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TypeDepartment store
Founded1865; 157 years ago (1865) in Michigan City, Indiana, United States
  • William G. Herpolsheimer
  • Charles G. A. Voigt
FatePurchased by Federated Department Stores
United States

Herpolsheimer's was a department store company in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan.


William G. Herpolsheimer (1842–1920)
Henry B. Herpolsheimer (1868–1920)

At the end of the Civil War in 1865, Prussian-American businessman and Union Army veteran William G. Herpolsheimer co-founded the dry goods business Voight, Herpolsheimer & Co. in Michigan City, Indiana, in partnership with Charles G. A. Voigt. In 1870, he opened a second store in Grand Rapids. He handed over management of the business to his son Henry B. Herpolsheimer in 1902.[1]

There was an additional location acquired from Wurzburg's in Wyoming, Michigan, opened in 1974, as well as another store named Hardy-Herpolsheimer's in Muskegon, Michigan, which was later assumed into the Muskegon Mall in 1976.[2][3][4]

In 1987, the two Herpolsheimer's stores in Grand Rapids, at that time part of Allied Stores' Block unit, were sold to Federated Department Stores and adopted the name Lazarus.[5] Starting in 1985, the downtown store was also reduced in size, with part of it operating as a shopping mall called City Center. City Center closed in 2009 after most of its shops closed.[6]

During the pre-Christmas shopping period, Herpolsheimer's operated the "Santa Express" miniature train on a monorail suspended from the ceiling of the basement in its downtown Grand Rapids store.[7] The train is now located at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.[8]

In popular culture[edit]

Herpolsheimer's was also featured in the 2004 film, The Polar Express. The film's "Hero Boy" has a picture from Herpolsheimer's of himself ripping the fake beard off the store's Santa Claus. Later, as the boy is riding the train to the North Pole, the "Know-It-All kid" exclaims "Hey, Herpolsheimer's! Herpolsheimer's!" as the train passes the store in what is presumably downtown Grand Rapids. The children aboard the train admire the store's window displays as they pass, with the hero boy scoffing at an obviously animatronic Santa placing presents in one display.

Notable employees[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Vol. XVIII. James T. White & Company. 1922. p. 306. Retrieved December 30, 2020 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "Founded on actual merit and drama". Furniture Record and Journal. 67–68: 126. 1933. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  3. ^ "The men's furnishings department at Herpolsheimer's in Grand Rapids, does..." Department Store Economist. Vol. 15. Chilton Company. 1952. p. 112. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  4. ^ "Avisco Glo-Plush advertisement". Life. September 17, 1956. p. 184. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  5. ^ "Federated Buys Stores". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. April 28, 1987. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  6. ^ "Can Grand Rapids get more retail downtown?". WZZM 13. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  7. ^ Rademacher, Tom (January 22, 2009). "Museum seeks memories of Herpolsheimer's train to help with restoration project". The Grand Rapids Press. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  8. ^ Priest, Tim. "Preservation: Herpolsheimer's Train". Grand Rapids Public Museum. Archived from the original on February 3, 2011. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  9. ^ Haraburda, Scott S. (2013). Christian Controversies: Seeking the Truth. Meaningful Publications. pp. 50–53. ISBN 978-0-9886072-0-0.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°57′49.2″N 85°40′07.5″W / 42.963667°N 85.668750°W / 42.963667; -85.668750