The History of Department Stores

Under the clock: Let's talk



Almost every city had one department store with a big corner clock where people met, perhaps to talk over the events of the day. Do you have opinions about department stores, shopping, about the "olden days" -- or about stores now? How has your city changed since the days when there were one, two, maybe three department stores downtown? Did you used to "meet under the clock?"

Authors Jan Whitaker (JW) and Michael Lisicky (ML) will try to answer your questions ABOUT DEPARTMENT STORES (sorry, not other kinds of stores). On Facebook check out the group called The Golden Age of the Department Store.


Click and type in a question or comment

Years ago, many department stores sponsored parades to mark the start of the holiday season. They announced to their communities that on the next business day, the store would be decorated and stocked with holiday merchandise, the mechanical display windows would be able to be enjoyed, and Santa would be ready for the children. They created a magical atmosphere for the kids and even the adults. When did the stores begin to start having the parades? When did most of them end?
Are there any notable parades that really stand out? It seems like this is a subject that is not covered well in some of the department store histories I have read. -- As department stores grew in size and stature, they became responsible for upholding numerous local traditions that entertained customers and built loyalty. With the exception of Eatons Toronto Santa Claus parade, many of the big American holiday parades came into full swing by the mid to late 1920s. Leading the way was Gimbels in Philadelphia (1920) which was followed by Hudson's, Macy's, Bamberger's, etc. But by the 1950s, holiday parades, sponsored by department stores, could be found in Trenton, Reading, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Houston, etc. These parades usually concluded with Santa either walking into the department store, sometimes by fire ladder, in front of thousands of attendees. But these smaller parades were costly. Materials, labor costs, and permits were expensive and as downtowns lost their luster by the late 1960s, many stores chose to spend their advertising budgets elsewhere. In addition, television brought the major parades such as Macy's and Hudson's directly into living rooms. In comparison, local parades seemed almost 'dinky' and the audiences dwindled in size. But make no mistake, once a department store cancelled an expensive tradition, people became irate, as if something was stolen from them. The average person had no idea what type of burden these events placed on a department store's bottom line. There is no one book specifically about department store parades but a number of books cover these parades quite well, including some of my own! There are numerous books on the Macy's parade but I love William L. Bird's book, Holidays on Display. That should suffice. -- ML

Michael has summed it up well and I agree that Holidays on Display is an excellent book, very well illustrated. Usually we think of holiday parades as being outdoors, but Wanamaker stores held them indoors in the teens, according to William Leach in his classic book Land of Desire. He says that the Wanamaker stores had Christmas parades every day at 10:30 when the lights were turned off and a uniformed brass band of employees paraded with storybook characters -- then Santa Claus appeared carried by four Eskimos to Santa Town. This sounds truly magical to me. -- JW

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Do you have any photos or information regarding the Mathews Department Store at 394 Fulton Street, Brooklyn NY 11201? It was converted into the Metropolitan Theater in 1918 and again into the current home of The Brooklyn Tabernacle. -- I don't have an image but there is currently a postcard of the store on e-Bay. The store went into bankruptcy in 1913 and failed in 1915, at which time its full name was A. D. Matthews' Sons. -- JW

Azel Dennis Matthews founded his dry goods business in 1837 which, over the next 78 years, developed into one of Brooklyn's largest emporiums. Matthews was later joined in business by his two sons and constantly expanded the store and moved, along with Wechsler & Abraham, to the new Fulton Street shopping corridor. The store featured "Daily Delivery to Long Island" and special promotions as Clover Day sales (no relation to Philadelphia's Strawbridge & Clothier!) and S&H Green Stamps. Azel passed away in 1900 but his store, that employed upwards of 1000 workers, suffered from high debt and estate issues. By 1913, the store faced liquidation but carried forward under new owners. Its 78th anniversary in April 1915 promised a celebration "with due dignity" but just two months later it entered bankruptcy protection. In late December 1915, a bankruptcy trustee ordered an immediate liquidation of the large store. One year later, the building housed a branch of a Georges clothing store but was transformed into Loews Metropolitan Theatre, the largest motion picture house in the world, in September 1918. -- ML

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Just want to thank Mr. Lisicky for writing back to tell me about the artist at Westview mall
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What American department stores were characterized by providing a quality shopping experience? By this I mean stores which sold good quality merchandise, special tea rooms or restaurants, had quality architectural ambiance, and promoted special holiday traditions? Some store which come to my mind are Marshall Fields, Hudson's, John Wanamaker, and Higbees. Are there any others you or Michael can add? -- This might sound like a cop-out but I think that applies to most of the department stores of the 20th century, before the 1980s (roughly). Certainly every major city, smaller city, and even many smaller towns had department stores that people still remember fondly for their merchandise, service, and special events. Having grown up in St. Louis I would say that all three of the big stores -- Famous-Barr; Stix, Baer & Fuller; and Scruggs, Vandervoort & Barney -- provided a quality shopping experience. -- JW
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
WHEN WAS ARNOLD CONSTABLE BUILT ON STATE AND MONTGOMERY STS IN TRENTON NJ? WHAT BUILDINGS WERE TORN DOWN? -- On November 11, 1954, Arnold Constable opened a 90,000 square foot store in downtown Trenton. The firm declared that it was the largest store in the city's shopping district. Eleanor Roosevelt cut the ribbon on opening day, a tradition that Mrs. Roosevelt carried out at other Arnold Constable locations. The new store, located at East State Street and Montgomery Street, replaced a vacant movie theater, the Wilkinson Building, and a series of small shops. In 1952, R.H. Macy purchased the plot of land for a possible Trenton branch but turned the lease over to Arnold Constable about a year later. Arnold Constable remained in Trenton until 1971. -- ML
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
High end dept. store in Boston, Massachusetts beginning with the letter P that closed in the late 60's or early 70's. I think it was near Park Street Station????? -- Of the 48 stores listed under "department stores" in the 1962 Boston city directory, only one begins with P and it is in Roslindale. Maybe you are thinking of Conrad & Chandler on Winter Street. -- JW
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Does anyone recall a small store that sold upscale clothing called Robert's or Mr. Robert's in Rhode Island around the 1970's. My Aunt Mary used to take us there and buy clothing for us. And where was it located? -- If I am correct that you are referring to a children's clothing store, and that it might have been in Providence, then you may mean Edith Robert's shop at 184 Wayland Av. -- JW

Thanks! My sister-in-law lives around wayland square and I sensed I recognized the place. It must have been Edith Roberts store at 184 wayland ave. Thanks so much for clearing up this mystery for me! QU

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I came across a picture of Albany, NY's shopping district. The photo was dated 1956. I noticed a Robinson's and a Leed's department store in the photo. I am certain that the Robinson's store isn't related to the one in California. I have been having trouble finding information on both of the stores in Albany, NY. Would you be able to help me? -- Neither store is listed under Department Stores in the 1960 Albany City Directory. Among the stores that are listed are John G. Myers and W. M. Whitner & Co., both on North Pearl. I did find Robinson's Women's & Children's Wearing Apparel, at 57 N Pearl, listed under Women's & Children's Clothing, but Leed's was not there. -- JW
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Who owned the Plymouth retail stores in NYC? -- Not being a lawyer I'm out of my element on this one, but I'm guessing you are referring to what was once known as Bonwit-Plymouth Stores, Inc., but had many name changes subsequently, one (and maybe the last) being Allied-Stores-East, Inc. -- JW
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Did Macy's Herald Square store ever have a notable tea room or restaurant? If so are they still in business? It seems like The Walnut Room at Marshall Fields/Macy's, Crystal Tea Room at Wanamakers, Silver Grill at Higbees, and the Birdcage at Lord & Taylor among many others are held in high esteem by customers who remember them. I have never really heard anything about the huge Macy's flagship. Am I missing something? Thanks, Dave -- You have named some of the best known and loved tea room restaurants in American department stores, and you are correct in thinking that Macy's has not been known for its restaurants. For much of its history it has been a store that emphasized low prices, thanks in part to the lack of expensive frills such as fancy restaurants (which typically have lost money). In the last few years it has upgraded its food service but it has no tradition of fond customer memories to build upon, plus the era of the department store restaurant is mostly in the past, so I don't know how well it has done. -- JW
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I am trying to find information on some of the first black women to become sales women in department stores, particularly in the South in the 1960's. Do you have any names? Or stories about any of these women. Thank you. -- You should look at the 1971 book titled The Negro in the Department Store Industry. Prior to WWII Black women were hired only as elevator operators or backroom personnel. During the war there was a severe personnel shortage and some Black women were hired in Northern department stores to work as saleswomen during the Christmas rush -- often only at the urging of the Urban League. The first saleswoman (one) hired by a large store that I have seen referenced in a newspaper article was in 1950, in Albany NY. In 1952 a downtown department store hired the first Black full-time, permanent saleswoman. By the late 1950s there were said to be quite a few Black saleswomen in NYC stores, but for most of the country these gains came in the early 1960s as stores' eating facilities were also integrated -- after protests. In the South, two of Wilmington NC's largest department stores were said to hire Black saleswomen in 1963, and Leggett's in Lynchburg VA hired its first two Black saleswomen in 1961. I know of no personal stories or accounts, but at Leggett's the women's names were Amanda Spencer and Edith Chambers, both married. -- JW
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I am looking for information about departments that used to be in department stores, but have gone the way of the dinosaur...so many articles reference how there were 23 departments, 40 departments, etc. -- but so far I have not found any kind of list. -- If you go to Bruce Kopytek's wonderfully thorough website thedepartmentstoremuseum.org and you click on individual stores you will see many listings of departments, floor by floor. Of course each store has a somewhat different mix of departments, and they changed over time. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wanamaker is said to have been the first to install a pneumatic tube system in 1879. Was it a cash rail system invented by Lamson? Or was it a pneumatic tube system? Was it installed in the 1877 Grand Depot? Finally the Grand Depot was not a department store when it opened in 1877 but more of a of men's shop. When did it become a full-fledged department store? -- The Lamson Cash Carrier Co. was formed in 1881 and put its first carrier on the market that year, so it could not have been used in the Grand Depot from the start. John Wanamaker began expanding lines in that store a year after it opened. In 1877 he added some women's clothing and shoes and by 1879 it was a full department store. -- JW

According to corporate records, Wanamaker installed the first department store pneumatic tube system in 1880. But as I've learned, corporate historical records are not always accurate. -- ML

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
There was a store in Detroit, Mich,(Delray)-they sold furniture & area rugs among other things....Trying to think of name-believe it was on a corner -in the 50's & probably sooner & latter in the 60's-----thought it started with the letter "K"? -- (I don't know what Delray is.) Probably numerous stores sold furniture and area rugs, so I can't help you with that. As for department stores starting with K, there was Kern's (the Ernst Kern Co.) located at Woodward & Gratiot. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I keep finding conflicting information about department stores in Boston during the 1880s. For example, Jordan Marsh is vaguely referenced as having been formed after the American Revolution and then eventually 'departmentalized'. Do you have anymore details about that? Knowing other 'greats' from the 1880s would be really helpful too. Thank you so much. -- I can assure you that Jordan Marsh does not date back to the Revolutionary War era but it is usually referenced as one of America’s first department stores. The term “department stores” is a somewhat loosely based definition but implies a vast variety of merchandise, usually spread over multiple floors, that promoted then-revolutionary business practices such as fixed prices and satisfaction guarantees. It followed a concept of “everything for everybody under one roof,” though the term “everybody” is subject to interpretation. Jordan Marsh traces it roots back to 1851 and much of its centennial advertising centered on a Revolutionary War “observer” character. That may have given you some confusion. But many, many other Boston retailers deserve mention and study. You can best learn who they are and their stories at http://shoppingdaysinretroboston.blogspot.com/2011/03/conrad-chandlers-story-of-1958-retro.html. -- ML
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In medium to larger sized American cities, how many branch stores did it take to destroy the business at the downtown flagship store? Before the shopping malls became popular, it seems many branches were smaller and sold a limited selection of goods, seemingly not posing a huge threat to the main store. As the regional malls became popular and anchor stores larger, the flagships suffered and ultimately closed. I read in an interview with a member of the Lazarus family who stated the downtown flagship with one branch store was great, but as more branches were added, sales were negatively impacted not only downtown, but at other branches. -- This is a much bigger issue than simple suburban overbuilding. In most cases, department stores had to move to the suburbs because that's where the customer moved. It was easier and safer to shop in the suburbs, at least according to perceptions, and you could take your packages home in your own car. The American dream was based on post-war suburban expansion and optimism. Downtown stores peaked around 1955, if I had to give a year. One million square feet, operated by a private family, in a rambling sixty year old building, in a town that closes up at 6pm, was not a recipe for the future. Lazarus' answer could have worked for Columbus, but it wouldn't have succeeded in Detroit or Newark. (Lazarus had very little competition in Columbus.) Every city had its own economic and social reasons for change and so did every store. And branch stores became bigger as the downtown stores became smaller and suburban competition increased. -- ML

Good question, but I agree with Michael's analysis and can only add that in many cities postwar suburban sprawl was so extensive that a trip to downtown became quite a trek, not to mention parking problems when you got there. Downtown stores developed and grew in the era of public transportation; private transportation, i.e., cars, were a problem. Also, the downtown stores -- and downtown generally -- often became shabby looking in comparison to the new suburban stores. And note that it wasn't just shoppers leaving the city; big employers were also moving to corporate and industrial parks on the outskirts so there were fewer daytime shoppers in city centers. -- JW

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Does anyone remember the Palais Royal dept. store on Main st. in Houston TX and the manager Mr. Poulis? He looked like Cary Grant. -- As far as I can determine, the Palais Royal was a women's clothing store. It was located at 706 Main Street. Beyond that, I can't find any information. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Any info on Great Eastern Mills? The Mills part was dropped at some point. Location was Route 46 in Totowa NJ. My husband and I shopped there early in our marriage when we lived in West Paterson (now Woodland Park). -- Great Eastern Mills was begun in Paramus NJ in 1956. It was a discount store with general merchandise such as we still have today and was part of a retailing trend of the time in which discount stores located in suburbs and often in old mill buildings, with large parking areas and evening hours, began to become significant retailers. They are not strictly speaking department stores, and in fact they seriously undermined traditional department stores. To offer low prices they cut out fancy buildings, services, and all the extras that department stores were known for. Great Eastern Mills was acquired by Diana Stores in 1962, which became part of another corporation in 1969. By 1975 there were 14 Great Eastern stores: 4 in NJ, 7 in NY, and 3 in GA. The NJ stores were shuttered that year, but I am uncertain whether the others were closed at the same time. -- JW

Great Eastern Mills operated almost entirely as a group of leased departments grouped together under one unified store name. Its linen department was incorporated under the business name Great Eastern Linens. When then-owner Daylin Corporation filed for bankruptcy in 1975 and closed a number of its stores, including Great Eastern Mills, the linen department went into business for itself and operated its own stores under the name Linens n Things. -- ML

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Were there any department stores managed by women around 1920 in the South? -- I am not aware of any major stores managed by women, though there may have been some small town stores, but even then I am doubtful. It was quite rare throughout the 20th century for women to rise to top management positions in department stores. Exceptions would be Beatrice Fox Auerbach who ran G. Fox in Hartford CT and Dorothy Shaver of Lord & Taylor in NY. Shaver was known for her promotion of American dress designers in the Depression such as Muriel King, Adele Simpson, Elizabeth Hawes, Clare Potter, Helen Cookman, Vera Maxwell, and Sally Victor. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In the late sixties I shopped at Macy's in herald square and bought mod shoes but can't remember the brand I bought. -- Tough question! Probably only a shoe buyer from that time could say what they might have been. -- JW

If you are really determined to find what brand of shoe you are searching, you could narrow down the date, including month if possible, and plop yourself in front of the New York Times Archives and read the advertisements. Your local library might very well have microfilm of the Times and/or your local library/educational institution may have it accessible through an electronic database. Just turn off/down the TV. During this time period you are searching, you will get ads and not just text and article citations. It can a fun and painstaking way to find answers sometimes. Always a good way to start any modern historical search, and its index is comprehensive and invaluable. A quick search on my end shows possibly 4500 shoe display ads for “Macy’s shoes” during the 1960s alone. -- ML

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My Mother has some fond memories of the wonderful bean soup served at the Block's Department store in Indianapolis, IN one day of the week. Does anyone have access to that original recipe? We would surely appreciate it if someone who has it would share it with us. THANKS...Mike -- It's possible you might be able to find a recipe if you have access to the Indianapolis Star online (I don't), but you need to search under the store's full name William H. Block. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A local theme park has a kiddy carousel that was used as a traveling carnival ride throughout the United States and was also used during each Christmas season from 1922-1980 by Wanamaker Department Store in Philadelphia. I have been searching the internet to verify this statement and possibly locate a photo. -- The Wanamaker store in Philadelphia was known for its monorail ride for children during the holidays. I don't know of a carousel, but it strikes me that one virtue of the monorail is that it ran on the ceiling of the toy department and did not take up valuable merchandise space as would a carousel. You might contact the Historical Society of Philadelphia. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wilson's Department Store in Greenfield MA is the only local department store I know of in New England. I know there is Nordstrom, Von Maur, Belk, Bon Ton. Would you know of any others in the country that are still open? JT -- There are some regional chain department stores (such as Boscov, Bergner's, Dillard's), but if by local you mean a single store that is privately owned, I do not know of any. -- JW

The two stores that come to mind when I think of Wilsons that are somewhat similar and require visits are Dunham’s in Wellsboro, PA and Weaver’s in Lawrence, KS. If I want to go big time, I’ll think of Hall’s in Kansas City. But if I really want to step back in time, I’ll go to Boscov’s (Boston Store) in Wilkes-Barre, PA. -- ML

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I recently acquired a vintage credit card from Gladdings of Providence, RI. It says "since 1766" on it. Was the store really that old and can you give some background on it? Did they have some connection with Shepards department store later on? -- It’s difficult to trace just how old Gladding’s was. A Providence Gazette article from September 13, 1766 advertised a “well-established shop at the Signs of the Bunch of Grapes.” For over 200 years, Gladding’s used its signature “Bunch of Grapes” symbol frequently in its advertising. It wasn’t until 1805 or 1807 when George W. Gladding assumed ownership of the business. Through a series of changing partnerships, the Gladding family left the store in 1880 though the Gladding name was retained. Gladding’s was long regarded as America’s oldest store and was primarily a fine specialty apparel store that also sold gifts, linens, and travel merchandise. It was said that Gladding’s was “where not only the clerks, but the customers were courteous.” Gladding’s was a longtime member of the Frederick Atkins, Inc. merchandising and research organization and operated three branch stores at Wayland Square (1947), Garden City (1957), and Westerly (1969). In 1968, Howard N. Feist purchased Gladding’s and subsequently bought the neighboring Shepard Co. department store in 1970. (Feist had also purchased Worcester-based Denholm’s in 1970.) Feist took on incredible debt with his purchase of the three fading retailers. In the summer of 1973, store shelves became noticeably bare and large sections of both stores were empty. Fall merchandise had not been properly ordered. By October, the combined company filed for bankruptcy protection and both Shepard’s and Gladding’s closed for good in January 1974. -- ML
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi there. I have a metal cylinder shaped container about the same size as a shotgun shell that has a picture of a building and under the building it says - Our Home. At the top of the building picture it says -PERKINS DRY GOODS CO. DALLAS. I was just wondering if you could give me any type of info on the store or the item itself. I have had no luck at all and would appreciate any that you may have. Sincerely, L. Johnson -- Perkins Dry Goods began in 1898 as a small dry goods store in Kaufman TX founded by two brothers, Samuel B. and J. J. Perkins; in 1915 it moved its wholesale arm to Dallas and the two brothers split up the retail stores. In 1948, when Samuel Perkins died, the company ran 12 stores in Texas and Oklahoma. As far as I know it never developed into a traditional department store. How long it stayed in business I don't know. I'm not sure what the item you found is, probably some sort of souvenir trinket given out as part of an anniversary celebration. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I recently found a coin from JC Penney's with a value of & 5.00 on it. It's an old one. I was curious if it was worth anything. -- I would not think it would have much value but a coin dealer would be the best authority on that question. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I am trying to locate any information or history about a furniture store in the 1920s/30s/40s on 5th Avenue in Manhattan called "Stewarts" or "Stewerts" or "Stuarts"? Do you know anything about this? It was supposedly very high end. -- I’m sorry but since this site centers on department store history, we do not research retailers outside of the department store industry. Check the New York Times archives for possible mentions or entries on these businesses. This database is usually available through your local library. Thank you for understanding. -- ML
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I am from Pittsburgh PA and as a child was fully aware of Kaufmann's, Gimbels & Joseph Horne's.....I wasn't aware of Rosenbaums which was downtown Pgh only (or was there a suburban outlet I do not know about?) Can you give any information about Rosenbaum's? I know that the main building was very close to the original Joseph Horne's main store, and that the building may have survived and been resurrected as an office building. Do you know what type of store they were? Who they catered to? -- The exact date of Rosenbaum’s origin tends to conflict within its company records but many sources point to 1867. Its main building was erected in 1915 and grew to 14 stories tall. In the late 1940s, Rosenbaum’s passed out of family hands and was acquired by National Department Stores. National operated Frank & Seder, another department store with a major downtown Pittsburgh presence. Rosenbaum’s, “A Step Ahead,” was located at Sixth Street and Liberty Avenue. It was more of a store more the “masses” than the “classes.” It was a complete, yet fairly promotional store. Rosenbaum’s days were numbered when its owner closed Frank & Seder in February 1959 and signaled their interest in exiting the department store business. Unable to find a buyer, Rosenbaum’s began its final liquidation sale on January 4, 1960. Though it billed itself as a “Tri-State Institution” and “Pittsburgh’s second oldest department store,” Rosenbaum’s operated just one location and stood for “honest values and fine merchandise.” -- ML
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Do you have any idea about what happened with the York clothing store that was located in South Jersey just outside of Philly?. I believe the main store was in Philadelphia. I worked there back in the early 70's and can find no trace of it anywhere. -- No, sorry, my specialty is limited to department stores. The number of clothing stores and shops is massive and an entirely separate research area. Just to give an idea, in Ridgewood NJ alone in the mid 1950s there were 40 women's clothing stores and 10 for men plus a few for children! -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jan: I was wondering if you or Michael could provide information on the Adler & Childs department store which was located at the Northeast corner of Main & Fourth Streets in downtown Dayton Ohio? When did the store go out of business? I have seen photographs of this corner in the 1940's with the store sporting an Art Deco styled 2 storey storefront. Any information you can provide would be appreciated. Apparently this is the least known of the 3 large downtown department store. Thanks, Dave -- Adler & Childs, popularly known as Adler's, was incorporated in 1895 and closed in 1950. Other department stores in Dayton around that time were Elder & Johnston, Rike-Kumler, and Johnston Shelton. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What is a Compactom and why does it have so many patens. -- I assume you are asking about patenTs. Never heard of a compactom before, but it is easy enough to find it on Google as an old-fashioned traveling trunk divided into compartments for clothing and accessories. I would guess there are a lot of patents because there are an infinite number of ways to divide up a box. I suppose department stores must have sold them once upon a time, although luggage was not a terribly successful department and many stores got rid of it at some point. -- JW

I equate compactoms more with 1920s era Australian furniture stores and than American department stores. Even in a nice broad generalized advertisement search, I have never seen a compactom promoted in an American department store advertisement. Perhaps the Australian relationship to the furniture piece required more than average patents? But Australia is not the most respectful to American copyright laws. Target Australia and Woolworths Australia are prime modern day examples of Australian retailers who have had no prior relationship with their American nameplates. -- ML

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I am looking for any information about my Great Grandfather's shoe store in Santa Fe New Mexico in the early 1900s. He was an Italian immigrant, Nicolas Igalo. He was a shoemaker and his shop was on San Francisco St. I don't know the name. Thank you -- You might try Ancestry.com. I think that is your best bet. Keep in mind that it's likely his shop had no name. I hope you will understand that we are kept busy answering questions about department stores and can't really do research for individuals about all kinds of stores and businesses from the past 150 years. Good luck in your searches. -- JW
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What store was on quackerbridge rd nj -- When? Where exactly? Trenton? So many possible answers to such a vague question. When the Quakerbridge Mall opened in 1976, Macy's, Bamberger's, and Hahne's were planning to be there. In 1989 Lord & Taylor moved in. Probably others. At anther mall on that road a Clover Store opened in 1978, one of Strawbridge & Clothier's low-price stores. -- JW

I think Jan hit all of the possible big stores around Lawrenceville NJ’s Quakerbridge Mall. However, you may be thinking more of Clover. Clover, not located in the mall, usually used Quakerbridge Rd. as its address. It was also the only Philadelphia-based Clover location in central New Jersey. -- ML

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi, I am trying to find out when the department stores started using paper bags with logos. I guess it was around the 1960s, but was not able to locate a reliable source so far. Any suggestions would be very welcome. Thanks! Katarzyna Cwiertka -- There is no definitive source to answer this that I know of, but as far as I can tell department stores (and specialty stores) introduced shopping bags ca. 1950 to discourage requests for store delivery. Some stores began to decorate the bags, such as Halle's in the late 1950s (a pink geranium), and Bloomingdale's in 1954 (a gloved hand, an umbrella, a rose, and a sheet of paper with a large red B on it). By 1963 Bloomingdale's was giving away 3 million bags a year. Decorated bags were becoming common in the early 1960s, but in the 1970s some stores eliminated them because of rising rates of shoplifting. Exhibitions of decorated shopping bags took place in the late 1970s and I believe the Smithsonian Institution had a collection of them. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Does anyone know when the Edgar A. Stevens store in Evanston, IL closed its doors? I bought a vintage coat that originated there and am trying to date it. Thanks very much! Also, I don't know if you've ever heard of it, but there was a family-owned department store called MOBUDS in the tiny town of South Houston, Texas. I believe it closed in the early sixties; we shopped there up from the mid-50s until about 1962 (I think), when we moved across town into Houston proper. I've never been able to find any reference to it online. -- I can find no trace of Edgar A. Stevens, basically a women's apparel store, after 1964 and I would doubt it was in business much longer than that given the decline of retailing downtown and the beginning of urban redevelopment activities. As for Mobud's, I can find no trace at all. -- JW
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I found what appears to be an old brass charge coin fob but it says compliments of THE W.E. MILLER CO. Winchester, IND. it also has return to address on opposite side No. 339 on it. Do you have any information on this store and with the word compliments on it, do you think it's legit? Thanks in advance! -- The W[illiam] E. Miller store was founded as a dry goods store in 1880 in Winchester. He died in 1916, and I don't know what the store's fate was after that. Charge account coins were common around that time and, even if the store continued beyond his death, I would guess the coin dated from before 1916. I can't see any reason why someone would fake it. -- JW
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hello again, In regards to the Danbury clothing line, the information I have on the sales receipt is Greene street, New York city. Thanks for looking into this. 619 -- Ok, that is important to know. When I thought you were looking for a store in Danbury CT, I noticed that there were many clothing workers in that city. I can easily imagine that there might have been a business with its production facilities in Danbury but its wholesaling done out of NYC since that's where buyers from stores all over the US went to acquire fashion merchandise. But beyond that, I don't know, as clothing production and wholesaling is pretty much outside my scope of knowledge. -- JW
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Was there a specific time period that Department Stores begin to differentiate themselves with merchandise and service in terms of the economic classes of their shoppers? Many larger cities had a department store(s) which catered to the "carriage trade", the middle class and the working class. I live near Cincinnati where the carriage trade shopped at Pogues or Mabley & Carew, the middle class shopper at Shillitos and the working class shopper at Mc Alpins or Alms & Dopke. It seems like the higher end department stores had to shift down to cater to a more middle class shopper in the 1970's. -- Not a simple question to answer! From the start in the 1800s, department stores were somewhat stratified in terms of which classes they aimed for. One big change that came along was the demise of many (but not all) of the "popular" rock-bottom bargain department stores of that era that were designed for lower-income shoppers. In the 1920s many department stores scaled up because of fierce competition. But, overall, they needed many, many customers, so most wanted to draw from as many social and economic classes as possible, and their departments reflected that, from the basement stores that had lower-priced merchandise to the custom dress salons that tried to lure high income customers. Department stores faced quite a challenge from small dress shops that offered very individualized and personalized service to affluent customers. Many wealthy people were said to avoid department stores because they were viewed as for the masses, and displaying mass taste, with multiples of every style. On the whole the "carriage trade" notion, though it was not entirely absent, has been overemphasized. The basic customer for department stores was always the middle class shopper who ranged from the better paid industrial working families to the upper middle professional class. Teachers formed a core customer base. In the Depression and thereafter many stores downplayed the the fancy, ornate interiors, and cut back somewhat on services to keep costs down. This was in line with the entire culture which was becoming more informal, with less pretension and need for fancy trappings. Part of the crisis of the 1970s was that the big box "discount" stores of that decade were stealing away a lot of business from traditional department stores. Also, young people weren't too interested in department stores. What you noticed may have been an attempt to face these challenges. -- JW

Jan pretty much hit the nail on the end when it came to the evolution of the department stores and how they assumed their various clienteles. Early successful department stores were regarded for their selections, services, and sales guarantees. They were geared toward the middle class, an everything for “everybody” business. Successful department stores allowed the shopper to feel that they were “trading up,” at least on the upper floors. I like looking at the physical layout of Manhattan in terms of the progression of the department store. Many early retailers centered at or below 14th St. As the city grew north, large stores moved “up” to the 34th St. area. But the higher end retailers went farther north, to the carriages and countryside of Central Park. “Higher end" stores were located around 50th St. and higher. By the 1920s and 1930s, the once rich fertile ground of 14th St. area stores, were now home to “lower” retailers such as Klein’s, Ohrbach’s, and Hearn’s. The middle of Manhattan’s shopping district, home of some the city’s major subway and train stations, became home to the major and massive middle class retailers such as Macy’s and Gimbels. -- ML

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Just wondering if you have any information on Danbury Clothing in the 1920's? -- I have not heard of it. Was it in Danbury CT? It does not sound as though it was a department store. There was a department store in Danbury called John McLean, Inc.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I have an old bottle and box of Jasmine perfume. It says Nelson Detroit.Was that a department store? Thank you so much. Not that I know of, but if I learn more I will report back. -- JW
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This might not be exactly in your purview--but I recall a Dapper Dan's discount men's clothing store in Elizabeth New Jersey through the 70's. Does this ring a bell with you? JS -- I, for one, can find no trace of it. -- JW
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
To answer the question about a department store on Springfield Avenue in Newark. Field's was a junior sized department store located on Springfield Avenue and S. 6th Street. Like many retail stores it as heavily damaged during the July 1967 riots, but unlike most stores they rebuilt and reopened, and remained in business through the late 1970's. Today the building hosts a discount furniture store. Most of Newark's major department stores were located downtown (and avoided damage during the riots), the exception was Sears, which operated a large multi level store on Elizabeth Avenue in Newark's South Ward. Sears closed this store around 1976, KA. -- Thanks, Ken.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I live in Georgia and Belk stores used to sell chocolate candy and I am trying to find out what is was called and who made it. In the 1980s I used to buy individually wrapped candy that was a chocolate disk about the size of a medium pancake with cashews in it. They had these on the counter beside the cash registers. Anyone remember that candy? -- I lived in Savannah during the late 1980s so I have a faint idea of what candy you are talking about. Besides Godiva, many large Belk stores carried chocolates, especially when there was still such a thing as candy counters, made by the “Sweet Shop.” The company still seems to exist and is operated by Price’s Chocolates, a longtime candy maker that supplied many department stores. Go to www.sweetshopusa.com and see if anything seems familiar. -- ML
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Do you have any information on a department store called Haggerty's? My grandmother worked for them in southern California as a millinery buyer. I believe they had a store in San Jose too. -- Haggerty's was not a department store but an upscale women's specialty store. Consequently I don't know a whole lot about it, but it was evidently founded by J. J. Haggerty in Los Angeles in the early 20th century. By 1915 there were 4 in LA and one newly opened in Sacramento. They were known by various names then, such as the New York Cloak and Suit House and Palais des Modes. By 1961 there were 10 stores in S. California, with two opening in 1960, one of them in Palm Springs. -- JW

J.J. Haggarty established the New York Cloak and Suit House in 1905 but relocated the business to 7th and Grand, opposite the J.W. Robinson flagship store. Haggarty coordinated the opening of its new store with that of Robinson’s in May 1915. Haggarty’s downtown Los Angeles store conceded its flagship status to Beverly Hills and fell off of the store roster by the early 1960s. By 1968, the "prestige fashion stores” were located in Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Santa Ana, Lakewood, Downey, Canoga Park, Bakersfield, and Palm Springs. However drowning in $4.4 million in debt, Haggarty’s threw a going out of business sale in May 1970. In August 1970, San Francisco fashion store Roos-Atkins acquired the Beverly Hills store’s lease. -- ML

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Hudson store was running in 1951. On Saturday what time was the store open? -- Saturday hours in 1951 were 9:15 to 5:00, closing one half hour earlier than on other days. -- JW
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Has anyone ever heard of Malone's department store? I believe it was in the Midwest..... There was a Malone's department store in deKalb IL (also one in Tacoma WA), but I don't know anything about it and haven't discovered any sources of information. -- JW
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Can you provide history of Legett's Department Store? -- Fred Bennett Leggett founded the first Leggett store in Danville, Virginia, in 1918. In 1921 the Leggett stores then existing (not sure how many) joined Belk's, becoming the first to partner with Belk's, a chain that grew through partnering. It seems that thereafter the stores were referred to either as Leggett's or Belk-Leggett's. Many in the chain were small stores in small towns, primarily selling moderately-priced clothing for the whole family. By 1956, when F.B. Leggett died, there were 54 Leggett stores in 5 states, reportedly VA, WV, NC, MD, and OH. In 1963 when Leggett's celebrated its 75th anniversary, it was part of a chain of 400 stores under the Belk's umbrella. In 1978 there were 67 Leggett stores, in the same 5 states as 1956 except for Delaware instead of Ohio. In the late 1990s all the stores became Belk's. There is a book about Belk's called William Henry Belk: Merchant to the South by LeGette Blythe, published in 1950. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
American (men's clothing) stores in No. NJ; 1940s - '60s, Rt 46 in Lodi, NJ, built in Quonset Huts. Featured palm trees, tropical fruits. -- If you are looking for a name I can't help you, but it sounds like a part of the post-WWII trend to locate bargain stores in old factories and abandoned buildings on city outskirts that heralded the beginning of the big box store phenomenon that led to the erosion of business in downtown department stores of the sort that this site is about. -- JW

The original Burlington Coat Factory, on Route 130 in Burlington, NJ, is a perfect example. It opened in 1972 in a dumpy cinderblock building on the outskirts of the relatively small town. -- ML

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Which department stores in the US survived into the 1970's and beyond that are/were still family owned? I know Strawbridge and Clothier, Rich's, Elder-Beerman, and Von Mauer are some examples I can think of. Are there others? It seems like many of the well known names became part of Allied Stores, Federated, Associated Dry Goods, City Stores Etc. -- You are right that by the 1970s most stores were either chain stores or parts of holding companies. The market share of independents (not always = to family owned), and holding companies, shrunk drastically in the 1960s and 1970s, as chains -- including the early discount stores -- took by far the biggest share. A few more that made it into the 1980s are: Grover-Cronin in Waltham MA; The Outlet Co., Providence RI; and Miller & Rhoads whose management bought it back from Allied in 1987. -- JW

There were still quite a few family-owned/operated department stores in the 1970s and 1980s. Hutzler’s (Baltimore), Goudchaux’s (Baton Rouge), Pizitz (Birmingham), Steiger’s (Springfield, MA), and Smith & Welton (Norfolk) come to mind. Today, Boscov’s (Reading) may be the reigning champion, but Dillard’s and the Bon Ton group (York, PA’s Grumbacher family) have plenty of family involvement. Nordstrom (yes, a specialty store but what defines a department store these days?) has the next generation in place. The Belk family, with its uniquely and somewhat separately managed group of stores, sold its interest only 8 months ago. That’ll be an interesting longterm scenario. What is Belk going to look like 5-10 years from now? -- ML

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
There was a department store on Springfield Ave. in Newark, NJ. I believe it was there from the 50's through the 70's. Do you have an idea of what the name was? -- Though most of Newark's big department stores were on Market or Broad streets, there were two on Springfield Ave. in the 1940s (as close as I could find). One was W. Wilderotter Sons at 491 Springfield, which I believe was destroyed by fire in 1954. The other was the Colonial Department Store at 482 Springfield. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I HAVE A GOLF CLUB THAT HAS THE LETTERS T.N.T. ON THE TOE OF THE CLUB AND ALSO THE WORD NIBLICK, AND IT HAS THE WRITING R H MACYS CO. INC. COULD YOU TELL ME HOW OLD THIS CLUB IS AND IS IT AN ANTIQUE. -- Sorry, but I don't know anything about the golf clubs sold by Macy's -- I'm not sure that the place of sale would be helpful in identifying the club. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Do you know what brand names of children's clothing Macy's sold in the early 1970s? My mother in law purchased an outfit for my husband's year old picture sometime between 1972 and February of 1973 and I am trying to find it. A long shot I know and the only information she can offer is that it was purchased in the Kansas City area at Macy's. Thanks so much, great site! -- I'm afraid I don't have the slightest idea of what brands of boys' clothing Macy's handled then in KC and it does sound nearly impossible to find out. Even if you looked at every single newspaper advertisement from that period it's probable the outfit you want would not be shown. If you are on Facebook you might join the group The Golden Age of the Department Store and post the picture of the outfit. There are people who belong to the group who are former Macy's employees. A long shot too, but the best I can think of. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I am trying to find a middle of the road department store that would have been typical in Charleston or Columbia, SC, in 1964 for a play I am writing. Thank you for this site! -- Most department stores aimed at a middle-class market. In Charleston you could choose Ivey's, Condon's, or Kerrison's. In Columbia there was Tapp's. -- JW

Go with Tapp’s. -- ML

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Where did JC Penney first get established? It seems that Penney's was one of the first chain type department stores-they located in larger towns and the downtown shopping districts of many cities. They also quickly embraced going to some of the first suburban shopping centers. -- The first store opened by James C. Penney was in the small mining camp town of Kemmerer WY, in 1902. By 1914, the closed corporation known as J. C. Penney operated 70 small dry goods stores in the West, none in large cities. The chain stores used the name Golden Rule until 1919. By then the rapidly growing chain was in 35 states and was confronted with other stores using that name, so it decided to operate under its corporate name, J. C. Penney Co. It gradually expanded its offerings from standard dry goods to a greater range of merchandise, becoming a bit more like a department store, but did not begin to embrace fashion until a major expansion in 1929, at which time there were more than 1,000 stores. Not until after WWII did it move beyond its no-frills business model -- without decor, delivery, or credit so as to keep prices low for the "masses" (as it identified its customers), and I would say it never really joined the league of major department stores. I'm not certain, but I would guess it did not move into the suburbs in a significant way until this time, as was true of most department stores. James Penney died a very rich man in 1971. -- JW

Penney’s retail expansion, whether on Main Street or in the shopping center, was much slower than you would think. By World War II, the typical J.C. Penney store averaged only 12,000 square feet, consider that the standard modern grocery store today averages about 50,000 square feet. In 1957, Penney’s opened its then-largest suburban “junior department store” at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ (70,000 square feet). By 1961, there were 1,695 stores but only 156 were located in shopping centers. In 1962, J.C. Penney Co. entered the big leagues with a large full-line store (130,000 square feet) at the King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania followed by another large store at the Black Horse Pike Shopping Center in Audubon, NJ. Most Penney stores were located in the North Central United States and the least, by far, were located in the Northeast. -- ML

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I live outside Philadelphia and I was fortunate to be living here a few years before Strawbridge and Clothier and John Wanamaker’s closed. I am originally from Boston. Born in 1946 just outside of Boston – we went “in town” for everything. You would never consider buying a winter coat locally – you always made a trip to Filene’s, Jordan Marsh, R. H. Stern or R. H. White. I remember my mother made an appointment at Filene’s to have my sister’s first communion pictures taken and other pictures of my sister and I together. The reason why I mention this is because my brother was born seven years after me and when it came time for his baby pictures – Filene’s came to your home – guess things were changing at that time! Filene’s basement – WOW! I had an aunt who worked in Boston and every day she walked “up town” on her lunch hour to the basement – every piece of clothing that she owned came from Filene’s bargain basement – just beautiful clothing. My aunt often said that she was born and raised in Filene’s basement. I read a few years ago that Boston’s public television station was putting together a documentary about Filene’s basement. The producers were planning to interview loyal customers and people that still hung on to things they bought over the years at Filene’s basement. I never heard anything after the initial plan. If my aunt was alive she could be their number one candidate to interview. Also, I remember my mother telling me that President Franklin Roosevelt’s son, John, worked at Filene’s. Apparently, he was very visible in the basement store. Another store on the outskirts of Boston that was just fabulous was – Grover Cronin’s in Waltham, MA. It was the family’s only store – they never branched out to a mall. The store was very similar to Strawbridge and Clothier. The merchandise was top quality and they did thousands of fashion shows for organizations in the greater Boston area. I just loved going to “Cronin’s”. -- from someone who grew up in the 1950s & 1960s -- Yes, the documentary “Voices from the Basement” by Michael Bavaro received its WGBH premiere in 2010. Go to http://voicesfromthebasement.com to read about it and buy it! It’s a must for any Filene’s and Filene’s Basement fan. (I also wrote a book on Filene’s, in case you are interested. It is primarily about the upstairs store. The May Company gave the Filene Marketing Archives to the Boston Public Library who very generously gave me full access. However, the location of the Basement archives is unknown, if they haven’t been purged. Filene’s and Filene’s Basement were operated by two separate companies from 1988 on and when the Basement closed in 2011, Syms owned Filene’s Basement. Syms is no longer.) I agree about Grover Cronin, a great store. But up through the 1980s, there were so many great small local department stores throughout New England. Grover Cronin was a cut above but the others helped give New England towns their identities as well. And if you need more about Strawbridge & Clothier, buy the book Family Business, or go to the Hagley Museum Library in Wilmington and enjoy the Strawbridge’s archives first hand. -- ML
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I am trying to confirm when the Monogramming Shop opened in Kaufmann's (the original flagship Pittsburgh store), and also what the store's opening hours were during the 1940s and early '50s. Was the store open at night? Until what time? Thank you! -- I don't have access to information specific to Kaufmann's but it seems that a lot of department stores acquired monogramming machines in the 1930s. As for hours, after WWII most downtown stores stayed open only about one night a week. During the war itself, it's possible they were open more nights since so many women held jobs outside the home, but on the other hand there was a terrific shortage of retail workers, so I'm not sure how that played out. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Do you have any information on the relationship between Mobil Oil Corp. and Montgomery Ward vis a vis the Montgomery Ward Auto Express Centers (I am familiar with the corporate relationship between Mobil and Marcor and MW, but not the specifics of their relationship, if any, at their locations)? -- Perhaps a reader can help answer this. My research focus is on local and regional department stores rather than national chains, stores that were fashion centers and did not deal much with cars, hardware, appliances, etc. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Quick question. Was there ever a JC Penney in downtown Elmira? Thanks. -- If you are referring to Elmira NY, the answer is yes. I found a listing for a Penney's at 111-115 N. Main in a 1928 city directory. How long it was there I don't know. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Since the current Christmas shopping season is in full swing, it reminds me of the elaborate Santaland displays that department stores would promote to create a magical experience for kids. Which stores had the largest and most grand Santa Lands? I know some stores would have monorails and trains the kids could ride in. Some stores such as Lazarus in Columbus OH had multiple Santa Clauses to keep the lines moving! -- Yes, department stores were magical places for kids at Christmas. The store Santas, Santa Lands, parades, etc began at a time when toy departments were not year round and their appearance marked the beginning of that department being set up for the season. Many stores had rockets, trains, mini-carnival rides, snow tunnels, Santa breakfasts for children only, and walk-through Christmas towns. In the 1960s Hudson's in Detroit reportedly drew 1/2 million children to see 12 Santas (each approached via a separate pathway so the children didn't realize there was more than one). But I think Wanamaker outdid them all. I can barely imagine how thrilling it must have been in the years when the store would turn off the lights each morning at 10:30 a.m. and a uniformed brass band with storybook characters marched through the store, followed by Eskimos carrying Santa aloft to Santa Town. -- JW

I also agree that Wanamaker’s probably outdid them all. But I wouldn’t dismiss smaller stores in smaller cities. I’m sure that if you wanted to do a painstaking study that compared Christmas display square footage in relation to entire store square footage, you’d find some interesting results and ratios. Herpolsheimer’s might not have been the country’s largest store, it was good for Grand Rapids, but they were one of the handful of stores that installed monorails over its toy department. That’s commitment. On another note, an award for today’s least caring large store’s holiday decorations? Hats off to Lord & Taylor’s suburban stores. The handful of light green, blatantly corrugated cardboard Christmas trees are proof positive about why brick and mortar are losing their place as economic and social destinations. Invest in some decorations and people can be reminded about why they are in your store in the first place. -- ML

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Do you have any information about Tepper's in Plainfield, NJ? A beautiful store. -- Have you seen the online exhibit by the Plainfield public library? -- http://www.plainfieldlibrary.info/OnlineExhibits/LBNF/Teppers.html -- It says the store in Plainfield was opened by Adolph and Max Tepper in 1906, moved across the street and was enlarged several times before closing in 1977. There were also Tepper Brothers stores in New Brunswick NJ, Trenton (as early as 1906), Newark, and Selma AL (begun in 1903). Other Tepper brothers may have been involved in the operation of some of these stores. In the 1920s and 1930s Tepper's in Plainfield used the slogans "Central Jersey's Greatest Store" and "A Safe Place to Shop," the latter presumably referring to honest practices. -- JW
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I'd like to see the Ad of Miss F.Collier ..from Gimbels. I was around 10 yrs old when I read it .. and remember reading it in the star Ledger as a boy . .. can you help? Thanks ..Drew DrewManchester@yahoo.com -- Unfortunately your request would be the subject of a very labor intensive search. The NJ papers have not been digitized, other than text in limited capacities, so the request would fall into microfilm’s hands. The Newark Evening News ended its run in 1972 but their microfilm reels would be the most complete for that time period. However, at least for me, that would involve a visit to the downtown Newark Public Library to begin a blind search. Unfortunately, Gimbels marketing records from the NY/NJ have not been archived or saved. The Milwaukee County Historical Society has a nice collection from the Milwaukee division, the only known and available Gimbel archive. They may be worth a call if the request is somewhat urgent. -- ML
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Looking for information on the New England Bedding Store in Boston, MA. -- Sorry, but this site is dedicated to department stores only.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I'm wondering where garments, shoes etc. came from for the very first Department Stores. Were these manufactured by small cottage industries in people's homes? -- This is a hard question to answer. Probably they did sell some merchandise that had been farmed out to home workers by contractors. But I think generally not, because by the time department stores came on the scene, after the Civil War but especially in the 1880s and 1890s, the country was well supplied with factories. Men's clothing was produced for the mass market before women's, which did not reach full flower until the 1920s. There were exceptions, such as underwear, stockings, shoes, and shirtwaists and some other items. Much of women's clothing, dresses in particular, was made in the home or by professional dressmakers. The early department stores often devoted their top floors to custom dressmaking. Some stores continued these shops on a smaller scale well into the 20th century to attempt to capture luxury-market customers. -- JW


Clicking on the books below will take you to Amazon.com.






Available directly from Jan for $20 postpaid.




Missing Stores

Abraham & Straus – Adler's -- Addis & Dey -- Alexander's -- B. Altman – AM&A -- Anderson-Newcombe -- Arbaugh's -- Auerbach's -- L.S. Ayres – Bacon's -- Bamberger’s – Battelstein's -- Bendel's -- L. L. Berger -- Bergner's -- Bernheimer-Leader – Best & Co. -- Blach's -- James Black Co. -- Gus Blass -- Block’s – Block & Kuhl -- Boggs & Buhl – Bon-Marche [WA & NC] – Bonwit Teller -- Boston Store -- Boylan-Pierce -- H. H. Bowman -- Brach Thompson -- Brandeis -- Braunstein's -- John Bressmer -- Brett's -- Brintnall's -- The Broadway – Brock's -- Brody's -- John A. Brown -- Brown's -- Buffums -- Bugbee's -- Bullock’s – Burdines – Burger Phillips -- Bush & Bull -- Cain-Sloan -- Calendar, McAuslan & Troupe -- The Carl Co. -- Carlisle's -- Castner-Knott -- Chappell's -- T. A. Chapman -- City of Paris -- Clark's -- M.M. Cohn -- Arnold, Constable -- Craig's -- Crosby Bros. -- Cox's -- The Crescent -- Crowley-Milner -- Dalton's -- Daniels & Fisher – Davidson's -- Davison’s – Dayton’s – De Lendrecie -- DeLoach -- Demery & Co. -- Denholm’s – Denver Dry Goods – Desmond's -- The Diamond -- Donaldson’s – Dunlap's -- Dunnavant's -- Eastman Bros. & Bancroft -- Edgar's -- E.W. Edwards & Son -- Ellis, Stone & Co. -- Emery, Bird, Thayer – Emporium-Capwell – Epstein's -- Espenhain's -- The Fair [multiple] – Famous-Barr – Filene’s – Flah's - Foley’s – Forbes & Wallace -- Fowler, Dick & Walker -- Fowler's -- B. Forman -- Fox – Frank & Seder – Franklin-Simon -- Frederick & Nelson’s – H. Freedlander Co. -- Frost Bros. -- Froug's -- Furchgott's -- Wm. F. Gable Co. -- Gabriel's -- Garfinckel's -- Gayfer's -- John Gerber Co. -- Gertz -- Gilchrist's -- Gilmore Bros. -- Gimbels – Gladdings -- Glass Block -- The Globe Store -- Godchaux's -- Golds -- Goldblatt’s – Goldenberg Co. -- Goldsmith’s – Goldstein-Migel -- Goldwater’s – Gottschalk's -- Goudchaux -- W. T. Grant -- Grieve -- Grossman's -- Gutman's -- Bisset & Holland -- Hahne’s – Hale Bros. -- Halle’s – Halliburton's -- Hamburger & Sons – L.Hammel -- Harris -- Harris-Emery -- Harvey's -- Harzfeld's -- Hearn’s – Hecht’s – Heer's -- S.H. Heironimus -- Hemphill-Wells -- Hengerer's -- Hennessy's -- Hens & Kelly -- Henshey's -- Herberger's -- Herbst -- Herpolsheimer’s – Hink's -- Hinkle's -- Hinshaw's -- Hochschild-Kohn – D.H. Holmes – Hudson’s – Hutzler’s -- Innes – Iszard’s – Ivey's -- Jacobson's -- Jacome's -- Jellefs -- Jenss -- The Jones Store – Jones & Jones -- Jordan-Marsh – Joseph Horne – Joske's -- Joslin's -- Kahn's -- Kann’s – Karroll's -- Katz -- Kaufman's -- Kaufmann’s – Kennington's -- Kerr's -- Kessler's -- Killian's -- Kilpatrick's -- S. Klein -- Kline's -- J.W. Knapp -- Korrick's -- Krauss's -- Lamont's -- Lamson's -- Lane's -- Lansburgh's -- LaSalle’s – F&R Lazarus – Leggett -- H. Leh & Co. -- Leonard's -- Levy's -- J.R. Libby -- Liberty House – Lintz -- Lion -- Lipman's -- Lit Brothers -- Frederick Loeser’s – Loveman's -- B. Lowenstein -- A. W. Lucas -- Maas Brothers – Mabley & Carew -- I. Magnin -- Joseph Magnin -- Edward Malley -- Mandel Brothers – Manchester's -- J. Mandelbaum & Sons -- Maison Blanche – Marshall Field’s – Marston’s – Martin's -- May Company – May-Cohen -- Mays -- McAlpin's -- McClurklan's -- McCreery's - McCurdy's -- G. M. McKelvey -- McRae's -- R.A. McWhirr -- Meier & Frank – Meis -- Meyers-Arnold -- I. Miller -- Miller & Paine -- Miller's -- Miller & Rhoads – Mills Dry Goods -- Edward C. Minas -- Missoula Mercantile Co. -- Monnig's -- Montgomery Fair -- Muller's -- Myer's Bros. -- Namm’s – Neusteter's -- Newman's -- O'Connor-Moffatt -- Ohrbach's -- M. O'Neil -- O'Neill's -- Orr's -- The Outlet -- The Palace -- Palais-Royal -- The Paris -- Parisian Stores -- B. Peck -- Peck's Dry Goods -- Peerless -- Pelletier's -- Penn Traffic -- People's Department Store -- Perkins-Timberlak -- Pfieffer -- Pizitz -- H&S Pogue – Polsky's -- Pomeroy's -- Popular Dry Goods -- Porteous, Mitchell & Braun -- Porter's -- Powers -- H.C. Prange -- Proffitt's -- Walter Pye's -- Quackenbush -- Read's -- J. Redelsheimer -- Regenstein's -- Rhodes -- Rices-Nachmans -- Rich’s – Richard's -- Rike’s – Rines Bros. -- Robeson's -- J.W. Robinson’s – Rogers -- Ronzon's -- Root's -- Rorabaugh-Buck -- Rose's -- Rosenbaum's -- Rosenwald's -- Roshek's -- Rothschild & Sons -- Rubenstein's -- Russell's -- Sage-Allen -- Sakowitz -- Sanger-Harris – Scarborough's -- Scranton Dry Goods -- Schreiner's -- Schuneman & Evans -- Schuster's -- Scruggs, Vandervoort, Barney – Selber Bros. -- Shepard’s – Shillito’s – Shriver’s – Sibley’s – Siegel-Cooper -- Thos. Smiley & Co. -- Smith & Welton -- Smith & Wilkins -- Snellenburg’s – Ben Snyder Co. -- Jos. A. Spiess -- Steiger's -- Steinbach -- R. H. Stearn's -- Steinfeld's -- Steinmart's -- Stekete's -- Sterling-Lindner -- Stern’s – Charles A. Stevens -- Stewart's [MD & TX] -- Stix, Baer, & Fuller -- Stone Thomas – Strawbridge & Clothier – Stripling's -- Strouss-Hirshberg – Swanson's -- Tapp's -- John Taylor Dry Goods -- W. Taylor Co. -- Thalhimer’s – Tichte-Goettinger – Tiedtke's -- Troutman's Emporium -- The Union -- Upton's -- Van Arsdale's -- Vandever's -- Walker's -- Walker Bros. -- Walker-Scott -- John Wanamaker – H.P. Wasson -- Watt & Shand – Week's -- Weichmann's -- Weinstock’s – Chas. V. Weise -- J.B. White -- The White House [CA & TX] -- White & Kirk - R.H. White’s – Whitner's -- Wieboldt's -- Wilkin's -- Wilmington Dry Goods -- Woodward & Lothrop -- Wolf & Dessauer -- Woolf Bros. -- Wolff & Marx -- Edward Wren Co. -- Wurzburg's -- Yetter's -- Young Quinlan -- Younkers -- ZCMI -- Zollinger-Harned

Jacobson's, Dearborn MI

Webers, Zanesville

Stern's, NYC

Miller & Rhoads, Richmond

Snellenburg's, Philadelphia

Loveman's, Birmingham

Forbes & Wallace, Springfield, Mass.

Cain-Sloan, Nashville

Stewart & Co., Baltimore

Rotunda at Hess Brothers, Allentown PA.

Maison Blanche, New Orleans.

The famous Tiffany mosaic dome at Marshall Field's, Chicago.

Schuneman & Evans, St. Paul.

The corner clock at L. S. Ayres, Indianapolis, is barely visible.

Bamberger's -- "Bam's" -- expanded rapidly in the 1920s. Macy's bought it in 1929.

Logo sent by a generous site visitor.

Joske's, San Antonio, billed itself "Largest Store in Largest State."

For more information on department stores, see my other sites listed below.