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|Fate||Purchased by Carson Pirie Scott|
|Products||Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares.|
The L. S. Donaldson Co., Minneapolis, Minnesota, was founded in 1883 by Scottish immigrants. The flagship location, the first portion of which was constructed in 1884, was a downtown fixture for decades, and was known in its early years as "The Glass Block" because of its extensive use of glass in its design. The building featured a small dome on top at the intersection of Nicollet Avenue and Sixth Street, but it was dismantled for scrap metal during the Second World War. The building was significantly renovated following the war. The store was acquired by Allied Stores Corp. in 1928.
In 1961, The Golden Rule store of St. Paul, Minnesota was transferred by Allied Stores to Donaldson's, and operated as Donaldson's Golden Rule until the mid-1960s when the name was changed to Donaldson's.
Donaldson's flagship store left its longtime home on the east side of Nicollet for the new City Center development across Nicollet when the mall opened in 1982. After vacating, the original store complex, which comprised half a city block, burned in the 1982 Thanksgiving Day Fire as a result of arson, along with the adjacent Northwestern National Bank Building; the sites were replaced with and are currently occupied by Gaviidae Common on the Donaldson's tract and Wells Fargo Center (the successor to Northwestern National Bank/Norwest) on the bank property.
In 1987, after Campeau Corp.'s buy-out of Allied Stores Corp., Donaldson's was acquired by Carson Pirie Scott & Co. of Chicago, Illinois which made the ill-fated decision to rename the stores with the corporate name. Carson's in turn was acquired by P.A. Bergner & Co. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and formerly of Peoria, Illinois) in 1989, which filed for bankruptcy in 1991. Carson's and Bergner's are now owned by The Bon-Ton Stores.
The former Donaldson's stores did not perform well under the new ownership and in 1995 Carson's closed the Twin Cities area locations of the chain and sold the spaces to Dayton's' parent Dayton Hudson Corp.; many of these locations were valuable mall properties that would have been attractive to Dayton's competitors. In a strategic move, Dayton Hudson opened the first local outlets of its moderate Mervyn's chain at these locations, preventing potential competitors who had no local presence like Nordstrom from acquiring prime mall sites. By 2004, after the Dayton's stores had been renamed Marshall Field's, new owner May Department Stores acquired the Mervyn's locations — all promptly shuttered — and assumed responsibility for disposing of the real estate. In 2006, May Department Stores was acquired by Macy's.
The only former Donaldson's location that continued to operate in Minnesota was in Rochester at Miracle Mile. That location continued in operation as Carson Pirie Scott until 2002, when Herberger's (itself under the same ownership as Carson's) opened at Apache Mall in what was the former Montgomery Ward location. Upon Herberger's opening, Carson's promptly closed. Today, the former Miracle Mile location operates as HOM Furniture.
Donaldson's in popular culture
When the producers of The Mary Tyler Moore Show were filming Minneapolis exteriors for the opening sequence of the show in March, 1970, the famous hat-toss scene was filmed directly in front of Donaldson's. This can best be verified in the opening scenes—frame by frame—of the shows from the first season. Openings from the show's later seasons deleted most of this footage, but the hat-toss itself remained part of the credits for the entire run of the series. A statue of Moore was commissioned by the TV Land channel and now stands in front of the entrance to Dayton's (now Macy's) across the street.