Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution

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Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution
Type Department store
Industry Retail
Fate Most locations converted to Meier & Frank
Successor(s) Meier & Frank (2003–2006)
Macy's (2006-present)
Founded 1868
Headquarters Salt Lake City, Utah
Products Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares.
Parent The May Department Stores Company (2001–2003)
Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI), 1910

Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution (often referred to as ZCMI) was one of the earliest department stores in the United States. It was founded in 1868 by Brigham Young. For many years it used the slogan, "America's First Department Store".

History[edit]

Even though the LDS Church had been headquartered in the Salt Lake area for some 20 years by that time, they were despised by the surrounding community, as Young had disparaged non-Mormon merchants and encouraged these businesses to be boycotted in 1866.[1] Price gouging was commonplace as non-Mormons raised prices on necessary goods for Mormon patrons. Even Mormon business owners found themselves being charged higher prices by wholesalers who discovered they were dealing with Mormons. Partly because of the impending completion of the railroad, and partly to create a fairer business atmosphere, it was Brigham Young's idea to encourage Mormon businesses to band together under one roof. By pooling their resources, they were able to make larger orders to sell materials and goods exclusively (at the time) to fellow LDS members. Even wholesalers who disliked the idea of doing business with Mormons could see a good thing; larger orders meant bigger profits and making their prices competitive allowed the Mormon businessmen to increase the size and frequency of their orders. The central component of this was the LDS Church's purchase of the Eagle Emporium, a conglomerate of mercantile companies owned by William Jennings. Through the passing of time, all the independent businesses melded into what truly became "America's First Department Store".[2]

ZCMI became a formidable business force, eventually manufacturing its own line of boots and shoes, and a line of work clothes. It also sold everything from housing needs, lumber, nails, and the like, to household needs such as fabric, needles, thread, food preservation products, furniture, and draperies, even some beauty products; nearly everything the pioneers needed to survive and thrive.[3]

Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, it quickly became a household name in the community. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a significant influence in the company, retaining a majority interest in ZCMI until its eventual sale. The store was established by a vote from the Council of Fifty, an early organization in the LDS Church.

In December 1999 as a result of negative profit results for two consecutive years along with mounting economic and social pressures, ZCMI was sold to the May Department Stores Company (now Macy's, Inc.). ZCMI operated under its original name as a part of May's Portland, Oregon-based Meier & Frank division until April 2002, when the stores adopted the Meier & Frank name. In addition to the name change the stores in Logan, St. George, Idaho Falls, and Pocatello were sold to Dillard's. By August 2002 the stores were further consolidated within May into the company's Los Angeles, California division, Robinsons-May, though retaining the Meier & Frank nameplate.

The front facade of the ZCMI was reincorporated into the City Creek Center, retaining the original ZCMI nameplate as a front for Macy's.

Photograph of an entrance to the ZCMI Center Mall in downtown Salt Lake City prior to 2009.

By the same name[edit]

Across the street from the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, a souvenir store, snack bar and general store was opened in 2006 under the name "Zions Mercantile".[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Godfrey, Matthew C. (2007). Religion, politics, and sugar : the Mormon Church, the federal government, and the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, 1907-1921. Lehi, Utah: Utah State University Press. p. 28. ISBN 0-87421-658-3. OCLC 74988178. 
  2. ^ Bradley, Martha Sonntag (1991). ZCMI, America's first department store. ZCMI. ISBN 978-0875794822. 
  3. ^ Bradley, Martha Sontag (1994), "Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution", in Powell, Allan Kent, Utah History Encyclopedia, Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, pp. 576–579, ISBN 0874804256, OCLC 30473917 

External links[edit]