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Department store
Industry Retail
Fate Purchased by Carson Pirie Scott
Founded 1883
Defunct 1987
Headquarters Minneapolis, Minnesota
Products Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares.
Website None

Donaldson's, also known as The L. S. Donaldson Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota is a defunct department store company.


The L. S. Donaldson Co., Minneapolis, Minnesota, was founded in 1883 by Scottish Immigrants. Built in 1884, the building was known as "The Glass Block" because of its extensive use of glass in its design. That building even included a small dome at the intersection of Nicollet Avenue and West Seventh Street, but it was dismantled for scrap metal during the Second World War. It was renovated beyond its historical recognition after 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. The Golden Rule was purchased by Hahn in 1928.

In 1978, Donaldson's then parent company, Allied Stores transferred control of the three-store James Black Company chain of Waterloo, Iowa to Donaldson's.

Donaldson's flagship store left its old building for the new City Center development when it opened in 1982. The original store complex, which occupied half a city block, burned in a fire on Thanksgiving Day of that year due to arson, along with the Northwestern National Bank Building; the sites are currently occupied by the Gaviidae Common and Wells Fargo Center, respectively.

In 1985 the company acquired its struggling rival The Powers Dry Goods Company from Associated Dry Goods Corp., which gave it some breathing room against dominant rival Dayton's.

In 1987, after Campeau Corp.'s buy-out of Allied Stores Corp., Donaldson's was purchased by Carson Pirie Scott & Co. of Chicago, Illinois which made the ill-fated decision to rename the stores Carson's. Carson's in its 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 that were renamed Carson's did not perform well, and in 1995 Carson's sold the Twin Cities area locations of the chain to Dayton's parent Dayton Hudson Corp.; many of these were valuable mall locations that would have been attractive potential competitors. Dayton Hudson brought its moderate Mervyn's chain in to fill these spaces. This was done mostly in a move to prevent serious competition for Dayton's in its Twin Cities stronghold by upmarket out-of-town competitors such as Nordstrom. By 2004, when Dayton's locations had been converted to Marshall Field's, new owner May Department Stores also acquired the former Twin Cities area Donaldson's locations — all promptly shuttered by Mervyn's management — and assumed responsibility for disposing of the real estate. In 2006, May Department Stores was acquired by Macy's. In 1989, Carson's had already closed locations in Cedar Falls and Waterloo, Iowa.

The only former Donaldson's location that continued to operate in Minnesota was the location in Rochester, Minnesota 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 now operates as HOM Furniture.

Donaldson's in popular culture[edit]

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.

External links[edit]