On a day that J C Penney announced that they were leaving the appliance business, I saw this sign listing some of the legacy departments that were still offered at our local store.
Category Archives: Retail History
Update: An additional 139 stores was added to the closure list on February 9th.
Shopko announced today that they had filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. This was not a huge surprise as the company has been struggling for years. The company announced the closure of 105 stores. As is often the case with these announcements, there is a rush to see if “your Shopko (or Sears, Kmart, etc.) is closing.”
On a recent road trip in eastern Oregon and Washington, I traveled through Walla Walla, WA. and visited a Shopko store. The store is located in the Wall Walla Town Center, a recently redeveloped mall. Prior to redevelopment it was the Blue Mountain Mall that had opened in1989, was considered a “dead mall” in the 2000s and went bankrupt in 2012. While the Walla Walla store that I visited will remain open, the store itself has the feeling one gets as of late in a Sears or Kmart.
It did not help that it was located next to this Gottschalks store.
Gottschalks went bankrupt themselves in July of 2009. This store has been vacant for nearly 10 years adjacent to the Shopko.
Location, location, location.
Lord and Taylor’s Flagship in NYC Goes Dark
Lord & Taylor, one of New York City’s oldest and iconic department stores, has closed up shop after 104 years.
On opening day in 1914, 75000 customers streamed through their front doors. The amenities of the store included several restaurants, separate roof top lunch rooms for male and female associates, a doctor and dentist office, gymnasium and a concert hall with a built-in pipe organ.
WeWork will be the new tenant.
Muji in PDX
Muji of Japan recently opened a store in a storied retail location. The store is located in the 100 year old Meier & Frank building in downtown Portland returning a “department store” to this respected storefront.
The name is derived from Mujirushi (no-brand) Ryōhin (quality goods), Muji is noted by its design minimalism, emphasis on recycling, avoidance of waste in production and packaging, and no-logo or “no-brand” policy.
Inventory includes men’s and women’s clothing, home furnishings, food and stationary items. Also included in the store is a coffee shop and an alteration center.
It’s in my blood.
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.
Is it the end or just a correction?
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.
Made in America
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.
End of an Era
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.
In retail history
On December 28th, 2000, after 128 years in business Montgomery Ward announced was closing up shop.