Talk:Department store

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US Department Store[edit]

This section needs to be changed. Department stores in the US have three categories. Von Maur and Lord & Taylor are midscale department stores. They do not compete with Sakes, Bergdorf, Neimans, etc. JC Penney, Mervyns, Sears are low-end department stores. ManoloChoo 05:07, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

I've jumped in and dramatically changed the lead for this article. I think this gets closer to an objective definition of department store. I'd be interested in whether consumers outside the United States recognize the same distinctions as the US Census. I don't think deprecating department store is appropriate, given its common usage. --RJ 15:00, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

I don't think of Marks and Spencer as a department store and I don't think that many people in the UK do. The term is more narrowly defined outside the US Philip 06:14, 26 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Where did that whole idea of using department store to describe discount stores come from? I live in California and also here it would be strange to call a discount store a department store. I have been to Marks & Spencer (specifically the now-closed branch in Paris that was across the street from the big department stores) and M&S is definitely not a department store by West Coast American standards; it's more similar to the Ross Dress For Less chain in the U.S., which calls itself a discount store. I have no idea where that "junior department store" wording came from in the article. Anyone care to defend it? If no one does, I'll edit the article in a few weeks to minimize it and deprecate it as an archaic usage. I think the vast majority of English speakers read "department store" as referring to a very big store with many distinct departments that caters to the middle and upper classes. Coolcaesar 20:10, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The term "junior department store" is (or was) used in the industry, see e.g. [1]. Though [2] suggests it is deprecated (both as a term and perhaps as a format. The artice on five and dime should be referenced in this regard. So we get the question, what is Sears? Many of the stores are 1 story, they are opening smaller stores that are more Target like (and moreso I suspect after the merger with KMart. I've been to the M&S in Edinburgh, Scotland, and it seems like a Department Store to me, it had non-clothing items, as well as a nice supermarket. It was no Nordstrom, but that just means it was not an upscale Mall store. dml 23:40, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Having worked in the 'department store' business for 15 years now (in the US) I can tell you I have never come across the term "junior department store". There are indeed various tiers of department stores. The tiers are divided into three basic categories: Discount (Target, Wal Mart, K Mart), Full Line or Mass retailer (Sears, JC Penney, Macy's, May Co), and Specialty (Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom). Discounters sell a varied range of goods with lower mark-up. Mass Retailers are essentially the "department store" as they were grown from and defined the category (RH Macy to become Macy's owned by Federated). They sell both apparel and domestics (clothing, textiles, houswares) and often 'hard lines' (washing machines, furniture). Specialty retailers offer a precisely edited line of apparel and little or no hard lines. A higher level of personalized service is often a major differentiation in the category. "Specialty retail" is also applied to retailers that are smaller in square footage but also may sell at lower price points. They are specialty nonetheless due to their narrow product categories specifically aimed to a particular demographic (Banana Republic, Zara, Williams Sonoma). Though these retailers may or may not offer the high degree of customer service they often employ at a higher associate to customer ratio than the discounter or mass retailer. Often the term 'big box' is used. Big Box is just that, architecturally a big box. The term is mostly applied to retailers that operate in large, volumous space with few divisions of space (KMart, Wal Mart, Home Depot, etc.). In the US the term 'big box' often connotes a sense of corporate blandness and lower brow goods. However that is not necessarily true in the case of Nordstrom. Nordstrom is classifed as specialty retailer (or sometimes incorrectly refered to as "specialty department store") with high price point and a high level of service. Nordstrom is intentionally designed in the model of the big box but with plusher materials (lots of marble and wood). This is intentional on their part in order to create clear and open sight lines and open space in order to create a sense of openess. Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue stick to the more traditional department store architectural format of niched spaces, meandering aisles, often in the form of the racetrack oval to insure customer circulation. Lastly, the traditional department store (Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Robinson May) with it's cut-up space, multi levels, niches and aisles derived from the early retailers offering a mix of highly segmented goods (everything from gloves to pianos) sold in one large building. It was only natural that the space was designed as architecturaly segemented in a series of 'shops'. In a sense the traditional department store format is the earliest form of the shopping mall: lots of small 'shoplets' contained in a larger space. Axcordova 04:31, 23 July 2005 (UTC)

  • "Junior Department Store" is most definately a valid term in Canada. However, it is used mostly in land use planning circles, and I don't think it is commonly found outside of zoning by-laws. As dml suggests above, the term is waning in its usage. Originally, it was used in Canada to describe what Axcordova calls "discount department stores" (e.g. Wal-Mart, Zellers, K-Mart, etc.) (typically suburban, smaller, lower prices), as compared to (traditional) department stores (Eaton's, the Bay, Sears, Woodwards, Simpsons, etc.). Given how many traditional/full-line department stores have disappeared (Eaton's, Simpsons, etc), and the constant evolution of the department store concept and other specialty stores, stores like Wal-Mart and Zellers are simply called department stores today, without the "junior".
As for Marks & Spencers, it's important to remember that there is often a big difference between an M&S store in the U.K. and one in another country. We had M&S in Canada for decades (recently closed up shop), and they were definately not department stores -- more like a clothing retailer with a food hall. The outlets were much smaller than their British cousins. The M&S stores I have visited in the U.K., however, are larger, with a much broader selection of goods and departments, and certainly fit within the North American definition of department store. Skeezix1000 21:13, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
  • I think junior department stores exist. My defenition is: A department store located in a small area with little to moderate sales; can be called a general store.--Mac Simms 18:12, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
I disagree. A general store is much smaller than a junior department store. A general store is general because it is too small to have separate departments (essentially "mini-boutiques") for each major apparel label it carries. --Coolcaesar 01:45, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

More history anyone?[edit]

I'm planning to do some work on this article at some time, trying - among other things - to clarify the different terms and perhaps introduce the term "classic department store" for those department store that coined the term: those with many different and clearly divided departments, where each department had/has it's own staff and tills (cash registers) and where that staff doesn't just stay behind the tills but actually "work the floor". Eventually, this could lead to splitting the article into several (classic, discount, small town, etc.).

However, in the meantime I just happened to come across this historical piece, which may be of interest to someone wanting to expand the historical part. According to this, the very first department store, at least in the US, was in Cincinnati, called Bazaar and operating in 1828-1829, i.e. 20 years before the Marble Palace in New York: [3] Good luck! Thomas Blomberg 18:25, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

M&S in the UK is known as a Varitity store rather than a Department Store - due to the arrangment of most of its stores. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:14, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

Mitsukoshi in Nihombashi, Tokyo, is generally considered the world's oldest department store (1673, a full century before Austin's). Its location changed since, however. Fazalmajid (talk) 04:28, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

I think the history part desperately need expanding. In the United States of America, by 1960, every populated place with any pretensions to being a city had their own department store. These stores were destinations. They were where the better off whet to shop. I am trying to find out what motivated their creation, and why they were so important to the sense of place each city has. If you know could you expand the history section? If someone knows of a book I could read, please post it here. Thanks.
In the United States there were: Hudson's-Detroit, Macy's-New York City, Filene's-Boston, Wanamaker's-Philadelphia, Kaufmann's-Pittsburgh, Field's-Chicago, Dayton's-Minneapolis, May's-St Louis, Rich's-Atlanta, Goldwater's-Phoenix, etc. In Michigan's small cities there were Knapp's-Lansing, Robinson's-Battle Creek, Goodyear's-Ann Arbor, etc. Nick Beeson (talk) 18:49, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

Is this the first Discount Department Store? - The Fair Store, 1891 or earlier, Chicago, Illinois[edit]

It states here from it's founding the idea of selling for low prices, purchasing with cash. And starting the concept of odd prices, not ending in 5-cents. Ernst J. Lehmann offered odd prices to save customers a few pennies on every purchase. I am not sure what year it could first be claimed a department store - in this case Discount Department Store. Link to 1891 completed Fair Store, Chicago.

The Fair Store Chicago - according to this link the Fair Store of Chicago was promoting itself as a Discount Department Store in the early 1900's in 1905. It states in 1915 in a booklet published by the store stated "is still, as it always has been and undoubtedly always will be, the store of the people, the down-town shopping center for the Savers, the market place for the Thrifty." In 1925 the stores were sold to Kmart founding chain S.S. Kresge. Then again to Montgomery Ward in 1957.

1906 photo of The Fair Store:

Goldblatt's is another later Chicago example and a store that started as a discount department store in cities and more of a modern style dicounter in the suburbs.

Kidsheaven 23:43, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

Split into new article: Discount department store[edit]

The "Discount store" section should be split into a new article called "Discount department store". There are enough differences between a discount department store and a traditional department store that the prior should merit its own article (like Hypermarket vs. Superstore). Besides I am seeing overlap on individual store chain pages, such as Target (Australia)#Departments and Target (Australia)#Services that should be thrown into such an article. What's listed there is very common amongst most discount department stores anyways. 20:04, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

I just realized that there is a chain store article. What is the difference between this and a discount department store? 20:07, 15 April 2006 (UTC)
There is also an article called discount store. This is getting to be very confusing. What are the differences between a "department store", a "discount store", and a "discount department store"? Perhaps just putting {{main|Discount store}} would be more appropriate here, but I'm not too familiar with what makes a discount store a discount department store. 05:36, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

I think the hybrid of Discount and Department is simply an attempt at some spin to rid the establishment of any stigma that "discount" may bring by including "department" along with it. I say Walmarts and Targets etc move to Discount store and Macy's, Nieman Marcus, etc stay in Discount Store. Chain store seems like it can include any retail store that has multiple "chain" locations. J.reed Flag of the United States.svg 06:10, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

Discount store, contradiction[edit]

I am bringing this up on Talk:Discount store. 04:33, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

My finding a few spaces above The Fair Store of Chicago, Illinois was a discount department store, it was still built in the traditional multi-floor concept of department stores in contrast with the modern usually single floor discount store as in Wal-mart, Target, and Kmart. Though in moving to cities such as New York and Chicago, even Kmart and Target have or will be adding two floor stores. Kidsheaven 23:47, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

WikiProject: Retailing[edit]

Hello, a new WikiProject called Retailing has been created, and we invite anyone who is interested in joining to sign up. If you would like to join it, then list your name on Wikipedia:Wikiproject/List_of_proposed_projects#Retailing. Tuxide 00:36, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Split "Discount department store" to Discount store[edit]

I am proposing that Department store#Discount department store be split to Discount store (currently a redirect to the article associated with this talk page) because I seriously don't think "discount department store" is the correct name for all of the stores listed in that section. My reason is that 1962 was the year that Wal-Mart, Kmart, and Target were founded. Back then, the Dayton Company (now Target Corporation) was the first department store company in history to also run a discount store chain; however, Wal-Mart and Kmart are both older than Target. Tuxide 03:53, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Could be splits in to several catagories - I.E. Discount Store, Super Center (Hypermarket in Europe) (Hypermarkets in the USA I think all closed or changed names - American Fare-(Kmart), Hypermart USA-(Wal-mart), Carfour - French Company.

Smaller stores that have taken the concepts new directions - Neighborhood Market-(Wal-mart), Target Greatland, Closeout stores, Catagory Killers - Toys R Us, Home Depot, Best Buy, Woodman's, IKEA

The mentioned Superstore catagory Wal-mart Super Center, Super Target, Meijer, Super Kmart

Concepts ahead of their time - upscale dicounter Robert-Hall's Robert Hall Village, E.J. Korvette's two floor discount department stores. Kidsheaven 23:42, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

If nobody objects within ten days, I am forking the Department store#Discount department store section to Discount store. There is enough history and differences between the two types of stores where it wouldn't make sense to leave this as a subsection of the Department store article. Tuxide 19:57, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Ben Franklin[edit]

Just a note: the Department Store section should make mention of the Ben Franklin stores which have been around since 1877 primarily in small towns.

Sam Walton in his book, original stores owned by Sam were Ben Franklin five and dime stores. Sam had first proposed his concept of a discount department store to the Ben Franklin chain and studied Chicago area Kmart stores for ideas for his concept. I have his book and could later provide credit for book reference. The book was sold in Wal-mart and Sam's Club stores. Kidsheaven 23:31, 24 November 2006 (UTC)


The very first sentence of the article says "which specializes in selling a wide range of products". My question is, how does one _specialize_ in a *wide* range? Maybe change this to 'is characterized by' or similar. -- 14:48, 21 October 2007 (UTC)


"Debenhams, would therefore not be included in the British definition of a department store." - I would class Debenhams as a department store, as would 99% of the British population. I'm not sure what 'criteria' it fails to meet in the 'British definition', but Debenhams sell a wide range of products over several departments, each with their own tills (at least in the store I worked) and still have specific staff for selling specific products. I'm not sure what else you could class Debenhams as, its hardly a 'Large discount store with tills at the entrance'. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:42, 6 November 2007 (UTC)


I removed the entire section on Bulgaria. Its description of Sofia's largest department store was not only three times longer than any other entry here, it was also lifted wholesale from a Sofia hotel web site. PacificBoy 16:19, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Department Store Definition[edit]

When I accessed this article I thought I would find out about the history of department stores. Maybe tracing the development of the department store could avoid the problem of what to define as a department store, as, like any other business concept, it has evolved over time to keep up with consumer behaviour.

In terms of the definition of a department store, I thought it's called that because it has different departments in it, though the emphasis is on non-food. You could hence say that stores like Walmart in the United States or Asda in the UK are picking up on principles of the department store, but attaching it to what is essentially a supermarket. Debenhams is definitely a department store in the UK, and probably the most famous one. M&S are of a similar calibre, selling clothing and household furnishings just like Debenhams do, but tend to be smaller and only sell their own brand (not different concessions like in Debenhams). Does this differ in America? Because I feel that Wikipedia articles should endeavour not to be too country-specific. Maybe tracing the spread of the concept into different countries, possibly beginning with Liberty's in the UK, might help with this issue, too? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:22, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

Contradiction of claimants?[edit]

A contradiction tag was put in place for apparanetly too many claimants to the oldest department store. May people are able to claim a thing and I did not read any absolutes. I did re-word the claim of David Jones to follow more along the lines of a claim and not an absolute. There is no contradiction I can find. If you still feel there is a contradiction, please feel free to add a new contradict tag, or feel free to find and fix the contradiction. Thanks for the hard work on this article. Kjnelan (talk) 05:47, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Off-price retailer[edit]

Would Daffy's be considered an off-price retailer? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Grade4 (talkcontribs) 19:05, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Section OR for Types of department stores[edit]

Where did these definitions come from? Who determines which stores fit into these different types? --OnoremDil 03:58, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

I concur with you. Where did those come from? They are probably OR in violation of WP:NOR.--Coolcaesar (talk) 06:01, 3 January 2010 (UTC)


Company name: Jolly & Son Dates in business: 1810-1903

Type of business: Department store retailers

Type of company: Private limited liability company 1903

Locations: 20 Old Bond Street, Bath, Somerset, England 13-14 Milsom Street, Bath, Somerset, England , Deal, Kent, England 26 High Street, Margate, Kent, England Company history

James Jolly was born in the Norfolk village of Brockdish in 1775. His father was a linen draper, and, as the eldest son, James was apprenticed to the same trade. During the 1810s James moved to Kent where he opened a linen drapery shop at Deal trading as Jolly & Co. Ten years later he also established a bazaar in nearby Margate. The idea of multiple branches was relatively new but both towns held promise. Deal had prospered during the French wars as the Navy's principal anchorage and embarkation point and Margate was fast becoming a popular seaside resort. As a result the Margate business thrived but James now had help in the shop from his son, Thomas, and was determined to find a suitable place to conduct a higher class of holiday trade.

In about 1823 Jolly, therefore, took seasonal premises in Bath for the first time. A few years later father and son leased a permanent shop at 20 Old Bond Street, largely to sell foreign drapery and other fashion novelties to the carriage trade. Jolly & Son's new branch was a great success and from 1830 the Parisian Depot, as it was known, remained open during the entire year rather than for the winter season only. During the same year Jolly's Bizaar at 26 High Street in Margate was refurbished on a lavish scale and considerably extended.

In 1831 Thomas, who had taken effective control in Bath, moved the branch business to larger premises at 12 Milsom Street. in November 1831 Thomas placed a large advertisement in all of the four local newspapers, announcing the opening of the new shop. 'Economy, fashion and variety' were to be the watchwords of the establishment which was grandly called the 'Bath Emporium'. The new shop sold not only the foreign fashion novelties in which Jolly's had previously specialised, but also regular linen drapery, silk mercery, hosiery and lace. In addition it offered bazaar stock, china, jewellery, perfumery, stationary, toys and cutlery, which would have been on sale in Jolly's Bazaar in Margate. All goods were to be sold for ready money only.

The new showrooms were an immediate success, and within a few years Thomas had acquired the lease of the shop next door and fine roof-lit showrooms were built in the garden behind. in 1834 an imposing frontage was erected to unite numbers 11 and 12, with large plate-glass windows framed by pilasters and a fine fascia board with the words 'Jolly & Son'. The success of the venture meant that the Bath business had begun to demand Thomas Jolly's entire attention. By 1838 the Deal business was managed by William Hutchinson, the husband of James Jolly's deceased sister, Harriet, and the bazaar in Margate was managed by James Jolly himself who had never removed permanently from Bath.

The Bath business continued to grow, adding new lines like furs to the goods sold and providing additional services such as funeral undertaking. Thomas Jolly travelled regularly to Paris to buy silks, shawls and ribbons. By 1851 the shop had a large staff of sixteen male and forty two female assistants, of which twenty six lived in above the showrooms. Around 1852 Jollys opened a branch in College Green, Bristol, under the management of Thomas' second son, Frank.

During the 1860s Jollys developed a speciality in silks which were ordered from agents in France and Switzerland who dealt directly with the manufacturers. these buyers provided advice on the quality, price and fashionability of cloths and negotiated for discounts and exclusive designs. In 1873 Jollys' silks won a medal at the international Exhibition in London. Other stock was also acquired overseas, including linens from Belgium and Ireland and model milinery from Paris. In 1879, 13 Milsom Street was added to the premises and a fine arched doorway was erected to unite the new shop with the old.

In 1888 the showrooms were extensively altered, with fitting rooms and lavatories added to the costume departments and a seperate department for mourning goods created. By this time Jollys had adopted the peacock as a trade emblem in the decoration of the showrooms and the design of the store's stationary and packaging. by the 1890s the mail order business was extensive. Annual fashion shows were held as far afield as Birmingham and Swansea and more than 14,000 orders were received each year.

In June 1903 Jolly acquired the adjoining premises of Pearson & Son at 14 Milsom Street which was converted into a handsome showroom. The acquisition was celebrated with an exhibition of modern and antique lace. That year the proprietors, Jolly and his son, Paul, sold the firm to a private limited company, Jolly & Son, Bath, Ltd, whilst retaining the majority of the shares. William Jolly had moved to Hampstead in 1899 but remained nominal head of the company until his death in January 1904 whilst executive control was assumed by Paul Jolly. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:25, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

History of the term "Department Store"[edit]

From the article I see that the oldest department stores were likely in the UK, but did people actually call them "department stores" at the time? I always assumed that was an American term since Britons would call Harrods for example a shop, not a "store". I'm unclear what Victorians would have called these things. Business titles tended to just include a proprietorial name eg Selfridges, with no mention of "department store". I always thought the term store came from US general stores, or military stores, but even reading dictionaries I'm unsure of usage over time. Anyone?Gymnophoria (talk) 08:36, 28 August 2014 (UTC)