QUESTION: Which of the following department store chains was never in the former Federated family?
A). Abraham & Strauss
C). William Filene's & Sons
One of the greatest challenges the American Treasure Tour blog team has is that it becomes very difficult to drop a theme when we get caught up in it. This time, the new acquisition of Rudi the Wanamaker's giant white bear triggered an examination into the strange world of department stores. It turns out that, like with so many different businesses, a web of innovations, couplings, partnerships and buy outs spanning over a hundred years has created interconnecting relationships between pretty close to every department store ever known. The chain established by John Wanamaker in the 19th century has changed hands a few times since its inception. After the Wanamaker family sold it to Woodward & Lothrop, who then sold it to the May Company. When they folded, Federated Department Stores took over, then changed their name to Macy's Incorporated - the name they have to this day.
Federated Department Stores was never about establishing new businesses. Rather, they were organized in 1929 specifically as a holding company for department stores. They sprung out of the successful Cincinnati-based Lazarus & Company, which had been founded in 1851. Fred Lazarus introduced the French-inspired notion of selling clothes based on size, not on style, brand or color. It's something people take for granted now, but it was a major innovation in shopping when Lazarus did it, and gained popular appeal. Lazarus' son, Fred Jr, was the man who convinced Franklin Roosevelt to change the date for Thanksgiving. When FDR became president, Thanksgiving was on the final Thursday of November. This was fine, but when Thanksgiving fell on the fifth Thursday, Christmas sales suffered. Lazarus convinced FDR to make the fourth Thursday the holiday - ensuring a longer Christmas shopping season and improving sales. The increase in profits because of this simple change was substantial, and Black Friday has become a thing since then thanks to him. As Federated, the company grew throughout much of the rest of the 20th century. They did very well until they over-extended in the 1990's. Declaring bankruptcy, but still manager to purchase the Macy's brand in 1994 during its own struggles with bankruptcy. They survived the crisis together and, in 2005, acquired the May Department Store chains, turning it into the largest department store conglomerate in the world and, in 2007, changed their name to the Macy's Group, Incorporated, which is what they are to this day. Unfortunately, things have not been going extremely great for Macy's since then. They have closed dozens of stores and laid off thousands of employees, but they are still a great destination for shoppers from around the world!