- DEPARTMENT STORES
- DEPARTMENT STORES, an innovation first recognizable in mid-19th-century France. Similar contemporaneous developments were consumer cooperatives in Britain, and mail-order houses, chain stores, and "five-and-ten" stores in the United States. Only in Central Europe were department stores initiated and developed by Jewish entrepreneurs, except for the outstanding cases in Britain, South Africa, and the United States noted below. Of the five German department chain stores – schocken , tietz , wertheim , Karstadt, and Kaufhof – the first three were owned by Jews; although the last two were owned by non-Jews, they employed many Jews in top managerial positions. Jewish department stores were prominently situated in major cities; the N. Israel and Kadewe stores of Berlin and the Gerngross of Vienna were widely known. In addition, most medium and small towns had their own department stores, which were often Jewish-owned. The north German stores, founded in the last quarter of the 19th century for the sale of textiles, a field in which Jews were traditionally prominent, adapted to rapid industrialization and urbanization by expansion and diversification. Although department stores in Germany did not account for more than 4–5% of the total retail commerce, they aroused widespread and lasting hostility. The complaints and anxieties of small or specialized shopkeepers found support in conservative circles in general. Economic accusations of dishonest advertising and other unfair competitive practices merged with antisemitic attacks: the importance of the new type of Jewish shopkeeper was unpalatable to many; the very employment of Christian sales girls was distorted – they were pictured as being placed in danger of moral corruption by lustful Jewish bosses. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries this anti-department store pressure resulted in the levy of special taxes on department stores. Under the Weimar Republic these laws were abolished and the stores entered a period of growth and expansion. Economic instability and unemployment, however, again made the stores a focus of popular resentment which the Nazis were quick to utilize. Before and especially after the Nazis seized power the stores were frequently sabotaged and their owners attacked in the streets. The nationwide boycott of April 1, 1933, was specifically aimed against Jewish department stores, which continued to be harassed after the boycott was called off. julius streicher , as Gauleiter of Franconia, led a vicious campaign against the Nuremberg Schocken store. The German government was eventually forced to ease the pressure for economic reasons and even to save the Tietz company from bankruptcy. On "Kristallnacht" (Nov. 9–10, 1938), the department stores, as symbols of Jewish economic oppression, were burned and looted along with the synagogues. Jews played a major role in the development and ownership of department stores in the United States. The majority of such Jewish-owned stores originated with the 19th-century German-Jewish immigration to America. Many of these immigrants began their commercial careers as itinerant peddlers or small retailers in rural areas, where they enjoyed a virtual monopoly on merchandising; from there they expanded to large general stores, which eventually developed into the modern department stores of the late 19th and 20th centuries. A typical case was the gimbel family: after Adam Gimbel, a native of Germany, had opened a general store in the small town of Vincennes, Indiana, his seven sons established department stores first in Milwaukee, then in Philadelphia, and finally in New York, where Gimbels ultimately became one of the city's largest retail establishments. Its greatest competitor, Macy's, was not originally Jewish-owned, but was bought out in 1887 by the straus brothers, Isidore and Nathan, who had started by renting its basement to display the produce of the small glassware firm founded by their father Lazarus. In Brooklyn the brothers went into partnership with another German immigrant, Abraham abraham , to found Abraham & Straus. Bloomingdale's in New York grew out of a small drygoods store on Third Avenue owned by the bloomingdale brothers. Other New York department stores, such as B. Altman, Stern, Saks, S. Klein, and Ohrbach had similar histories, the latter two founded by 20th-century immigrants. Elsewhere in the U.S. large department store empires were also frequently the creation of Jews, such as I. Magnin and levi straus on the West Coast, William filene 's Sons Co. in the Boston area, Kauffmann Brothers in Pennsylvania, and Neimann & Marcus in Texas. The Chicago company of Sears, Roebuck, which came under the ownership of Julius rosenwald during the 1890s, became a vast mail order firm. Sears, Roebuck and other mail order firms, together with urban growth and the automobile, brought about the virtual extinction of countryside peddling as successfully practiced by Jewish immigrants. Jewish prominence in department store ownership continued, however. A highly successful chain of discount stores founded by a syndicate of young Jewish businessmen after the Korean War was E.J. Korvette, an acronym for "Eight Jewish Korean Veterans." Also prominent was the Farkas family, which owned Alexander's department store, a major entry in the New York market through the 1950s and 1960s. By the early years of the 21st century, the retailing environment in the United States had changed, and most of the giant chains started years earlier by Jewish merchant families had disappeared like Korvette's or were absorbed in mergers and acquisitions. Federated Department Stores, for example, started in 1929 as a combination of Abraham & Straus of Brooklyn, Filene's of Boston, F\&R Lazarus of Columbus, Ohio, and Bloomingdale's of New York. The stores operated independently for decades under the Federated umbrella and Federated also included Stern's, Burdine's, Rich's, Goldsmith's, and others, but in 2004 Federated, after gobbling up the May Company, decided to unite virtually all of its 400-odd stores under the Macy's brand name. The lone exception was Bloomingdale's, which grew from its New York origins to a high-end chain in several major American markets. Nevertheless, other enterprising merchants entered the field, including leslie h. wexner , who built The Limited, a chain in Columbus, Ohio, that specialized in women's clothing. By the late 1980s The Limited had become the parent of Henri Bendel, Lane Bryant, Victoria's Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, and the Express stores and had a majority stake in Intimate Brands, which included Bath and Body Works and the White Barn Candle Company. The Wexner family was involved in many Jewish charities, supporting youth development programs, Jewish agencies, and temples and a long roster of organizations in the United States and Israel. In Great Britain simon marks and israel sieff developed Marks and Spencer, famous for its high-quality, reasonably priced goods, and Sir isaac wolfson founded Great Universal Stores. The cohen family of Liverpool established Lewis' chain of departmental stores in the north of England. In English-speaking countries public opinion was not hostile to department stores and recognized their advantages to the community. The leading Australian department store line was founded by Sidney (Simcha Baevski) meyer , founder of the Melbourne Myer Emporium. Jewish businessmen and industrialists played an important part in the development of the modern department store in South Africa, sometimes called there a "bazaar." In 1927, sam cohen and Michael Miller, who had been in business together for 11 years, founded the O.K. Bazaars in Johannesburg and in time made it the largest chain-store business in South Africa. In 1931, Woolworths – independent of the company of similar name abroad – was started in Cape Town by Max Sonnenberg and developed with Elie Suzman to operate in other South African cities. In 1947 they became associated with Marks and Spencer of Britain. Other department stores such as Greatermans and the Belfast Warehouse were also developed by Jewish enterprise, while the countryside pharmacies of the South African Druggists Ltd. were largely the creation of Herman Karnovsky. Jewish involvement in department stores has undoubtedly diminished but new and notable entrepreneurs in retailing have arisen both in Britain (see green , Philip and kalms , Sir Stanley) and among Australian business leaders, many of whom are former refugees, operating chain stores and shopping centers. In Israel the Histadrut developed a chain of small department stores called Ha-Mashbir la-Ẓarkhan. The first one opened in 1947 and by 1970 there were 14 branches throughout the country. A single large department store, Kol Bo Shalom, opened in Tel Aviv in 1965. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. Uhlig, Die Warenhaeuser im Dritten Reich (1956), incl. bibl.; G. Tietz, Hermann Tietz (Ger., 1965); K. Zielenziger, Juden in der deutschen Wirtschaft (1930), 206–20 (on Tietz); Reissner, in: YLBI, 3 (1958), 227–56 (on N. Israel); Moses, ibid., 5 (1960), 73–104 (on Schocken); G. Rees, St. Michael: A History of Marks and Spencer (1969); M.C. Harrimann, And the Price is Right (1958); A. Marshall, The Gay Provider (1961); A. Briggs, Friends of the People (1956). (Henry Wasserman / Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.