NOW ABRAHAM & STRAUS

New York Times

BIG CHANGE IN A BIG STORE WHICH ALL BROOKLYN KNOWS
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One of the most interesting business changes of the year went into effect yesterday, when the retail dry goods firm of Wechsler & Abraham became the firm of Abraham & Straus, the new partners being Nathan and Isidor Straus and Simon F. Rothschild. The Messrs. Straus will need no introduction to Brooklyn shoppers who occasionally come over to New-York.

Mr. Rothschild is the cloak manufacturer of 440 Broadway. He is to be associated with Mr. Abraham in the active management of the business, the Messrs. Straus being advisory members of the firm. In the organization of the new firm Mr. Abraham retains a full half interest. He parts with the half interest which he acquired two years ago for about $1,500,000, upon the retirement of Mr. Wechsler.

Brooklyn shoppers cannot be told much about the firm of Wechsler & Abraham, and they will be pleased to know that the new firm is to carry on the business on the progressive lines which the old firm adopted.

Wechsler & Abraham have made themselves known in Brooklyn by a stay of something more than a quarter of a century in the neighborhood of the City Hall, growing with the marvelous growth of that city until their business has expanded to such an extent that the new firm takes charge of a store which is larger in floor space than any retail dry goods house in this city or Brooklyn. The building is capable of such further expansion, whenever extensions may be required, upon land already owned by the firm, as will make it the largest retail store in this line of business in the world.

Within the building occupied by the firm there are about four and one-quarter miles of shopping floor comprised within five stories, a basement and cellar. The area of store in cubic feet is more than 1,500,000. The firm has the largest private electric plant in the world, and supplies light by 825 incandescent and 250 arc lights. In times of ordinary business there are 1,600 people on the pay roll, and in the full tide of trade that number is increased to at least 2,000. It is estimated that 40,000 shoppers visit the store on an average every day.

The building in which this business is conducted has a frontage of 125 feet on Fulton Street and is 305 feet deep, thus giving a large area, all of which is utilized to the best possible advantage for the display and sale of the goods. This is what has come from a modest beginning, twenty-eight years ago, by Messrs. Wechsler & Abraham, in a little store in Fulton Street, between Johnson and Tillary Streets. The business at the beginning could be conducted by the members of the firm themselves and three assistants, and the stock of goods which was then carried, as may be imagined, was exceedingly small in comparison with its extent a few years later.

Although the magnitude of the business has become enormous, there is no disposition on the part of the firm to assume that it has yet reached the limit of its possibilities in that direction. The advent of the now members into the firm is understood to signify that in addition to the talent that has been exercised already in developing this splendid business there will be infused into the deliberations with reference to the future the experience and counsel of men who are thoroughly equipped for such work.

The house is already provided with a variety of departments quite as large as is to be to found in houses of the same general character, but with opportunity for the introduction of new departments and for the development of departments already established, there is no doubt that the firm will be equal to any calls that may be made upon it, and that the highest ingenuity will be exercised in order to keep it in the front in its line of business.

A partial list of the departments in the store at present includes silks and dress goods, cloths, laces, embroideries, cloaks, shawls, linens, gloves, china and glass, sterling silver, bronzes, ribbons, housefurnishings, upholsteries, art embroideries, books, furniture, carpets, and stationery.

Not long ago the firm issued an illustrated book descriptive of its departments, which is almost a work of art in itself. Beginning with the general view of the front of the spacious store, the pictures include sweeping views of the main aisle on the lower floor, which is not surpassed anywhere in area or general attractiveness; the mezzanine elevation, which overlooks in part the main and second floors and fronts the millinery parlor; the Louis XVI white and gold room, which cost more than an average stone-front dwelling and is used as an “effect boudoir” for trying on evening costumes; the housefurnishing department, which occupies all of the spacious basement; the trimmed millinery parlor on the mezzanine floor; the department for furs; the workshops of the firm, in which making as well as repairing goes on; the furniture department, which is said to contain the most extensive spread of furniture on a single floor in the world; the delivery section, which is so commodious and so well arranged as to have earned the designation of a pneumatic tube connecting the store and private residences, and an interior view of the stables, which shows how well the uncomplaining delivery clerks of the firm, the heroes, are treated when their work is over.

Everything that has been good in the firm will be continued, and the new members promise that they will bend all their efforts to improving upon the best and to the introduction of such new features in the line of their undertaking as shall place the store permanently at the front of establishments of this kind in the world.

[Historical Note: When this article was written, Brooklyn was a separate city; it did not become part of New York City until 1898.

Second Historical Note: Abraham & Straus no longer exists. In 1995, Federated Departmant Stores, which then owned both Macy's and A&S, converted all of the remianing A&S stores into Macy's stores. See http://www.federated-fds.com/company/his_2.asp]

Related Biographies:

Isidor Straus

Acknowledgements

Mark Baber

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