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Strawbridge and Clothier Industry Retail Fate Renamed Macy's, Bloomingdale's, or shuttered Successor Macy's Founded 1868 (as Strawbridge & Clothier) Defunct 2006 Headquarters 8th and Market Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. Products Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares. Parent Formerly May Department Stores Website None Strawbridge's (formerly Strawbridge & Clothier) was a department store in the northeastern United States with stores in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In its day a gracious urban emporium, the downtown Philadelphia flagship store added branch stores starting in the '30s and they enjoyed annual sales of over a billion dollars by their zenith in the 1980s.[1] By the 1990s Strawbridge's found itself part of May Department Stores until that company's August 30, 2005 acquisition by Macy's Inc. May had operated it under its Arlington County, Virginia-based Hecht's division. It was announced March 10, 2006 that this store would close on June 1, but it actually shut its doors on May 23.[1] On February 1, 2006, the former May Company divisions were dissolved and operating control of the Strawbridge's stores was assumed by Macy's East. On September 9, 2006, the Strawbridge's and Hecht's nameplates were completely phased out in favor of Macy's. History From 1870 to 1930, the 5-story S&C stood at 8th and Market. 1910s postcard. The store began as a dry goods store founded by Quakers Justus Clayton Strawbridge (1838–1911) and Isaac Hallowell Clothier (1837–1921)[2] in Philadelphia in 1862. In 1868 Strawbridge & Clothier purchased the 3-story brick building on the northwest corner of Market and 8th Streets in Center City Philadelphia that had been Thomas Jefferson's office from 1790 to 1793 while he served as Secretary of State,[3] and opened their first store. They soon replaced the old building with the 5-story department store (left) that would offer a variety of fixed-price merchandise under one roof for the next fifty years. In 1931 the company opened a modern store building on the site, the Beaux Arts-style limestone monument that dominates the corner today. Planning and design by Philadelphia architectural firm Simon & Simon began in 1928, before the Wall Street crash, but by ribbon-cutting at the depth of the Depression, the staggering $10 million cost of such grand construction nearly suffocated the cash-strapped company.[3] The building subsequently became the eastern anchor in 1977 of The Gallery, an urban mall connecting Strawbridge & Clothier with Gimbels, which had relocated from across Market Street to join the mall. It was the vision of S&C Chairman Stockton Strawbridge that was instrumental in revitalizing the Market East retail district in the 1970s, a vision that is still apparent today despite the demise of both Gimbels and Strawbridge's. He once said that his goal was to transform fading east Market Street into "the Champs-Élysées of Philadelphia."[4] The 1931 limestone tower nearly put the company under in Depression hard times. By 1977 it was the eastern anchor of The Gallery. In May 1930, Strawbridge & Clothier helped remake the American retail scene by opening one of the first suburban branch department stores in the nation, located in the Suburban Square shopping center in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.[5] In 1931, they followed with their second suburban "satellite" store at Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. By the 1970s, Strawbridge's had nearly a dozen branch stores in malls across eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and northern Delaware. The branches proved to have been a wise step: the flagship store posted only a few years of actual profitability, all of them during the 1940s.[3] The company also revolutionized retailing with their introduction of revolving charge account cards. In 1969 Strawbridge set his sights on competing with the emerging Target grade retailers,[4] launching the Clover discount store chain; the first Clover store opened in 1971. Located in strip centers rather than malls for the most part, Clover grew to have 26 locations, twice the number of full-service S&C stores. Most Clover stores closed in winter 1997. After successfully fighting off a hostile takeover attempt by Ronald S. Baron in 1986, Strawbridge & Clothier survived as an independent, locally-owned department store into the 1990s.[6] In 1995, in an attempt to become the dominant retailer in the Philadelphia region, S&C partnered with Federated Department Stores, Pomeroys, and the Rubin Brothers real estate development company to acquire their rival Wanamaker's,[7] but were outbid in bankruptcy court by May Department Stores Company. Subsequently, the thirteen Strawbridge & Clothier department stores were themselves bought by May Department Stores Company in 1996, when the Strawbridge & Clothier directors (mostly members of the Strawbridge and Clothier families) elected to liquidate operations[8] over the vehement objections of patriarch Stockton Strawbridge. Strawbridge died not long after the sale; some say he died of a broken heart. "He was the store, and the store was him," said his attorney Peter Hearn to the Philadelphia Daily News.[4] Store employees and the public-at-large felt a sense of loss as well: many employees rushed to pay off their credit card accounts in full before the sale was finalized, "hoping that the proceeds would go to the founding families rather than [the new buyers]."[1] At the time of the May acquisition, the Strawbridge's name was retained, and the Philadelphia area Hecht's stores (the former John Wanamaker locations also adopted the name). However, the Strawbridge & Clothier head office was closed and its operations were consolidated with Hecht's in Arlington, Virginia.[1] After the sale the stores operated simply as Strawbridge's, although exterior signage reading Strawbridge & Clothier remained in place at many locations until the stores became Macy's in 2006.[9] Some Strawbridge's stores had restaurants inside, like at Christiana Mall in Newark, Delaware. Strawbridge's was well known for their shopping bags. It was a paper bag, with navy blue handles. And it read, Strawbridge's in blue twice and red once on one side of the bag, and vice versa on the other. They were also known for their friendly employees. In the center of the flagship store was a large bronze statue of a wild boar. The legend had it that good luck would follow those who rubbed the boar's nose. The boar subsequently had a very shiny nose from all the rubbing. In July, 2006, The Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), owners of The Gallery at Market East, agreed to purchase the lower floors of the flagship Strawbridge's store. It is anticipated that PREIT will seek retail tenants for the areas of the building closest to street level but may convert some higher floors to office space. The uppermost floors had previously been sold and converted to offices; they are currently owned by American Financial Realty Trust of Jenkintown.[10] On February 26, 2009, it was announced that the developers of Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia were looking into locating their new casino onto three floors of the former Strawbridge's flagship store currently owned by PREIT.[11] References ^ a b c "Philadelphia Keeps Strawbridge Name But Loses Retail Tradition." The New York Times, July 22, 1996 ^ Strawbridge genealogy Clothier genealogy The Pennocks of Primitive Hall ^ a b c Milford, Maureen, "Upper Floors of Philadelphia Store to Become Offices," The New York Times, April 7, 2002 ^ a b c Gilpin, Kenneth N. "G. Stockton Strawbridge, 83, Dies; Retail Industry Executive." The New York Times, February 11, 1997. ^ Feinberg, Samuel. What makes shopping centers tick? (Fairchild Publications 1960) ^ "Strawbridge Receives Offer," The New York Times, April 22, 1986, p D-4 ^ Shope, Dan, "Strawbridge, Others To Buy Wanamaker, Federated, Boscov's Are Part Of $640 Million Deal For 14 Sites," Allentown Morning Call, June 22, 1995 ^ "May In Accord To Buy Strawbridge & Clothier," The New York Times, April 5, 1996 ^ "Historic Strawbridge's site back in limbo," Philadelphia Business Journal, March 10, 2006 ^ "PREIT's landmark Strawbridge's site has a tenant in Philadelphia," Philadelphia Business Journal, June 24, 2008 ^ Lin, Jennifer (February 26, 2009). "Another casino shift possible in Phila.". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2009-02-27. [dead link] External links Philadelphia portal Companies portal The Tale of Two Family Businesses v • d • e Store conversions to Macy's 2006: Famous-Barr | Filene's | Foley's | Hecht's | The Jones Store | Kaufmann's | L. S. Ayres | Marshall Field's | Meier & Frank | Robinsons-May | Strawbridge's 2005: The Bon Marché | Burdines | Goldsmith's | Lazarus | Rich's    2001: Liberty House | Stern's 1996: Bullock's | The Emporium | The Broadway | Jordan Marsh | Weinstock's 1995: Abraham & Straus    1986: Bamberger's | Davison's    1984: LaSalle & Koch    1949: John Taylor Dry Goods Co.    1947: O'Connor, Moffat & Co. v • d • e Store conversions to Hecht's 1998: Castner Knott      · 1995: Wanamaker's · Woodward & Lothrop    1994: Hess's    1992: Thalhimers    1990: Miller & Rhoads See also: Strawbridge's (part of division from 1996)