Read's Department Stores
|Successor||Allied Stores, 1926|
|Headquarters||Bridgeport, Connecticut & vicinity|
|D.M. Read, Founder|
Read's Department Stores was a Bridgeport, Connecticut-based retail chain founded in 1857 by D.M. Read. Known for its classy, upscale merchandise, it was once hailed as New England's largest department store.
Founding and growth
In 1857, David M. Read and W. B. Hall opened a dry goods and carpet store on Main Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut, with Read going solo in 1877. In 1885, the business expanded to two buildings on Main Street and Fairfield Avenue forming a "very popular and elegant place of business." Read's became known for its classy, upscale merchandise and shopping environment, becoming New England's largest department store. In 1926, Read's moved to the corner of Broad and John Streets in downtown Bridgeport, where its flagship store ultimately had over 100,000 square feet (10,000 m2) of selling area on five floors. D.M. Read Company became a unit of Allied Stores in 1954. Allied expanded the store into a chain in the 1950s and 1960s. By then they were up to six stores in Fairfield and New Haven Counties in Connecticut.
In 1981, Allied closed Read's landmark downtown store, leaving behind a boarded-up building as a reminder of Bridgeport's brighter past.
In 1983, Read's opened a New York location in the Jefferson Valley Mall in Yorktown Heights, while in 1981 Allied decided to move Read's out of their original flagship store and into space recently vacated by Gimbel's at the nearby Lafayette Plaza Mall. Around 1985 its television and radio commercials featured the jingle, "Reads, Your Something Special Store". Read's operated in its hometown of Bridgeport until 1987 when Campeau Corp. of Canada, which had bought Allied Stores, merged it into Allied's sister division, Jordan Marsh of Boston, Massachusetts, and the stores subsequently took on the Jordan Marsh name.
In 1988, Campeau acquired Federated Department Stores of Cincinnati, Ohio and operated it in conjunction with Allied, subsequently declaring bankruptcy in 1991. As a result of the overall decline of Bridgeport's downtown shopping area, the Lafayette Plaza store closed in 1989, and all but the Trumbull and Jefferson Valley stores were closed by 1992 under the Federated/Allied Stores bankruptcy filing.
In 1993, these remaining two stores were converted to the Abraham & Straus nameplate when that division of Federated Department Stores merged with Jordan Marsh (as they were in the New York Metropolitan media market, they could operate more efficiently regarding advertising under the A&S name). In 1995 after Federated acquired Macy's, it consolidated its A&S/Jordan Marsh division into Macy's East and renamed the two former Read's stores with the Macy's moniker.
The former Read's Trumbull location was abandoned in 2006, when Macy's relocated into the former Filene's store in the Westfield Trumbull shopping center upon the completion of the merger of the Federated and May Department Stores chains. Only the Jefferson Valley Mall store that Read's opened in 1983 has continually operated as a department store to present day.
The former Reads Building in downtown Bridgeport has been converted into useful space for artists, run as a non for profit and is now called "Artspace". The website is http://www.artspace.org/properties/reads/
- Kenneth Best (July 21, 2002). "The View From/Fairfield; A Fitting Place for Artists to Take Up Residence". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-07.
- Samuel Orcutt (1886). A History of the Old Town of Stratford and City of Bridgeport Connecticut, Volume 2. Fairfield County Historical Society. p. 752.
- Photo essay."Centennial of Read's Progress Reflects City's Growth". Bridgeport Sunday Herald. January 6, 1957. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- "Handsomely Tailored Garments (advertisement)". Bridgeport Sunday Herald. October 14, 1896. Retrieved 2010-07-07.
- "Read's Marks 100 Years of Progress in Bridgeport". Bridgeport Sunday Herald. January 6, 1957. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- Nancy Doniger (January 21, 2001). "Old Department Store May Get New Life". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-07.
- "Jordan Marsh Co. acquires D.H. Read Co.". PR Newswire. February 27, 1987. Retrieved 2010-07-07.
- Read's Department Store Souvenir Plate - Bridgeport Public Library