Thom McAn is a brand of shoes and was formerly a retail chain. The brand is distributed by Footstar, Inc., formerly the Melville Corporation (now known as CVS Caremark) and is currently sold in Kmart and Sears stores. It consists of leather dress, casual, and athletic shoes (under its Tm Sport label). Until the 1990s, Thom McAn had hundreds of retail stores in the US, and was one of the oldest and best known shoe retailers in the country. The Meldisco (Melville Discount) Company operated shoe departments in a partnership with Kmart stores in the early 1980s. Meldisco was established in 1959 and for much of its existence was based in Mahwah, N.J. As of late 2008 the brand was now controlled by Sears Brands, LLC.
Ward Melville, chairman of the Melville Corporation, introduced the new Thom McAn shoe line in 1922, opening the first Thom McAn retail store in New York. The brand was named after Scottish golfer Thomas McCann. Within five years, 300 stores were open, and by 1939 there were over 650 stores.
The brand achieved the peak of its popularity and near iconic status from the 1950s to the 1970s, due to its combination of quality leather and affordability. There were 850 Thom McAn stores in the United States in 1955, and Melville became the largest American shoe retailer by the 1970s, operating 1,400 stores.
The popularity of sneakers in the 1980s hurt Thom McAn sales, and Melville Corp. began to focus on its sporting footwear division, Footaction USA. More than a third of Thom McAn outlets were closed during this decade.
The trend away from conservative leather casual shoes toward sneakers continued in the 1990s. In 1992, Melville closed 350 of the remaining 740 Thom McAn stores. In 1996, Melville converted 85 Thom McAn stores into Footaction outlets, and it closed the remaining 200 stores, ending the storied existence of the Worcester, Massachusetts, based retailer. Melville divested itself of all of its shoe retailing business, focusing on its CVS drug stores. A new corporation, Footstar, was created from the former Melville shoe lines.
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