Beyond Retail

Friday, September 08, 2006

Store Profiles: Filene's

There's one last store to cover, and you've probably heard of this one.

William Filene's Sons & Company was founded in 1881 in Boston, Massachusetts, Filene himself had previously run a small shop in Salem which was founded in 1852.

While Filene's legendary store in Boston opened in 1912, one of the most legendary elements of the store was the "Automatic Bargain Basement", which Edward Filene opened in 1909. By providing adequate lighting, a clear markdown schedule, and selling more than the upstairs' leftovers, Filene's Basement became a huge success.

Filene's became one of the earliest members of Federated Department Stores when the company was founded in 1929. However, in 1988, when Campeau bought out Federated, Filene's and sister division Foley's from Houston were sold to May Department Stores. With the sale of Filene's to May, Filene's Basement went a separate way; today, it is part of Retail Ventures.

With Filene's under May ownership, May merged their Hartford-based G. Fox & Company chain into Filene's, both operationally and in name. With the May ownership also came a great influx of cash, which was used to construct new stores and expand and remodel existing ones; this helped push Filene's far ahead of it's local competition in Jordan Marsh. In 2002, Filene's assumed control of the Kaufmann's stores in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.

The merger of May and Federated led for the closure of either the existing Macy's store that was once the Jordan Marsh flagship, or the Filene's flagship. Federated chose to use the existing Macy's store, and sold the Filene's flagship to New York-based Vornado Realty Trust, with plans to install retail and possibly offices and a hotel in the building. In it's final months, the Filene's flagship served to sell discounted and slow-selling merchandise from not only Filene's stores but also the Macy's next door.

Filene's: 1881 to September 9, 2006 at 9:30am EST.

And that wraps it up. Nearly 150 years of retail history in 11 markets will all merge into one, meaningless, thinks-it's-cool-and-hip-because-it's-from-New-York-but-when-you-have-800-stores-there's-no-way-that-you-can-maintain-prestige, bland, rednecks-love-it, New York department store known to the entire country tomorrow morning as Macy's.

Store Profile: Marshall Field's

In 1852, a dry goods store opened on Lake Street in Chicago, Illinois, known as Potter Palmer & Company. In 1865, Pittsfield, Massachusetts native Marshall Field with a group of partners bought out the majority of Palmer's store, and one by one, Field acquired much of his other partners shares. But in 1868, Palmer convinced Field and his partner at the time to lease a store at the corner of State and Washington Streets.

While Field's store burned down in the Great Chicago Fire, he and partner Levi Leiter found a temporary location and eventually reopened in a new 5-story building on the site of the old building. The building burnt down again and in 1879, "Field & Leiter" moved back onto it's original site to the final time. In 1881, Field bought out Leiter, and from that point, the store began to grow.

Between 1881 and 1914, the store grew from a single building to encompass an entire Chicago city block. In 1897, the first clocks on the building's exterior were installed. And when Marshall Field died in 1906, all of the stores on State Street closed in memory.

In 1928, the first suburban Marshall Field's store opened in Lake Forest, IL. Later that year, an Evanston store opened, and in 1929, an Oak Park store opened. Also in 1929, Frango mints were added to the store's merchandise with the acquisition of Frederick and Nelson. From the 1950s through the 1970s, suburban growth led Marshall Field's to increase their amount of branch stores exponentially.

In 1982, Marshall Field & Company was sold to BATUS. Under BATUS ownership, several former Gimbels stores were added to Field's menagerie, but most were shut down after poor performance. The Oak Park and Evanston stores were shuttered as well under the guise that they were too old and too costly.

BATUS sold Marshall Field's to Dayton Hudson Corporation in 1990, which began to put much needed improvements into the chain. A renovation of the State Street store was completed under Dayton Hudson, and several new branch stores opened, and the brand began to see a turnaround. In early 2001, Detroit-based Hudson's and Minneapolis-based Dayton's were both rebranded as Marshall Field's.

In 2004, following the announcement that Target Corporation (which DHC was renamed in 2000) would sell the Marshall Field's chain, it was announced that the store would go to May Department Stores for $3.25 billion dollars. Analysts found this price way too high, one reason for the high price was an aggressive bidding war between May and Federated Department Stores.

Following the acquisition of May by Federated, rumors flew around about Marshall Field's place in the new company. Some believed that Field's would hold it's own as all other stores changed names to Macy's. Although it was announced that the entire chain would change, a strong holiday shopping season in 2005 encouraged rumors that the Field's name could remain on the flagship store. Petitions ran amuck, but in the end, Federated decided to pull the plug on Marshall Field's and its State Street store.

Marshall Field's: 1852 to September 9, 2006 at 9:30am

Store Profiles: Robinsons-May

Robinson's-May is the result of two stores that merged in 1993: J.W. Robinson's and May Company California.

Robinson's was acquired by Associated Dry Goods in 1957, which merged with May in 1986.
But the May name itself dates back to 1881, when Asher Hamburger founded A. Hamburger & Sons in Los Angeles, California. May Company acquired Hamburger in 1923, and the store was renamed May Company California.

As suburbia arose, both May Company and Robinson's expanded, but limited themselves to locations in Southern California. That would change in 1989, when May canned it's Phoenix-area Goldwater's division and divided the stores between Robinson's and May Company California.

Not long after the creation of Robinsons-May, the company took over operations of Foley's Tucson-area stores in 1997. This would be followed up by a merger of operations with Portland-based Meier & Frank, which was consolidated into Robinsons-May's North Hollywood headquarters in 2002.

Robinsons-May: January 31, 1993 to September 9, 2006 at 9:30am PST

Store Profiles: Foley's

Foley's was founded in Houston, Texas in 1900 as Foley Brothers, by Irishmen Patrick and James Foley, as a small store focusing on dry goods for men. In 1905, they expanded to carry women's and children's products. In 1917, the Foley's sold their chain to Galveston merchants George and Robert Cohen, and in 1922, Foley's moved into a 3-story building in Houston.

Ironically, the store was first acquired by Federated Department Stores in the mid-1940s. In 1947, Foley's opened a new flagship store at 1110 Main Street, which was heralded as the department store of the future. In 1951, the store held their first Thanksgiving Day Parade.

In 1960, Foley's opened their first branch store in Sharpstown, Texas; shortly followed by a third store in Pasadena, Texas. During the 1970s, Foley's expanded throughout Texas, adding stores in Austin, and expanding into San Antonio during the 1980's. In 1987, Foley's was merged with Federated's Dallas-based Sanger-Harris, with operations consolidated in Houston. The addition of Sanger-Harris also added stores in Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico.

In 1988, Federated was acquired by Campeau Corporation, which sold Foley's and Filene's to May. Following the May merger, a few underperforming stores were closed, and May began to work to build new stores and renovate old ones. In 1993, May D&F was merged with Foley's, bringing Foley's to the Colorado market and returning it to the Oklahoma City market. In 1995, Foley's left Tucson with the transfer of the existing Foley's stores to Robinsons-May,and in 2001, Foley's entered Louisiana by acquiring several Maison Blanche stores.

With the acquisition of May by Federated, the Foley's brand returned full circle to it's owner of over 40 years.

Foley's: February 12, 1900 to September 9, 2006 at 9:30am CST

Store Profiles: Meier & Frank

Meier & Frank dates to a small dry goods store opened in 1857 in Portland, Oregon by Aaron Meier. In 1873, he was joined by business partner Emil Frank, and the store became known as Meier & Frank. Emil would soon leave the relationship, replaced with his son Sigmund. When Meier died one day in 1889 while eating breakfast, Sigmund Frank took control of the store, assisted by Meier's widowed wife.

The store was expanded in 1891, and in 1898, the store moved into it's own building. In the subsequent years, the store was continually expanded until it covered an entire city block by 1932. In 1955, the company opened a 185,000 sq. ft. store in Salem, Oregon, it's second store.

In 1966, the store was sold to the May Company, which continued to expand the chain throughout the Northwest. In 2002, most of May's ZCMI stores in Utah were converted to the Meier & Frank concept. Also in 2002, Meier & Frank's corporate offices were consolidated with Robinsons-May in Los Angeles.

Although the Meier & Frank flagship will become Macy's tomorrow, the City of Portland named the block that the store sits on "Meier & Frank Square", thus, the new Macy's will be known as Macy's at Meier & Frank Square.

Meier & Frank: 1857 to September 9, 2006 at 9:30am PST.

Store Profiles: Kaufmann's

Kaufmann's was founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1871. Although the original Kaufmann's store was located on Pittsburgh's south side, the company's 13-story, 775,000 sq. ft. flagship store on Smithfield Street opened in 1885. The store was elegantly renovated in 1930, and in 1946, Kaufmann's merged with the May Company.

Over the years, Kaufmann's took over many retail chains, including Youngstown, OH-based Strouss in 1986 (along with several Pittsburgh area Gimbel's locations that same year), Rochester, NY-based Sibley's in 1991, Cleveland, OH-based May Company Ohio in 1992, along with portions of Rochester, NY-based McCurdy's and Allentown, PA-based Hess's in 1995.

With cost cutting a key element in the final years of May Department Stores, Kaufmann's headquarters in Pittsburgh were shuttered in 2002, as operations were consolidated with Filene's in Boston.

Kaufmann's: 1871 to September 9, 2006 at 9:30am EST

Store Profiles: Strawbridge's

Strawbridge's (formally: Strawbridge and Clothier) was founded by Justus Strawbridge and Isaac Clothier in 1862 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1868, the duo purchased a building that was previously Thomas Jefferson's office and opened the company's first store selling dry goods. However, this was soon replaced by a new 5-story building, and in 1928, it was replaced by yet another store that would eventually become the company's flagship as it expanded throughout the region. As the city of Philadelphia grew, the Strawbridge and Clothier flagship became part of an urban mall known as "The Gallery".

In 1995, Wanamaker was acquired by May Department Stores, and Wanamaker became part of Hecht's, in both name and operations. In 1996, Strawbridge and Clothier was acquired by May following the near liquidation of the chain. But rather than change the name of Strawbridge and Clothier to Hecht's as well, May chose to keep the Strawbridge and Clothier name, albeit shortened to "Strawbridge's". The Strawbridge's name was also expanded to all Philadelphia area May stores, including the Wanamaker stores that had become Hecht's just one year earlier.

In a surprise move, rather than converting the Strawbridge's flagship store to the Macy's nameplate, the downtown Philadelphia store was shuttered on May 23, 2006.

Strawbridge and Clothier/Strawbridge's: 1862 to September 9, 2006 at 9:30am EST.

Store Profiles: The Jones Store

In 1887, J. Logan Jones founded The Cyclone, a store in Stafford, Kansas. But in 1890, Jones moved the store to Kansas City, Kansas, where it was renamed the Jones Dry Goods Company. In 1900, it became known as The Jones Store, and in 1901, Jones opened the chain's flagship store at the corner of 12th Street and Main Street in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

During the 1960s, the store became part of Mercantile Stores. When Dillard's acquired Mercantile in 1998, The Jones Store was spun off to May, and the chain's operations were integrated with Famous-Barr and L.S. Ayers operations in St. Louis.

The Jones Store: 1900 to September 9, 2006 at 9:30am CST

Store Profiles: Famous-Barr

Famous-Barr has the least information available about it's history of all of the May chains, ironic given the store's history within the company.

In 1911, David May, who ran St. Louis-based The Famous Clothing Store with business partner Moses Shoenberg, acquired the William Barr Dry Goods Company, and merged it with Famous to create, of course, Famous-Barr. In 1913, the company opened a massive flagship store that took up the entire square block created by Olive, Locust, Sixth, and Seventh streets.

As with many other department stores of the era, Famous-Barr began expanding into suburbia; one of the first locations was located at Northland Mall in Jennings, MO; which opened in 1955.

From the late 1950s through 2003, May was on a buying spree, picking up many department stores from coast-to-coast. But respecting local brands, the Famous-Barr brand would never reach a national audience. In 1991, Famous-Barr's St. Louis headquarters took control of Indianapolis' L.S. Ayers operations, and in 1998, did the same with Kansas City's The Jones Store.

Famous-Barr: 1911 to September 9, 2006 at 9:30am CST

Store Profiles: L.S. Ayers

L.S. Ayers, officially "L.S. Ayers & Company", was founded in 1872 in Indianapolis, Indiana by Lyman S. Ayers. In 1896, control of the company transfered to Lyman's son Frederic. In 1905, the company opened a large flagship store in downtown Indianapolis.

In 1972, the chain was sold to Associated Dry Goods. In 1984, Associated merged Cincinnati-based Pogue's into L.S. Ayers; doing the same the next year with Louisville-based Stewart's. In 1986, Associated was sold to May Department Stores, which closed underperforming former Pogue's and Stewart's locations in 1987 and 1988. In 1991, L.S. Ayers' Indianapolis headquarters was shuttered, as operations were consolidated with St. Louis-based Famous-Barr, and the flagship store and three others were shuttered.

The flagship store also hosted the L.S. Ayers Tea Room. Although the restaurant was closed in 1992 with the rest of the store, the restaurant's furniture has been brought back to life as part of a recreation at the Indiana State Museum.

Ayers also ran a discount chain, known as Ayr-Way, which was launched in 1961. The store was spun-off as part of the Associated acquisition in 1972, and was acquired by Dayton-Hudson Corporation in 1980; the stores were re-branded as Target the following year.

L.S. Ayers: 1872 to September 9, 2006 at 9:30 EST

Store Profiles: Hecht's

As I post this, less than 17 hours remain until Filene's, Marshall Field's, and other former May stores across the country convert to the Macy's nameplate. So with such little time left, how about a profile of each of the 11 stores that America is about to lose.

Hecht's was founded in 1857 by Samuel Hecht, an immigrant from Germany. Originally a peddler along the Baltimore waterfront, Hecht eventually settled down in a small shop selling used furniture, and by 1870, moved to a more attractive location in Baltimore, where he would add clothing in 1879. In 1885, the enterprise grew to a second store, in 1897, a third store, and growth continued from that point.

In 1896, Hecht's made an entrance to the Washington market with the opening of a store, which would move to a new location at the corner of 7th Street and F Street NW. The new store boasted state-of-the-art amenities such as attractive styling, national brands, an elevator, and a parking garage. In 1985, the store was moved once again to it's current location at the corner of 12th Street and G Street NW.

The Hecht family sold the chain to May in 1959. Over the past 20 years, Richmond-based Miller & Rhodes, Richmond-based Thalhimer's, Allentown-based Hess's, Philadelphia-based Wanamaker's, Washington-based Woodward & Lothrop, and Nashville-based Castner Knott were merged into the Hecht's chain. Additionally, Hecht's acquired Philadelphia-based Strawbridge and Clothier in 1996; in 1997, management would be consolidated with Hecht's although the Strawbridge's nameplate would be extended to all May stores in the Philadelphia region.

Hecht's: 1857 to September 9, 2006 at 9:30am EST.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

T minus 36 hours... and counting

(like it or not, Macy's is going cross country in less than 2 days)

I wasn't really in the mood to post anything on Beyond Retail tonight, but I have to.

We're less than 36 hours away from one of the largest changes to the American retail landscape in years. At 9:30am in every time zone, some of the country's most well-known names in retail will shut down to be replaced with, well Macy's. Here's what the schedule looks like:

9:30am EST: Boston's Filene's, Pittsburgh's Kaufmann's, Philadelphia's Strawbridge's, Washington's Hecht's.

10:30am EST: Chicago's Marshall Field's, St. Louis' Famous-Barr, Houston's Foley's, Indianapolis' L.S. Ayers, Kansas City's The Jones Store.

12:30pm EST: Los Angeles' Robinsons-May, Portland's Meier & Frank.

In four hours, 11 department stores will disappear. As for retaliation, the only planned protests at the moment appear to be slated for outside the Marshall Field's flagship store on State Street in Chicago, where a crowd is expected... it could possibly be several dozen people but it is expected to be in the hundreds.

Keep checking Beyond Retail and over the next day for more updates on this situation.