Watt & Shand

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The facade of the former Watt & Shand building in 2012
Watt & Shand
Industry Retail
Fate Acquired by The Bon-Ton
Founded 1878
Defunct 1992
Headquarters Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Products Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares.
Website None

Watt & Shand was a department store that operated in Lancaster, Pennsylvania from 1879 to 1992.


Mercantile apprentices Peter T. Watt, 28, Gilbert Thompson, 32, and James Shand, 29, of Hartford, Conn., opened the predecessor of Watt & Shand, the New York Store, on March 9, 1878. The New York Store featured lines of foreign and domestic dry goods as well as upscale merchandise. The first item sold was a 100% wool plaid shawl for $5.[1] Known for their customer service, the New York Store was said to have an unwritten policy of remaining open until the last customer had finished shopping.[2] During the New York Store's first year of operation, partner Gilbert Thompson died.

Soon after Thompson's death, Peter Watt and James Shand changed the store's name to Watt, Shand and Company. In 1880, the store moved into a building located at 8-10 East King Street in Lancaster. In 1885, the store name was shortened to Watt & Shand, and the store was expanded to include space in the building at 6 East King Street. In 1889, the store added a ladies' ready-to-wear department which included coats, suits, dresses, and underwear.

In 1905, Watt & Shand acquired three adjoining buildings at 23 Penn Square, eventually absorbing Rohrer's Liquor Store, Shenck's Hotel and Marshall and Rengier's Hardware Store. In January 1959, Watt & Shand acquired Appel & Weber, a jewelry store, and in June 1968, it acquired Hager’s Department Store. In August 1984, the downtown store completed a $1 million, three-year renovation. By 1991, the downtown store was 220,000 square feet (20,000 m2), cobbled together from seven different buildings.

In 1970, a second Watt & Shand store opened at Park City Center as one of the anchor tenants, which enabled the company to survive the exodus of large department stores in downtown Lancaster. By 1991, the Park City store generated 65% of sales, and virtually all of the company's profit.[3]

The Bon-Ton purchased Watt & Shand in 1992, for about $10 million, and the downtown Lancaster store officially closed in March 1995.[4]

The Watt & Shand Building[edit]

The Watt & Shand building is on the southeast corner of Penn Square in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Done in the Beaux Arts style, the building is four stories of buff brick with elaborate terra cotta and marble ornamentation. The oldest section of the building, facing East King Street, dates from 1898 and was designed by C. Emlen Urban. In 1916 and 1925, major additions extended the building toward South Queen Street.[5] In 1999, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.[6]

Today, the building is now home to the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, and immediately adjacent to the Lancaster County Convention Center.


  1. ^ Lancaster New Era. KNOW WATT - AND SHAND Pg. D2 November 17, 2006.
  2. ^ LancasterHistory.org. Watt & Shand Collection, 1934-2003 Retrieved on 4-11-2010.
  3. ^ Wall Street Journal. "Watt & Shand Is One Midsize Store Still Thriving Despite Credit Crunch." Apr 9, 1991. pg. A14
  4. ^ Knight Ridder Tribune Business News. "Park City plans $5M expansion" Sep 5, 2006. pg. 1
  5. ^ City of Lancaster Watt & Shand Building Retrieved on 4-11-2010.
  6. ^ National Register of Historical Places PENNSYLVANIA - Lancaster County Retrieved on 4-11-2010.

External links[edit]