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Zion's Co-operative
Mercantile Institution
Company typeDepartment store
FoundedOctober 9, 1868
FateConverted to Meier & Frank
or sold to Dillard's
SuccessorMeier & Frank (2001–2006)
Dillard's (2001–present)
Macy's (2006–present)
HeadquartersSalt Lake City, Utah
ProductsClothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares.
ParentThe May Department Stores Company (1999–2001)
Zion's Co-operative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI), 1910

Zion's Co-operative Mercantile Institution (typically referred to as ZCMI) was an American department store chain. It was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 9, 1868, by Brigham Young. For many years it used the slogan, "America's First Department Store."



Even though the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) had been headquartered in Salt Lake City for some twenty years by that time, they were despised by the surrounding community, as Young had disparaged non-Mormon merchants who had engaged in price gouging on necessities, and encouraged boycotting these businesses in 1866.[1] Mormon business owners were routinely charged higher prices by wholesalers who discovered they were dealing with Latter-day Saints.

Partly because of the impending completion of the railroad, and partly to create a more fair business atmosphere, it was Young's idea to encourage Mormon businesses to band together under one roof. By pooling their resources, they were able to make larger orders to sell materials and goods exclusively (at the time) to fellow LDS Church members.[2]: 8–9 

ZCMI was formally organized in 1868 and incorporated for a 25-year renewable contract in 1870.[3]: 19  The central component of this was the LDS Church's purchase of the Eagle Emporium, a conglomerate of mercantile companies owned by William Jennings.[2]: 23 

ZCMI became a formidable business force, eventually manufacturing its own line of boots and shoes, and a line of work clothes. It also sold everything from housing needs, lumber, nails, and the like, to household needs such as fabric, needles, thread, food preservation products, furniture, and draperies, even some beauty products; nearly everything the pioneers needed to survive and thrive.[4]

The former ZCMI Center Mall in downtown Salt Lake City, 2004

Based in Salt Lake City, it quickly became a household name in the community. The LDS Church was a significant influence in the company, retaining a majority interest in ZCMI until its eventual sale in December 1999.[5] The store was established by a vote from the Council of Fifty, an early organization in the LDS Church. The President of the store would often also be President of the LDS, with Harold Harper Bennett being the first President of the store to not also hold the LDS office.

In 1990, ZCMI opened its first concept store called ZCMI II. Featuring a smaller floor plan than its usual stores, this concept sold solely men's and women's clothing and shoes, while lacking other departments such as housewares, linens, and children's clothing. The first of these opened at Tri City Mall in Mesa, Arizona in 1990.[6]

In October 1999, as a result of losses for two consecutive years, along with mounting economic and social pressures, ZCMI was sold to May Department Stores Company of St. Louis,[5] ZCMI operated under its original name as a part of May's Portland-based Meier & Frank division until April 2001, when the stores adopted the Meier & Frank name. In addition to the name change, the Utah stores in Logan and St. George, along with the Idaho stores in Idaho Falls and Pocatello, were sold to Dillard's in March 2001.[7] May Co. was sold to Federated Department Stores (now Macy's, Inc.) in 2005.[8] In September 2006, all Meier & Frank stores were converted to Macy's.[9]

The ZCMI façade at City Creek Center, 2023

The façade of ZCMI was used in the City Creek Center, retaining the original ZCMI nameplate as a front for Macy's.

See also



  1. ^ Godfrey, Matthew C. (2007). Religion, politics, and sugar : the Mormon Church, the federal government, and the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, 1907-1921. Lehi, Utah: Utah State University Press. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-87421-658-5. OCLC 74988178.
  2. ^ a b Bradley, Martha Sonntag (1991). ZCMI, America's First Department Store. ZCMI. ISBN 978-0875794822.
  3. ^ Bradley, Martha Sonntag (1991). ZCMI, America's first department store. ZCMI. ISBN 978-0875794822.
  4. ^ Bradley, Martha Sontag (1994), "Zion's Co-operative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI)", Utah History Encyclopedia, University of Utah Press, ISBN 9780874804256, archived from the original on November 3, 2022, retrieved March 27, 2024
  5. ^ a b Knudson, Max B. (October 15, 1999). "May agrees to buy ZCMI". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). p. A1.
  6. ^ Jean Novotny (February 28, 1990). "Utah chain to open 1st ZCMI II store in Valley mall today". Arizona Republic. pp. C2. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  7. ^ "Dillard's to buy Logan ZCMI store". HJ News. March 29, 2001.
  8. ^ Byron, Ellen (28 February 2005). "Federated Agrees To Acquire May In $11 Billion Deal". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  9. ^ Barbaro, Michael (August 26, 2006). "After Smooth Sales Talk, Stores Take Macy's Name". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-08.

Further reading