Posts Tagged ‘stores magazine’


Monday, February 24th, 2014


Ohio Stores – Halle Brothers Company – Cleveland


Halle Brothers was the upscale department store for Cleveland. It was founded in 1891 by Samuel Horatio Halle and his brother, Salmon Portland Chase Halle. The first store was located in Public Square, and later moved to Euclid Avenue and 4th. The large headquarters store on Euclid Avenue was opened in 1927. The company first started suburban expansion in 1929 with the opening of stores in Erie, Pa, Mansfield, New Castle, Pa, and Canton,

 Halle’s grew dramatically during WW2, and shortly afterwards as the Cleveland economy boomed. The store was noted for its high end merchandise, and superior customer service. The store was considered to be among the best stores in the U.S. In 1948, the company opened another store in Shaker Square.

During the 1960s, the company faced hard times as did the City of Cleveland. East Cleveland deteriorated as Sterling-Lindner and Bonwit-Teller stores closed. Shoppers from the suburbs who took the trains into downtown tended to shop at stores near the terminal (May Company and Higbee’s), and preferred not to take a shuttle bus down to Halle Brothers. The company continued to open suburban stores to counteract the losses developing at the downtown stores. These included: Shaker Square, Cedar Center, Westgate, Southland, Severance, Summit Mall, Beldon Village, and Mill Creek. This increased the store count to 15.

In 1970, Marshall-Fields bought Halle’s and did little to stem the declines at Halle Brothers as Marshall Fields faced issues with its’ other business operations.

In 1981, the company was sold to an investor group led by Jerome Schottenstein, the owner of Value City stores. The sale included the chains stores located in Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The investor group closed stores down to a six-store chain, and then liquidated the entire chain in 1982.


Friday, February 14th, 2014

Lazarus 3 LocationsLazarus 1907 outsideLazarus 1910 OutsideLazarus outside 1960's 1Lazarus outside 1960's 2Lazarus Columbus CampusLazarus Night approx 1910Lazarus first floor book shop Lazarus first floor escalator Lazarus first floor Meens Shoes lazarus First Floor Mens Hats Lazarus first floor Niagra Soda Fountain Lazarus First Floor South Aisle Lazsrus fist floor men's furnishingsLazarus Balcony BirdCageLazarus balcony haircuttingLazarus balcony Ladies Rest RoomLazarus balcony Ladies Rest RoomLazarus Balcony Men's Smoking RoomLazarus Third Floor Baby DepartmentLazarus second floor mens and boysLazarus 3rd floor ladies costume roomLazarus 3rd floor muslin underwear and laides sweatersLazarus 3rd floor Rest RoomLazarus Third Floor Baby DepartmentLazarus Kinderland 2Lazarus Kiinderland 4lazarus kinderland 3Lazarus KinderlandLazarus MillinaryLazarus Third Floor Baby DepartmentLazarus 5th Floor Pavillion RestaurantLazarus BandLazarus Display 1Lazarus Display 2.Lazarus Display 3Lazarus Display 6Lazarus Display 7Lazarus Display 8Lazarus Display 9Lazarus DisplayLazarus S&H StampsLazarus Santa FrontLazarus Santa BackLazarus Santa Wireless


Lazarus, as this department store chain was known, was founded in 1851 by Mr. Simon Lazarus. He had come to Columbus to become a rabbi and ended up opening a small store (one room) on Town Street. At the time, the store only offered menswear.

In 1877, after the death of Simon Lazarus his two sons, Fred and Ralph, took control of the store and started using showmanship to attract customers. For example, in 1890 they contracted with Niagara Soda Fountain to open a shop within the store selling ice cream, ice cream floats and sarsaparilla. After the two brothers took charge, the name was changed to F& R Lazarus.

The store continued to grow so that in 1909 an amazing six story store was built at High and Rich Streets. At 115,000 square feet, it was much larger than needed at the time. However, by 1921 the store was totally occupied and the company was ready for another expansion as it added additional merchandise categories. The company acquired the Columbus theatre to allow for more selling space, making the store the powerhouse retailer in downtown Columbus. At its peak, the store operated buildings covering an entire city block with the main entrance at High and Front Streets.

F & R Lazarus became known for many innovations in the retail industry:

            – One Low Price (no bargaining necessary)

            -First escalators in a department store

            -First air conditioned department store

            -Early adopter of a generous return policy (no questions asked)

The company was known for its social awareness:

            -Became a major employer of women.

            -Became a major employer of physically challenged.

The downtown store was famous for its Christmas activities. It sponsored a major Christmas Parade for the Friday after Thanksgiving Day to compete with the Macy’s Parade in New York City. Elaborate window displays drew major crowds.  A small platform was erected in front of the windows to give children a better view. On the sixth floor, next to the toy department, the auditorium was converted to Christmas scenes and place to meet with Santa.

In 1928, F & R Lazarus acquired the John Shillito Company based in Cincinnati and operated it as a separate business. In 1929, the company worked with Bloomingdale’s (NY), Filene & Sons Co (Boston), and Abraham & Straus (Brooklyn) to form Federated Department Stores.

Lazarus was late to the game in expanding suburban stores, but then it became a powerhouse in the Midwest.

  • The first suburban store was opened in 1962 on West Broad Street in Columbus. At first this store was a failure but became successful as it became a part of Westland Mall.


  • The second suburban store was opened in 1964 in Northland Mall. This store was an immediate success.


  • In 1973, Lazarus expanded outside Ohio with a store in Indianapolis.


  • In 1981, they opened a store in Huntington, West Virginia.


  • In 1986, Lazarus merged with the Shillito’s and Rike’s divisions of Federated Department Stores giving them locations in the Dayton and Cincinnati markets.


  • In 1987, Federated acquired the William H. Block Company in Indianapolis and the Herpolsheimer’s in Grand Rapids from Allied Stores and converted those stores to Lazarus.


  • In 1994, Federated acquired the Joseph Horne Company in Pittsburgh and converted those stores to Lazarus.


  • In 2003, Lazarus stores were combined into Macy’s and co-branded Lazarus Macy’s. That same year, the downtown store in Columbus closed.


  • In 2005, the Lazarus name was erased and all stores became Macy’s.


What happened????

The decline of Lazarus was a result of many reasons:

  • Lazarus had weak leadership in the end. Leadership turnover was high and no one was able to fend off the competition from specialty retailers nor the consumer’s desire to avoid the malls.


  • Lazarus’s expenses were high and kept eroding profitability.


  • The department store segment was consolidating to reduce the expenses of operating separate division headquarters.


  • Department stores were no longer the place for manufactures to showcase their goods. There were too many other retailers available who could offer the manufacturers better business growth with locations more convenient to the consumer and often at prices more advantageous to the consumer.


I know that there are so many of you who have shopped at or worked at F & R Lazarus. I hope you will share your memories with others as you look through these old postcards depicting Lazarus.


Thursday, February 6th, 2014


The demanding retail environment requires executives with higher education. Back in the 1960’s retailers aggressively started recruiting college graduates. In the survey conducted by Plummer & Associates, a New Canaan, Connecticut executive search firm specializing in the retail industry shows 88% of the CEO’s of the top 100 retailers have college degrees. That compares favorably with the 93% of Fortune 500 (all industries) CEO’s. This 88% also compares favorably with the 2008 study of retailers conducted by Plummer & Associates which showed 85% had college degrees and the 2002 study which indicated 60% had college degrees.

Retailers now need to recruit executives with advanced degrees. Of the Fortune 500 CEO’s, 68% have advanced degrees (MA, MS, MBA, Ph.D., JD) while retail only has 35%. Retailers have not made much progress attracting/developing CEO’s with advanced degrees as our studies in 2002 and 2008 show 37% and 29% respectively.


                                                Retailers                                  Fortune

Study Year       2002    2008    2014                500

BA                    60%     85%     88%                 93%

MA+                 37%     29%     35%                 68% (MBA,MA,MS,JD,Phd,etc)

MBA                            23%     29%                 40%

JD                                6%       7%                  

Note: The supermarket industry has the largest population of CEO’s w/o a college degree. This is followed by a group of entrepreneurs who built significant businesses. (i.e. Michael Dell at Dell Computers). The retailers surveyed are the top 100 based upon sales volume and includes those who operate store, catalog, e-commerce, and/or direct sales channels. The Fortune 500 statistics are from US NEWS May 14, 2012.

Retailing is a big part of our economy and the landscape is constantly changing.  Through internal growth and consolidation, the retail industry is now composed of more large national and international chains versus the smaller regional chains which existed up until the 1980’s. As a result, the CEO’s of these large retailers need sophisticated tools to meet the challenges they will face in the near future.

Challenges the industry faces include:

An oversaturation of retail stores. There is too much retail space for our population and too many retailers (including online retailers) are dividing up the sales pie.

Retailers are increasingly international, adding to the complexities of managing the business.

Growing options for the consumer; not only are there retail stores, but also direct sales, catalog retailers, online retailers, and rapid delivery choices that compete for the store customer.

Marketing options are growing. Retailers must keep abreast of new technologies (CRM, Texting, Emails, Twitter, Instagram, Social Media, Direct Mail, Advertising (Print, Broadcast, on line), etc.    Retailers also need to build a brand strategy which is reflected in the facilities, the products carried, the employee service levels and the overall experience in the store. They also need to understand ‘omni-channel’ marketing to ensure that the customer’s brand expectations are consistently met whether through the retail store, the catalog operation, or the e-commerce operation. It is of utmost importance that retailers learn how to segment and target customers and fashion a product assortment, ambiance, and service to meet customer expectations.

Price competition is severe. All channels need to take costs out of their operations so they can be price competitive. Customers will pay more for a product if they perceive a difference in service which is of value to them, but this value needs to be justified by research.

Retailers with stores need to maximize four wall contribution. They will need to ‘right size’ operations. They need to maximize efficiencies of their supply chain operations.

Retailers with stores need to deal with ‘showrooming’. If online customers visit stores to evaluate products, these stores need to capture the sale immediately by having a competitive price and an environment to close the sale.

Retailers need to recruit and develop well-educated talent to make a difference. Talent is needed in merchandising, marketing, supply chain operations, and in the stores to meet customer expectations and to minimize costs.

Plummer & Associates is  a highly respected boutique executive search firm which specializes in recruiting senior level executives for the direct-to-consumer industry (retail, retail services, direct marketing and sales, e-commerce, catalog, food service, and businesses which sell to this industry segment). Based in New Canaan, Connecticut, Plummer & Associates conducts assignments in the U.S. and globally. For more information: or contact John Plummer: Phone:  (800) 603 9981.


Thursday, February 6th, 2014


Plummer & Associates recruits the SVP-Supply Chain and Operations for Fresh Direct, the successful NYC based online fresh food delivery operator serving   the New York City, New Jersey, Westchester County, Fairfield County (CT), and Philadelphia markets.

Ms. Connie Wendzicki joins Fresh Direct on January 8, 2014, and will work out of the Long Island City office and reports to Adrian Williams, EVP-Chief Operating Officer. Ms. Wendzicki most recently was with Alcoa as Director – Procurement Center of Excellence. She previously had been the Vice President – Supply Chain for the Reynolds Food Packaging for North America. She also had experience with She holds a Master of Science degree in Industrial Administration from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee.

Plummer & Associates is a highly respected boutique executive search firm serving the retail, ecommerce, food service, and retail services industry segments. Plummer & Associates is based in New Canaan, Connecticut and operates across the U.S. and globally. Our focus is on senior level executives.


Friday, December 9th, 2011


A T STEWART & COMPANY – NYC – (stereoview card – prior to postcards)


Alexander Turney Stewart, an Irish immigrant, opened his dry goods store in 1823. The first store was located at 283 Broadway. The business became so successful he opened a second, much larger store on Broadway between Chambers and Reade Streets. This new store was, in fact, the largest in New York City. It was known as the Marble Palace as the building was clad in Tuckahoe marble. Lord & Taylor which operated out of a small store in Greenwich Village was its only competitor. The store sold imported European merchandise. Fashion shows were held on the second floor in the Ladies Parlor renowned for its large mirrors. The store became well known for its unique design and for the merchandise carried. This store is today known as the first department store in the U.S.

In 1860, Mr. Stewart built a new store further uptown on Broadway between 9th and 10th Streets which opened in 1862. This store was still larger and much closer to where the other stores had moved on the Ladies Mile (Macy’s, B. Altman, Lord & Taylor). Cast iron construction allowed the store to be more open and provided for large windows on the street level to showcase merchandise. The building was called the Iron Palace.

Besides being known as the creator of the first department store in the U.S., Mr. Stewart also became known for creating his own mills and sewing factories to produce product for his store. He gained more fame for laying out the plan for Garden City on Long Island.

Alexander Stewart died in 1876. His company continued in business until 1882 when it became Hilton, Hughes & Co run by associates of Mr. Stewart. Unfortunately, the new company failed and closed in August, 1896. The next month the store was acquired by Wannamaker’s from Philadelphia.

Wanamaker’s first building at 280 Broadway later became the headquarters for the New York Sun, the publisher of “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”. The building is now owned by the City of New York. The Iron Palace burned down in a massive fire in the 1950’s when it operated as a John Wannamaker store.

The first department store in the world is the Au Bon Marche in Paris, France. Although A. T. Stewart’s first store opened before Au Bon Marche, his first store was small and was not considered a department store in terms of organization.

Although there are many block prints of the A. T. Stewart store, there are few postcards. The store existed before postcards became legal with the U.S. Postal Service.

A T Stewart Home – Fifth Avenue – NYC


Friday, December 9th, 2011


For years, the Arnold Constable & Company was known as the “oldest department store” in America. It served the ‘carriage trade’ of New York. Famous customers included the Astor’s, Vanderbilt’s, Roosevelt’s, and Mary Todd Lincoln. The company was known for bring the best French fashion to NYC.


The company was started in 1825 by Mr. Aaron Arnold, an immigrant from the Isle of Wright. Before he opened his store he had been working with James Hearn, founder of Hearn’s. Mr. Arnold’s first store was located at the corner of Canal and Mercer Streets, then the center for retail. In 1837, a vendor, James Constable, married Aaron’s daughter and then became a partner in the firm. That is when the name was changed to Arnold Constable.


In 1868 Arnold Constable opened a new store at Broadway and Nineteenth Streets in NYC. This put the store in the middle the new “Ladies’ Mile” shopping district. It was known as “the Palace of Trade”.


In 1914 the company incorporated with reported capital of $2.5m. That same year the company leased the former home of Frederick W. Vanderbilt and started plans for building a new store on Fifth Avenue at 40th Street. At this time it was clear that the shopping district was moving “uptown”.


In 1925, Arnold Constable merged with Stewart & Company which led to the expansion into the suburbs. The first suburban store opened in 1937 in New Rochelle, NY. Later, stores opened in Hempstead, Manhasset, and New Jersey.


In the 1960’s, the carriage trade retailer of New York started to face economic troubles. As sales declined, expenses were rising significantly. The company started closing the unprofitable suburban stores. In 1975, the store on Fifth Avenue closed. After 150 years, the Arnold Constable name disappeared. The company did continue to manage its no-name stores, a small specialty retailer offering men’s and women’s separates. This was later sold in the 1990’s to YM, Inc, a Canadian retail chain.


What happened????   Arnold Constable did not adjust to the newer times and merchandising systems. It continued to cater to a dying “carriage trade” customer and did not attract the younger customers.


I visited Arnold Constable in 1973 on a business trip to NYC. I was interested in comparing it to Bullock’s Wilshire and I. Magnin. To me it was clear that Arnold Constable did not know it was hostile to the younger customer. The store also looked dowdy and was not well merchandised. I was not surprised when the company closed a year later.


Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011


According to all the statistics I read, one in every three employees is desiring to change jobs when another opportunity comes along. Should every employer be concerned?

As the economy improves, executive search firms will be seeking the best talent for their clients. Top talent will be contacted and wooed with opportunities at other companies. This has been the way things work for the past fifty years and I expect it will continue for the next fifty years.

Just because 1/3 of executives are looking to move does not mean it should be of major concern. I feel the question each company should ask itself is … “who are the 1/3 willing to leave?”  If your key and high potential executives are willing to leave, you have a problem. It is time for you to evaluate your key executives to make sure their compensation is in-line with competition and that you have the benefits and stock options in place to keep these executives motivated and owners in the company. At the same time, you need to let them know the importance they play in the company and the future they should expect.

On the other hand, if the one-third willing to leave are not your top team members, maybe this is not a bad thing. If they leave, it will give you an opportunity to recruit and/or develop top talent. Turnover at the bottom performance level often allows new stars to develop and flourish.

Organizations which compensate key employees well, that lock them in with strong benefits and stock option programs, and that offer a bright future, seldom lose their best executives. Executive recruiters know that!


Friday, June 17th, 2011

For years, consultants in executive search have been explaining the difference between contingency and retained executive search firms. It has always been hard to do without sounding self-serving. I have attached a definition of Executive Search from Wickipedia (June 17, 2011) which I believe makes the differentiation quite clear.

Which process a client chooses is the client’s decision. I have a bias. After years within a client company and years as a leader in executive search, it is clear that the retained approach is best for the recruitment of key executives. The retained process is more intensive, extensive, and results in candidates with the best fit. Retained search also best represtents the client’s brand.

Executive search

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (June 17, 2011)

Executive search is the consultative process of recruiting individuals to fill senior executive positions in organizations. Executive search may be performed by an organization’s board of directors, or by an outside executive search organization.

Executive search profession

Executive search is an extremely lucrative industry and successful search consultants can earn large sums. For this reason there is fierce competition to work in this sector. Generally the office is broken down into three functions: Business Development, Recruiting and Research. Generally the Business Development person receives the largest commission while the Researcher receives the smallest.

The executive search profession ranges in models from “Retained” search to “Contingency” search. Retained search firms are paid a retainer equal to one-third of the fee up front to launch the search process, a third of the fee thirty days from launch and the final third sixty days from launch. If the fee is fully paid before a candidate is hired, the retained firm continues its work until the search is concluded. Contingency search firms, on the other hand, receive their entire fee at the conclusion of the search process. Over the years, many contingency firms have begun receiving retainers while retained firms have expanded their models to include flat fees, capped fees, etc.

Search consultancies are often entrenched in particular market sectors. Their market sector networks are used along with various methods to seek candidates for a particular job. Normally the individuals are not actively seeking a new job. It is the job of the search consultant to approach these individuals with a view to taking them out of their current company and placing them in another, often a competitor.

The service is paid for by the client company or organization, not by the hired job candidate. Potential job candidates are identified, qualified and presented to the client by the executive search firm based upon fit with a written or verbal Job Specification developed in conjunction with the client. Assessing degree of potential fit of the candidate with the job specification is a key activity for the search firm, since the most common reason a search consultant is engaged by a client company is to save time and effort involved with identifying, qualifying and reviewing potential candidates for specific leadership positions.

It is common for a potential candidate to be identified by the search firm via a telephone call. Often the phone call is the result of a recommendation from someone inside the existing network of the search firm. Quality oriented search firms work hard at cultivating and continually updating their network of contacts so that when a search assignment is awarded they will be ready to start recruiting potential candidates. Another way to identify potential candidates involves search firm “research”, which is contacting targeted people in specific companies who appear to fit the job profile in some logical manner. Some of the best candidate referrals come from people who could be candidates for the job themselves but for any number of reasons are not interested at that particular time.[1]

Retained executive search firms

Retained executive search firms are firms paid on a retainer-structure that identify, assess, and recruit Corporate Officers, Board Members, C-level executives, Diversity Candidates, and other senior talent. There are large, global firms who engage in this activity, as well as regional “boutique” firms. Some smaller firms act together as a network, thus gaining global reach and being able to compete with the large integrated ones. Some firms specialize in specific industries (for example pharmaceutical, retail, IT) or functions (i.e. sales executives), while others are generalists.

Job seekers who qualify for senior-executive level searches often mistake executive recruiters for career transition, or “outplacement” specialists. Executive recruiters work for their client companies. They do not actively place out-of-work individuals. This would not only be a conflict of interest, it would also be financially unwise. A job seeker does not pay a recruiter when he lands a job. The client company pays the recruiting firm when it fills a position. This nuance is lost on many. It may be worthwhile to contact executive search firms if you qualify, but do not expect them to take time out of their schedule to talk with you or see you. They are driven by their specific assignments for their clients: they find people for roles, not roles for people. Executive search consultants can be “career makers” for some individuals, but for most, this will not be the way they will find their next role.

When choosing a firm, it is a good idea to consider carefully what you want from the relationship. While contingency firms offer a service with no money up front, they will often only work on those searches that can be executed quickly and do not have the time to focus on high-quality candidates. Another option is to hire one firm and give them an “exclusive contingency” arrangement so that the money is still paid at the end of the search, but there is only one firm working on the search. This gives the firm the benefit of time to truly focus on quality and the hiring manager is not flooded with resumes. A third option is to pay the firm an engagement fee. Generally firms with engagement fees are exclusive as well and then have more resources available to them to purchase additional research. This also moves the search to a “retained” level which brings a level of professionalism sought by many upper level candidates. At the retained level, a client could pay a “performance retainer” which means a payment to start the search, a payment when candidates are submitted and final payment when the candidate starts. These milestones are chosen due to the fact that the firm “performed”. The more traditional retainer agreements are time based and are set at specific intervals regardless of retainers.

 Types of executive search firms

There are broadly two different types of Retained Executive Search firms in operation.

Global: These tend to cover numerous different sectors including financial services, life sciences, automotive, consumer, energy, pharmaceutical, telecommunications, technology, and media companies, as well as other industries. Such executive search companies will have many offices all over the world and the consultants will typically be split by which sector they are expert in. These firms are often public listed and may have over 100 offices.

Boutique: These tend to be more sector specific. That is to say that they will cover only one sector and within this sector, they may only look at certain aspects. For instance, there are a number of boutique firms that operate within financial services and these companies tend to look at senior positions (MD, Director and Vice President) within Investment Banking (M&A, Corporate Finance), Capital Markets (ECM & DCM), Sales, Trading, Research, Interest Rates, Credit, Equities, Derivatives, hedge funds and long-only asset management. As such, these firms would have one or more offices in the major financial centers across the globe; London, New York, Chicago, Dubai, Shanghai, Beijing, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore. While the global firms may have a presence within these areas, they tend to cover board level positions within retail banking, asset & wealth management and insurance. However the larger global firms do periodically work within the capital markets arena


Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
Plummer & Associates recruits Ms. Kim Mason as the Director – Store Planning for Five Below. Ms. Mason had been the Senior Manager - Supply Chain for Office Depot.

Five Below in Durham, North Carolina.

Five Below is a privately held chain of discount stores found in a number of states. The store (as indicated by the name) sells products that cost no more than $5.00. The chain is aimed at teenagers and pre-teens, but have many products for mom and dad. The store was founded in October 2002.

Plummer & Associates, is based in New Canaaan, Connecticut and is known in the direct-to-consumer industry (retail, retail services, food service, restaurant, catalog, e-Commerce, m-Commerce, direct marketing/selling, and apparel wholesale) segment for the quality of its executive search services. For more information, we refer you to


Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Holiday Card 1904. Front Entrance


Abraham & Straus – Arial View – 1906

Founded in 1865 by Abraham Abraham and Joseph Wechsler in Brooklyn, New York, the company initially opened as Wechsler & Abraham on Fulton Street near Tillary. At this time, Brooklyn was a thriving community of its own; the Brooklyn Bridge had not yet been built. In the early 1880’s, the company bought and renovated an ornate cast iron building on Fulton between Hoyt Street and Gallatin Place. With continual expansion, the store eventually occupied the entire block. The building was equally ornate inside as depicted in some of the postcards shown below. A five-story courtyard with a skylight allowed daylight to show off the merchandise.  Abraham & Straus became the retail showplace in New York. The last major renovation was between 1928 and 1930 when the architects Starrett & Van Vleck designed the new building facing Fulton Street in Art Deco style. This store still stands today but is now a Macy’s.

In 1893, the Straus family along with Simon Rothschild bought out the Wechsler interest in the company and the store was renamed Abraham & Straus. The Straus family also had controlling interest in R.H. Macy & Company in New York. The two retailers were not combined but did maintain a common buying office in Europe. During the 1910s, the Straus family separated their interest in the two stores, with Abraham & Straus going to one branch of the family, and Macy’s to the other. In April, 1912, Isidor and Ida Straus went down with the Titanic.

In 1929, Abraham & Straus, Bloomingdale’s, Filene’s and Lazarus (along with its subsidiary, Shillito’s) merged to form Federated Department Stores. At this time, Federated was located in Columbus, Ohio but later moved to Cincinnati. The merger gave each division the strength to weather economic storms and also created buying clout in the U.S. and Europe.

Family members ran Abraham & Straus until 1955. Walter Rothschild was President and Chairman until 1955, and was succeeded by Sidney Solomon, the first non-family member to lead the company.

In 1950, the company purchased the Loeser’s store in Garden City and converted it to Abraham & Straus. In 1952, the company built its first suburban store in Hempstead. That store was expanded over the years until it exceeded 400,000 square feet. The company continued expansion with stores in Manhasset, Smithtown, Babylon (later replaced), Monmouth (NJ), Paramus (NJ), White Plains (NY), Short Hills (NJ), King of Prussia (PA), Willow Grove (PA), and Manhattan.

Under the leadership of Walter Rothschild and Sidney Solomon, Abraham & Straus was the powerhouse of Federated Department Stores. The division contributed more earnings per share than any other division. For years it was known as the training ground for merchants for the retail industry. Many of the top retail CEO’s came from the A& S training program.

Unfortunately, Abraham & Straus also became the funding source for Federated Department Store’s divisions in the Sunbelt (Bullock’s, Burdines, Sanger-Harris, and Rich’s). Eventually the Brooklyn market declined as did Hempstead and Babylon. The new management team relied on a strategy of opening new stores to grow their way out of the problems created by the declining markets. New stores were built in White Plains and Short Hills, but neither was an immediate success. Then, A&S made the disastrous decision to open stores in the Philadelphia market (Willow Grove and King of Prussia). These stores worsened the situation. As a final fiasco, the division opened a new store near Herald Square in NYC, a store that never could be profitable. On top of all this, a new centralized distribution center was opened, intended to reduce expenses and to increase the selling space in each store. Through management bungling, this operation became a major problem as shortage increased dramatically chain wide. In addition, costs were far above projections and merchandise got stalled in the pipeline.

Outside Porte Cochere. 1909

The Court, Silver Department, 1904

What happened???

Atop all the management mistakes in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, the final blow came when Campeau, the real estate developer, bought Federated Department Stores and combined it with Allied Stores. This led to the combination of A&S with Jordan Marsh (Boston), operating out of the Brooklyn headquarters. In 1994, Federated Department Stores purchased bankrupt R.H. Macy & Co and in 1995, combined A&S with the Macy’s New York division, converting stores to the Macy’s brand or other divisions of Federated.

I first saw Abraham & Straus in the late 1960’s when it was a powerhouse. I was working at Bullock’s in Los Angeles and was asked to visit with A&S to gather information on some of their personnel policies and procedures. I was impressed. The customer traffic was unbelievable. The fashion displays were incredible as the volume justified the costs. I joined A&S in 1976 and it was then on a fast downhill slide. Management’s response was to take the business upscale. This new direction worked in Manhasset, Smithtown, Paramus and the smaller Garden City store but in the other stores the new direction was a disaster. In Brooklyn, for example, we added a Pappagallo shop and put $12 million into an upscale renovation of the Brooklyn store when in fact all that sold in front of the store were Jellies and incense on cardboard boxes. The employees lost confidence in management as customers objected to the new higher priced merchandise. Unions started organizing attempts because of separation of the associates from management. One day over 6,000 people demonstrated in support of the unions in front of the Brooklyn store. The store also became a magnet for criminals. Organized gangs came into the store to steal merchandise. One Christmas Eve a gang came into the jewelry department during business hours, broke all the cases and stole the majority of the merchandise.

A&S Rotunda .. 1904

Picture Gallery. 1907

The postcard collection primarily shows the store pre-1930 when it was grand. Like all the other cards in the Plummer Collection, I ask that you do not reproduce or copy any of these postcards without gaining my written permission.

Grocery Department. 1904

Grocery Department in 1907

I trust that you will feel comfortable to leave your comments about your history with A&S, either as a customer or as an employee. We need to preserve this important part of retail history.

Straus Family Summer Home. View 1 . 1907

Straus Family Summer Home . View 2. 1907

Anniversary Day Parade . Prospect Park. 1907 . Pub by A&S

Lawn Tennis Prospect Park . 1905 . pub A&S