submitted his bid to win it all. I can’t locate what the winning bid was, but several YouTube commenters are pretty close to what Mr. Stephenson guessed the actual retail price was.

As interesting as this find is, it leaves me with many questions:

  • Was James T. Stephenson the proprietor of Stephenson Music Company?
  • When did Stephenson Music leave Cameron Village for Crabtree Valley Mall?
  • What was the winning bid for the 1957 Christmas Showcase?
  • When did Stephenson Music Company cease operations?

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