The company was founded in 1888 in downtown Tacoma. The flagship store opened in 1895 at the corner of Pacific and 11th Street, which was the main intersection of downtown at the time. The store was expanded to the south in 1957.
Peoples first expanded in the early 1940s by operating a chain of appliance stores called Electric City in many Puget Sound cities. Many of these stores would later be expanded to include apparel and would be rebranded under the Peoples name.
By 1948 there were twelve stores in the Peoples chain. By 1968, the chain had consolidated its 12 small stores into seven larger regional stores. The new stores anchored several malls as well as stand-alone locations in downtown areas.
The company was shut down by its parent company, Mercantile Stores, in 1984. The flagship Tacoma store was remodeled and renamed Puget Sound Plaza and currently houses offices and a Key Bank branch.