Ralph & Rachel Kittel behind the counter
Ralph & Rachel Kittel behind the counter
Some of my earliest memories are of retail. Or more specifically, the general store that my grandparents owned in Forest, WI. My grandfather Ralph passed away in 1967 and they had sold the store several years earlier, so my memories are vague at best since I would have been less than 5 years old. It was a cold water building with an outhouse out back but to me it was the most amazing place.
A headline in today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer proclaimed “The retail apocalypse has officially descended on America.” Quite a dire news story. While the news is of some concern given the shear number of store closures and the job loses they represent, it does not reflect the end or apocalypse of retail. Part of the contraction that we are seeing is the continuing trend of shoppers buying on-line: but another significant issue is the glut of retail space.
Who says you can’t get clothes made in America? Suits made in Massachusetts. Shirts made in North Carolina. Ties made in New York City. I admire Brooks Brothers for continuing to offer quality clothing made in the United States. For more information and videos of their facilities, visit:
Royal Robbins passed away Tuesday in Modesto CA.
Robbins was a one of the climbers from the Golden Age of Yosemite climbers. In 1968, he and his wife Liz Burkner opened Royal Robbins Mountain Shop in Modesto and later created the clothing company that also bore his name.
I had the chance to meet Royal at a trade show in the 1980s. It was his humble nature during our meeting that reminds me that in retailing it is not about you but it is about the customer. Rest in peace Royal.
I took the opportunity to wander through Holiday Land at Macy’s in downtown Portland last week. This particular Macy’s store is closing in the coming months; the building started as a Meier and Frank’s in 1909.
As I watched the children anxiously waiting to visit with Santa, I could not help but think of the countless other children who made Macy’s a family tradition for Christmas that will soon only be a memory.
Here is a little homage to the store and its logo.
On December 28th, 2000, after 128 years in business Montgomery Ward announced was closing up shop.
On December 25th, 1813, William Debenham joined William Clark at Clark’s drapery shop on 44 Wigmore Street in London. This partnership was the creation of Debenham’s Department Store.
Clark had been in operation since 1778 meaning that Debenham’s can trace its roots back over 238 years, The company has grown to over 175 stores operating in the UK, Ireland and Denmark (Mostly though acquisitions).
On December 21,1844, the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers opened their tiny shop at 31 Toad Lane. After working months to recruit 28 members and collect £28 in capital (£1 from each member), the store had finally opened. Unlike other shops, the Pioneers operated as a cooperative.
The shelves were sparsely stocked with butter, sugar, flour, oatmeal and a few candles. Merchandise was soon expanded to include tea and tobacco and the co-op earned a reputation for providing unadulterated, high quality goods at a fair price.
While certainly not the first cooperative, the Rochdale Pioneers was the first successful modern co-op. What set the Pioneers up for success was the adoption of the now famous Rochdale Principles.
The principles continue to guide all modern retail co-ops. From their humble beginning, the co-op movement began and within 10 years there were nearly 1,000 cooperatives operating in Britain.
The Rochdale Pioneers work continues today with 4500 locations, 4.5 million active members, over 70,000 employees and revenue of £9.36 billion. http://www.coop.co.uk
Switzerland is famous for watches, cheese and chocolate. While in Geneva, we saw all three but it was only the chocolate that really interested us. After all, chocolate is a very affordable luxury unlike swiss watches. We made a quick stop at Favorer’s shop which was near our hotel for a little indulgence.
Favarger, founded in 1826, is the last remaining Swiss chocolatier actually producing in Geneva. All we picked up were a couple of kilogram bars of milk chocolate. How could we resist, they were 2 for 1!