John Wanamaker & Co was one of America’s first department stores. John Wanamaker was born in 1838. He and brother-in-law Nathan Brown first opened a menswear store in Philadelphia in 1861. Some of the clothing was manufactured right at the facility. In 1876 Wanamaker purchased the old location of the Pennsylvania Railroad and opened the “Grand Depot,” his very popular second store, which carried men’s and women’s clothing and dry goods.
Wanamaker was a marketing pioneer, introducing the “Money Back Guarantee”. He was also the originator of the “White Sale” and had the first in-store restaurant. He was also one of the first store owners to clearly mark the price of an item on that item.
In 1902 the Grand Depot store was replaced, in stages, by a new Wanamaker’s store. This store, when complete, had nine floors of retail space. The centerpiece of the store was a giant bronze statue of an eagle. “Meet me at the Eagle” became a catch-phrase for Wanamaker shoppers.
John Wanamaker died in 1922, with family members continuing to run the business. In 1927 the menswear store was expanded to a second location and eventually there were sixteen Wanamaker’s locations.
No longer able to compete with the low prices of larger retails, the shops were sold by the family in 1978 to Carter Hawley Hale stores. In 1986 they changed hands again to A. Alfred Taubman, who also bought the Woodward & Lothrop stores, which Wanamaker was absorbed into. Two years later Woodward & Lothrop was lost to bankruptcy and Wanamaker’s was dissolved. Since that time the Philadelphia flagship store has changed names several times, and is now a Macy’s.
Written by vintagegent.com