Abstract: Influences of Two Midwestern American Department Stores on Retailing Practices, 1883-1941

Gayle Strege

Abstract

Marshall Field's of Chicago and the F. & R. Lazarus & Co. of Columbus, Ohio, were part of Alfred D. Chandler Jr.'s "retailing revolution." These two American department stores substantially influenced retailing practices in the United States, before they were assimilated into the Macy's brand in 2007. At Marshall Field's in the late nineteenth century, Gordon Selfridge instituted innovative methods of selling, including visual merchandising, which he later transported across the Atlantic Ocean. He also hired Arthur Fraser, whose artistry in window displays at Field's transformed that fledgling practice during the early twentieth century. Fred Lazarus, Jr., not only revolutionized merchandising practices at his family's department store, but in 1929 he joined Lincoln Filene, president of Filene's Sons & Co. in Boston, and Walter N. Rothschild, Sr., president of Abraham & Straus in Brooklyn, to create the holding company Federated Department Stores, which would become the largest company of its type by 1965. Fred, Jr., was also instrumental in convincing president Franklin D. Roosevelt to move the American Thanksgiving holiday to the fourth from the last Thursday in November, creating more shopping days for the Christmas retail season.

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