Thursday, July 28, 2005

Another Philly Retail Icon Ready to Fade Away

My cousin, JustRose, blogged today on this very subject. How prophetic she must be.

I'll explain.

JR talked of the disappearance of a local retail icon that, sadly, closed down nearly a decade ago. The local chain, Clover, was rival to the giants Woolworth and K-Mart in Philly. As far as I could figure, Woolworth was not even good competition (the stores were dying out) and Clover kicked K-Mart's ass. But not according to Clover's parent company, Strawbridge and Clothier. The owners of the parent company claimed Clover lost more money than it made. They considered it a burden to keep the chain alive. In one quick fell swoop, they shut down every store.

The owners didn't give a crap about the jobs they eliminated. They didn't care it put a lot of tri-state shoppers in a panic (a lot of people liked to shop exclusively Clover). The owners were the heirs to the department store fortune. They wanted to make a quick buck and the way to do that was sell off the company. First, they got rid of Clover. Then the entire chain was sold in1996 to the May Department Stores Company. May Department Store Company is a part of Federated Department Stores. Strawbridge and Clothier, the names of the original Quaker owners, was changed to Strawbridges. The heirs made their money and washed their hands of it.

Here's the prophetic part.

As my cousin typed away on her post on Clover, Federated Department Stores decided to eliminate the Strawbridges name. FDS plans to convert 330 May stores into Macy's. In the places where the company has duplicate stores (totalling 68), those stores will be sold. A total of nine stores in the immediate area will be closed for good.

No more treks to the Strawbridges in Neshaminy Mall or Willow Grove Mall or King of Prussia Mall. No more Clover Day sales.

First, Philadelphia lost Lit Brothers. Then Gimbels. Then John Wanamakers. And now, the Strawbridges name will be erased. Where Philadelphia was once home to some of the finest retail department stores in the country, it will instead be honored with being mentioned numerous times in retail history books.


justrose said...

i'm not sure people shop "department" anymore the way they used to. i like them, but really everything can be found online, specialty or discount. and they don't merchandise to make it a destination anymore, do they? unless it's like macy's in new york, which went on forever. i do buy some stuff there, there are just so many options now! i can't remember what dept at wannies you used to work in, but i remember your explaining the ring tones they played.

your kid looks like you.

help yourself to my banner (which i made). what's family for? ;)

Maidink said...

a) Since 1992, my in-store dollar has been widdled down to almost nil. Christmas is delivered by UPS.

b) Isn't it scary? Amazing how our children our practically clones.

c) Thanks!!

Bigandmean said...

The same thing is happening in Houston. My wife's favorite store for years (since high school, I'm talking years here) has been Foley's which will become a Macy's next year. She's been in mourning since she found out.

Maidink said...

My mom is going through a mourning period, too. She'll probably by a black outfit at Strawbridges for the occasion.