In retail history

Toad Lane Museum from the outside, first premises of "The Rochdale Pioneers" early successful retail Co-operative, Rochdale England. by Scarletharlot69

Toad Lane Museum from the outside, first premises of “The Rochdale Pioneers” early successful retail Co-operative, Rochdale England. by Scarletharlot69

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.

  • Voluntary and open membership.
  • Democratic control.
  • Member economic participation.
  • Autonomy and independence
  • Education training and information
  • Cooperation among cooperatives
  • Concern for community

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.


The last of the Geneva Chocolatiers

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!

In retail history

Macy's at the opening of the Hillsdale Center in the late 50's

Macy’s at the opening of the Hillsdale Center in the late 50’s

On October 28th, 1858, Capt. Rowland Hussey Macy opened his fifth dry goods store after his first four failed.

After his four failed attempts in Massachusetts between 1843 and 1855, Macy moved to New York City and opened his latest store, the R.H.Macy’s & Co. on 6th Street that was considerably north of the dry goods retail stores of the time.  In spite of the risky location, Macy brought in $11.08, equivalent of $303. Macy’s logo has always been the red star which was a tattoo that R.H. had gotten when he was a whaler.

Macy’s opened their flagship Herald Square location in 1902 that has since grown to become the world’s largest department store in 1924.  It is now 2.2 million square feet.


Eastpak – strategy to sales success


Alexander Blecher,

Alexander Blecher,

Eastpak, a backpack company that traces its roots back to making bags for the US military, was acquired by VF in the year 2000. To expand their business, Eastpak and VF came up with a three-part strategy for growth; Diversify the offerings, Globalize the brand, Create a Lifestyle brand.

How did they do?  The reason for this post was the predominance of the Eastpak brand on the streets of Europe.

Singer Cycles

Version 3

Having traveled to Paris a number of times in the past, my wife and I have already visited most of the key tourist attractions from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower.  But in all of our time in Paris, we never thought to visit any bicycle shops.  Since we are both avid cyclist, we realized this was an oversight that need to be rectified on our recent trip.

Alex Singer was our first shop to visit.  To be honest, I was not seeking out legendary service but rather to see one of the last shops of an era that is dying out, the era of the constructeurs.

“During the “Golden Age,” small makers built amazing bicycles that transcended their function to become a form of art. Their craftsmanship was not limited to the frame, but included hand-made derailleurs, brakes, stems, racks and other components. The entire bicycle was carefully designed and crafted as a unit, combining function and beauty. Famous makers like René Herse, Alex Singer, Jo Routens and others spent countless hours on each bicycle in their search for perfection.” -Jan Heine from Bicycle Quarterly



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In retail history

Zion Cooperative Mercantile Institution 1910

Zion Cooperative Mercantile Institution 1910

On October 9th, 1868, the first full-line department store in the United States is opened in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Brigham Young of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) founded the Zion Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI) to serve the people of Salt Lake City, Utah (SLC).

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In retail history

field_leiter__co-_later_marshall_field_building_by_j-_bullock“The formal opening by Field, Leiter & Co., of Potter Palmer’s new marble palace on the corner of Washington and State streets, last evening, was the grandest affair of the kind whichever transpired, even in Chicago, the city of grand affairs,” reported the Chicago Tribune about the opening of the Field, Leiter & Company’s new store on Chicago’s State Street on October 12th, 1868.

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In retail history

Southdale Center circa 1958   MN Historical Society

Southdale Center circa 1958
MN Historical Society

On October 8th, 1956, Southdale Mall opens in Edina, MN. It is the oldest fully enclosed climate-controlled mall in the United States.

The head of Dayton’s Department Store commissioned a study that determined that Minnesota only has 126 “ideal shopping weather days” a year.  With that in mind, Donald Dayton hired Victor Gruen to design and build a fully enclosed shopping mall.  The original design for the 500 acres included the mall, houses, a school, medical center and a park with a lake.  The mall and the medial center were all that were ever completed.

75,000 people attended opening day taking full advantage of the free parking arranged in animal-themed sections.  There were 72 smaller shops and two anchor department stores.  60 years later, Southdale is still serving the shoppers of Minnesota.