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- There are a handful of US retail stores that have been around for over 100 years.
- Brooks Brothers has been open for over 200 years after its humble start in 1818.
- Big department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Sears, and Neiman Marcus are also some of the oldest retail stores still operating today.
With the closings of US legacy stores like Toys ‘R’ Us and Payless, it’s difficult to imagine a retail store lasting more than a few decades. But, there are a handful of stores in the US that are over 100 years old.
Some US stores have failed due to the rise of Amazon and are struggling to keep up with the competition. Meanwhile, some famous brands have weathered the online retail storm and continue to operate successfully today.
From Brooks Brothers to Walgreens, these are the oldest stores still in business.
Brooks Brothers opened in 1818 and still sells high-end men’s fashion today.
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On April 7, 1818, Henry Sands Brooks opened H. & D.H Brooks & Co., which later became Brooks Brothers. Brooks called upon his sons to help run the store, creating a family business that would last over 200 years. Today, the company is the longest-running retailer in the US and can even be seen worn by presidents.
In 1826, Lord & Taylor opened its first store and continues to operate to this day.
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Samuel Lord and George Washington Taylor, both immigrants from England, opened a goods store in New York City in 1826. They named it after themselves, creating one of the longest running retail stores in the US. But, in 2019, the company closed its iconic flagship location on Fifth Avenue in New York. More locations are expected to close throughout the year.
Kiehl’s still sells its luxury skincare products even though it opened in 1851.
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On Third Avenue in New York City, a rather unremarkable apothecary opened in 1851. It wasn’t until 1894 when John Kiehl bought the store and called it Kiehl Pharmacy that things really took off. Now, the company is owned by L’Oreal and has 79 locations around the US specializing in skin therapy.
Macy’s opened its first store in 1858 but still flourishes as one of the top retailers.
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In 1858, R.H. Macy opened a dry goods store in New York City and called it R.H. Macy & Co. Eventually, Macy’s store grew to take over the 11 adjacent buildings and sold a wide variety of products. Today, Macy’s has over 600 stores around the US, selling designer brands as a popular department store.
Macy’s now also owns another longtime retailer, Bloomingdales, which opened in 1872 by Lyman and Joseph Bloomingdale. They sold $3.68 worth of goods on their first day of business.
In 1867, Saks Fifth Avenue got its humble beginnings in New York City where it still sells clothing today.
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In the 1860s, Horace Saks and Bernard Gimbel operated separate retail stores in New York. By 1924, the Saks and Gimble families combined forces to open Saks Fifth Avenue. Today, the company has 39 stores in 22 states, selling high-end designer fashions for men and women.
Barnes & Noble started in the book industry back in 1873 and is still the largest bookseller in the US.
- Ted Russell
In 1873, Charles M. Barnes started his book business in Wheaton, Illinois, but it wasn’t until Barnes’ son traveled to New York in 1917 and joined forces with G. Clifford Noble that the company was officially established. During the Great Depression, the company opened its flagship location in New York on Fifth Avenue. Decades later, Barnes & Noble operates in every state with 630 bookstores. Every year, they sell about 190 million books.
Despite claiming bankruptcy, Sears is still operating after opening in 1888.
Sears started in the late 1800s as a mail-order catalog company where people could buy watches and jewelry advertised in a magazine. By the 1920s, the company opened retail stores because catalog shopping started to decline. Although Sears still operates today, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2018 after years of declining sales. In February 2019, a court ruled that Sears’ chairman could buy the company out of bankruptcy, saving it from liquidation.
In 1901, Walgreens was founded, creating the first drug store chain.
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Pharmacist Charles R. Walgreen, Sr. purchased his first drug store in 1901 in Chicago that measured 50 feet by 20 feet. Eventually, he manufactured his own medication so costs stayed low and customers were guaranteed satisfaction. By 1926, there were 100 Walgreen stores. Now, there is a Walgreens in every state, totaling 9,560 drugstores in all. Every day, the entire company services 8 million people.
Neiman Marcus got its start in 1907 and still sells clothing today.
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Herbert Marcus and his sister Carrie Marcus Neiman opened their first store in Dallas, Texas, in 1907, bringing high-end, fashionable clothing to the South. Over the years, the department store grew to become more and more popular. About 100 years later, Neiman Marcus now has 42 stores across the United States.
The regional supermarket Wegmans got its start in 1916 and has been operating ever since.
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Brothers Walter and John Wegman opened the Wegmans store in 1916, but it was called Rochester Fruit & Vegetable Company. Eventually, the grocery store grew to serve customers in a 300-person cafeteria in 1930. Today, Wegmans has 98 stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts.
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- We visited a lot of department stores in 2018. Here’s which one was the best to shop at.