|Headquarters||San Bernardino, California|
|Products||Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, handbags and housewares|
The Harris Company was a retail corporation, based in San Bernardino, California, that operated a chain of department stores named Harris', all in Southern California. Philip, Arthur, and Herman Harris started the company with a small dry goods store in 1905, and the company eventually grew to nine large department stores, with stores in San Bernardino, Riverside, and Kern Counties.
The chain was acquired by Fresno, California-based Gottschalks in 1998. After the acquisition some of the stores continued to operate under the name Harris Gottschalks. In January, 2009, Gottschalks filed for bankruptcy, and on March 31 announced they were liquidating all stores. All of the original Harris stores that were still operating, were finally closed in July, 2009.
The Harris Company first opened in 1905. The flagship store was rebuilt at the corner of Third Street and E Street in 1927. The company made its first big expansion when it built a large anchor store at the new Riverside Plaza shopping center in 1957, the first large non-downtown shopping destination in the region. Expansion continued during the 1960s and '70s, and the company was able to hold its own against competitors, such as the Los Angeles-based The Broadway and Robinson's chain stores, by concentrating on the tastes and needs of local customers, and by building a reputation for offering high quality merchandise.
In 1981, Spanish retailer El Corte Inglés, S.A. acquired the Harris Company and its nine stores which included Bakersfield, Hemet, Indio, Moreno Valley, Palmdale, Redlands, Riverside, San Bernardino and Victorville. In 1997, the Harris Company invested $27 million to update its nine-store chain.
The Harris Company was acquired by Gottschalks in 1998, and the stores were initially renamed Harris-Gottschalks. Most of the original Harris stores eventually dropped the name Harris, except the Bakersfield, Indio and Moreno Valley locations, which continued to operate under the Harris-Gottschalks name. The original store in downtown San Bernardino was closed on January 31, 1999. After the downtown San Bernardino store closed, the Riverside store de facto became the largest store in the chain at 204,000 square feet.
On January 14, 2009, Gottschalks filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In March 2009, Gottschalks announced that it had lined up a group of bidders to liquidate the chain, if a buyer was not found by March 30. On March 31, Gottschalks announced it would liquidate its remaining stores, and on July 12, 2009 all of the Gottschalks stores were closed.
The original Harris Company store in downtown San Bernardino and adjacent to Carousel Mall is still remembered today for its magnificent Christmas and Easter promotional displays. The family likewise provided lavish holiday decor for its Riverside store and later others, including creative, automated window displays, which became a local tradition for shoppers. This continued until 1998, long after most other stores cut back on lavish displays.
Located on E Street in downtown San Bernardino, the original Harris Company building remained vacant as of May 2016.
The largest location in the former Harris chain was the 204,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) location at the Riverside Plaza in Riverside, California. This store was also the largest store in the Gottschalks chain. The store was purchased by clothing retailer Forever 21 which opened a new large-format store at the site in August, 2009.
- Rodriquez, Aimee L., Richard A. Hanks, and Robin S. Hanks. Images of America; The Harris Company, Arcadia Publishing, 2008. ISBN 978-0-7385-5901-8.
- FORM 8-K, GOTTSCHALKS INC. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, WASHINGTON, D.C. 1998.
- Dorfman, Brad (14 January 2009). "Retailers Gottschalks and Goody's file for bankruptcy". Reuters. Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 14 January 2009.
- Gottschalks may shut down
- Gottschalks makes deal with liquidation bidder
- Forever 21 opening new Inland stores, The Press~Enterprise, August 13, 2009. Retrieved October 18, 2009.