61 minutes | Apr 20, 2021

New York's Famous Department Stores

An exploration of some of New York’s most historic and iconic department stores.We will explore how shopping habits have changed throughout the City’s history and the effects that commerce had on everything from women’s emancipation to holiday traditions.Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman’s, B. Altman’s, Bloomingdale's, Wannamaker’s Lord & Taylor and Bonwit Teller were some of the august names both past and present.My guest is Rediscovering New York regular and the show’s Special Consultant, David Griffin of Landmark Branding, https://landmarkbranding.com.‍Tune in for this fascinating conversation at TalkRadio.nyc or watch the Facebook Video by Clicking Here.Show NotesSegment 1The show begins by reflecting on all of the historic topics that have been covered and where they can be accessed. This then translates to a discussion on department stores with guest David Griffin who is a writer, blogger, CEO and owner of Landmark Branding.. He was originally born in Long Island and lived there for twelve years before moving a bit north to get closer to family. Many great stores in New York are no longer with us but so many remain. David majored in Art History in college and is an expert on New York history, He states that a department store is a store that sells more than one dry good. The first one in New York was Stewart’s Department Store that was the first to hold a series of fashion shows and helped develop a luxury experience when shopping. Siegell-Cooper is a store that rises and falls within a 25 year period which is rare. They originated in Chicago then moved to New York looking to expand. They grew to 120 different departments including a bank, arcade, ticketbooth and more.Segment 2Siegell-Cooper was a store that mixed dry goods with wet goods. They sold groceries along with dry goods. The downfall of the store takes place once the owner is convinced to sell the business after he over extends himself trying to make the perfect one stop shop. In addition, another store was rivalling him. Eventually he opens back up but people are no longer shopping at the same extent. Later, Macy’s opened in 1858. Business is not flowing at first but it does later. Once it does, they are forced to pay about one million dollars just to keep the corner of land they were operating on. Macy’s now hosts one of the biggest parades on the holiday of Thanksgiving. As a game, they used to have balloons float down on people who could then exchange it for a cash prize. This got shut down due to the hazard that it was creating in the 1930’s.Segment 3David founded Landmark Branding in 2014. The company offers branding and marketing support for real estate, architecture and design companies. The department store Gimbels becomes a major rival to Macy’s once it emerges. By 1930 they had several flagship stores including one neighboring Macy’s building in New York City. Gimbels was more plain and straightforward. It was not intended to be as fancy as the others. They catered to middle class people. Their downfall was their lack of appealing qualities compared to their counterparts. People began to feel like there was no need to visit New York just to shop at a generic store. B. Altman and Company was a luxury department store that was founded in New York in 1865. The flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York ran from 1906 to 1989 before falling to bankruptcy.Segment 4Another store that closed recently is Lord & Taylor. They were founded in 1826 and were located up the road from B. Altman. David recalls them as a convenient department store to stop in and admire their alluring windows.They also had great holiday displays. Sax Fifth Avenue is a store that branched from Lord & Taylor in regard to their windows along with their holiday celebrations. They were a store who hired artists to do their mirrors which acted as a way for two different types of artists to work together. Some consumers enjoyed the collaborations more than others. One of the most famous window artists was named Andy Warhol. He was hired in 1951 but did not get much popularity until about ten years later when he used his art as commercialism.
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