It was founded in Gila City, Arizona Territory, in 1860 and moved to Phoenix in 1872. The store was founded by Michael Goldwater, the grandfather of U.S. Senator and 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.
Goldwater's was acquired by Associated Dry Goods Corp. in 1963 and grew to 9 stores in the next decades, eventually expanding into Tucson, Albuquerque and Las Vegas markets. In 1986 ADG was acquired by May Department Stores and in 1989 the Goldwaters division was dissolved, with 7 of its stores rebadged as parts of the J. W. Robinson's, May Company California and May D&F divisions. At this time the Tucson stores were sold to Dillard's because of overlap with May's recently acquired Foley's unit. May Department Stores merged their May Company California and J. W. Robinson's divisions in 1993 as Robinsons-May, reuniting the Phoenix and Las Vegas stores under one nameplate. Following the purchase of May by Federated Department Stores in 2006, several of the remaining former Goldwaters locations were converted to Macy's, while the former flagship location at Scottsdale Fashion Square was demolished to make way for Barneys New York, which also went out of business in 2016.
The Goldwater family reclaimed the store's old logo in 1989 and reincarnated it as a food company called Goldwater's Foods and now headed by Goldwater's granddaughter Carolyn Goldwater Ross.
- Edwards, Lee. (1995) "Goldwater: The Man Who Made a Revolution". Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0-89526-471-4.
- Goldberg, Robert A. (1997). Barry Goldwater. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07257-0.
- Hess, Karl (1967). "In a cause that will triumph: the Goldwater campaign and the future of Conservatism". New York: Doubleday.
- Kessel, John H. (1968). "The Goldwater Coalition: Republican Strategies in 1964." New York: Bobbs-Merrill. ISBN N/A.