Top of page

two story brick building the ground floor has a central front door flanked by two windows awhile the second floor just has two windows
C.F. Lusk and Sons Dry Goods store in Albany, Illinois, Carol M. Highsmith, photographer, 2019.

From the Dry Goods Economist 1909: Selling & Store Displays

Share this post:

The previous two posts about the Dry Goods Economist looked at some of the products that a dry goods dealer would want to sell in their store. For this final post, I wanted to focus on the business end of things and show a bit about what the magazine was publishing on what it took to run a dry goods store. Ads and articles would cover subjects like:

  • The best layout for the store.
  • What equipment was needed to display goods.
  • New ideas on window displays.
  • Was advertising worth it and what worked.
  • The products from a particular company.
  • What were the new companies and what were they selling.
  • What were the new fashion trends.
  • Were there any new sales trips and tricks to be learned from other dealers.
features products from I. P. Frink of St. Louis and New York including three chandeliers and case lighting
Cover for the Store Equipment Section Dry Goods Economist. October 30, 1909 (p. 97).

In my first post I included an image from the “Store Equipment and window dressing section” from the October 30th issue and I wanted to feature more from this issue. One article on page 99 that was a companion to the image I featured in the first post, talked about the “modernly equipped” store where “high-class fittings and admirable arrangement are factors in store’s success” and illustrated the use of some of the equipment highlighting the Marott Department Store.

That issue also featured a number of ads from companies. Detroit Show Case Co., the Grand Rapids Show Case Co., Wilmarth Show Case Co., and Quincy Show Case Works were advertising display cases while others advertised for other types of store equipment that included special skirt hangers, cable cash carriers, fake plants for window displays, waist and skirt forms, shelving, etc. Pretty much anything a modern store would need.

There were also articles that looked at store layouts and showed window displays. The November 6th issue had an article illustrating a 40×100 store and explained where best to put men’s clothes, shoes, and fixtures. Many issues throughout the year included articles and pictorials on storefront windows and interior displays. They even looked abroad for inspiration as seen in an article in the October 30th issue about Selfridge’s Fall Opening that included a few good photographs.

three photographs top shows all three floors with flowers and vines draped heavily from floor to floor second and third images are window displays with women's clothing
“Autumn opening decorations in store and show windows of Selfridge & Co., London.”Dry Goods Economist. October 30, 1909 (p. 107).

Beyond store layouts and window displays, they ran a regular column called “The Ad Critic” and even produced special sections like the “Ad Man’s Number” in the November 20th issue. This section had a number of pieces that focused on advertising, including one titled “An Expansion Sale.” This article was a bit of a case study by Arthur B. Freeman who had been advertising manager for Younker Brothers in Des Moines. It looked at the store’s expansion sale and the advertising that went into it. There were other pieces about a toy ad campaign and the ethics of borrowing ideas from fellow ad men.

many men and women sitting around long tables and in front of filing drawers working in the mail order department
“Office force, mail order department of the Cammeyer Store, New York. Dry Goods Economist. November 13, 1909 (p. 15).

The Dry Goods Economist isn’t the only publication targeting dry goods dealers. National Dry Goods Reporter and Drygoodsman and others have similar or complimentary coverage. For anyone studying retail history or even the history of fashion, beauty, and the garment trade, these publications would provide an important perspective.

This is the last in this short series and I just want to thank you for your patience and indulging me in this project. If you have questions about this title or are looking for something in it, you can submit your question through Ask a Librarian.

Do you want more stories like this? Then subscribe to Inside Adams — it’s free!

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.