Canal Street Retail 1897

Canal Street Retail 1897

Big changes in Canal Street Retail 1897 shook up shopping.

canal street retail 1897

The Mercier Buildings, combined as Maison Blanche, 1898.

Canal Street Retail 1897

canal street retail 1897

Front-page ad for S. J. Shwartz & Co, 3-January-1897

When 1897 opened, changes to the landscape of Canal Street retail were already shaping up. The year-end clearance ads published on January 3rd looked as one would expect. The ads in the first three pages of that day’s edition of The Daily Picayune tell a fascinating tale.

Simon J. Shwartz, youngest son of Abraham Shwartz, set plans in motion that brought the first true department store to town. Shwartz’s store, S.J. Shwartz & Sons, operated from the Mercier Buildings. Simon had the section of the building on the corner of Canal and Dauphine. In 1892, his family’s store, A. Shwartz and Sons, burned, along with most of the businesses in the Touro Buildings. This was the 701 block of Canal Street. The Shwartz family believed the fire was what brought on the heart attack that took Abraham, the patriarch.

canal street retail 1897

Ad for D. Mercier’s Sons, 3-January-1897

While the Jewish families dominated Canal Street, the Merciers operated two blocks down Dauphine Street. “D Mercier’s Sons – The Renowned Clothiers and Hatters” purchased the property in the 901 block of Canal in 1884. They won it at auction, when the chapter of Christ Episcopal decided to move uptown. The church sold off their magnificent church in that year. The Merciers demolished it, constructing a four-story retail building.

701 to 901 to 701

canal street retail 1897

Ad for A. Shwartz & Sons, Canal and Bourbon Streets, 3-January-1897

After the fire, Simon moved quickly, re-opening A. Shwartz and Sons at 901 Canal. He disagreed with his brothers on the direction of the business. So, the family moved back to the Touro Buildings. They secured the four-story building on the corner of Canal and Bourbon. This offered A. Shwartz and Sons a better location. So, back to the 701 block they went. Simon remained at 901 Canal. He gave the 901 store his name.

The Fellman Brothers

canal street retail 1897

Ad for L. Fellman & Co., 3-January-1897

Bernard and Leon Fellman operated Fellman Brothers from a storefront in the Touro Buildings. When the Merciers opened their building at 901, Leon wanted to move down the street. Bernard disagreed. The Fellmans split. Leon moved, opening L. Fellman & Company. His store stood on the lake side of the Mercier Building, next to the Grand Opera House (now the S. H. Kress Building). The store in the 701 block became B. Fellman’s.

By February of 1897, S. J. Shwartz secured purchase of the entire Mercier Building. He served Leon Fellman with a notice of eviction. Fellman had to hustle to re-locate his store. Leon convinced the owners of the Pickwick Hotel (named so because the Pickwick Club met there) to close. He leased that building, across the street, at 800 Canal (corner Carondelet). Fellman converted the hotel into a dry goods store, Leon Fellman’s. So, 1897 saw major expansion, where both Shwartz and Fellman greatly expanded their stores. Meanwhile, the others kept on going in the 701 block.

Shwartz renovated the Mercier Buildings in 1897. He converted the property into a single store floor plan. S. J. Shwartz and Company became Maison Blanche in October of that year.

Stability

canal street retail 1897

Ad for D. H. Holmes, 3-January-1897

Between Shwartz and Fellman stores stood D. H. Holmes, in the 801 block. Daniel Henry Holmes opened his store on Canal Street in 1842. He died in 1898. The store continued on until 1989, when Dillard’s acquired the chain. Holmes advertised a wide range of reductions on 3-January-1897. Silks to Brocaded Satin, to Opera Glasses, all on sale.

Dryades Street

canal street retail 1897

Ad for Kaufman and Isaacs on Dryades Street, 3-January-1897

Merchants on Dryades Street (now Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.) presented the biggest competition to the Canal Street stores. Kaufman & Isaacs announced “Sacrifice week” on January 3rd:

The coming week will be specially devoted to clearing up old lines of merchandise which were overlooked in the Christmas crush. Every price is special–every value is noteworthy. This is, indeed, the store of the people–the store of economy.

Marks Isaacs split with the Kaufmans in 1905. At the same time, the members of the Newman family who opened Maison Blanche with S. J. Shwartz left the company. Isaacs joined Maison Blanche. He later left MB, opening his own store in the 701 block.

While the players remained, the landscape shifted significantly in 1897.

More on Canal Street

Mr. Bingle 1952

Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley

To learn more about Canal Street Retail 1897, check out my books, Maison Blanche Department Stores and Krauss: The New Orleans Value Store.

Patreon Note: Usually a blog post such as this would be behind the Patreon wall. I couldn’t figure out how to publish a suitable 100-word introduction to the tale, though. I’ll make it up to my Patrons. We really appreciate you and your support.

 

 

 

 

Zoom Talk 2020-03-19 – Golden Age of Canal Street

Zoom Talk 2020-03-19 – Golden Age of Canal Street

Zoom Talk 2020-03-19

Zoom Talk 2020-03-19

https://www.dropbox.com/s/e0mrfn3mftjm4dz/zoom_0.mp4?dl=0

I’ve presented this talk to several groups in the last year or so. With everyone holed up because of Covid-19, I did the talk yesterday (19-March) via Zoom. It’s a bit long, because I was sorting out the use of Zoom, so you’ll need to fast-forward through the first 20 minutes of the talk to get to its actual beginning.

Also, TIL: it’s too long for YouTube. I’ll edit out that first portion and get it up there over the weekend. If you’d like to view it now, the link will let you download the MP4 version.

Enjoy!

 

Cash Boys kept the money moving on Canal Street

Cash Boys kept the money moving on Canal Street

Cash Boys moved the money before cash registers

cash boys

D.H. Holmes used Cash Boys up to the 1920s. Here’s a group of them in 1910.

Cash Boys

Cash Boys were employees of large dry goods and department stores. Before cash registers, these stores puzzled over how to control money on the sales floor. Cash drawers meant money spread out everywhere. Managers trusted their employees, but they didn’t trust customers. Shoplifting required security. Cash required even more security.

Stores centralized cash, usually at a “cashier” station. In some stores, a clerk sat in a booth like that of a bank teller. Sales people worked hard to please customers. Sending the shopper to a cash cage cut into customer satisfaction.

Enter the Cash Boy. The sales clerk wrote up the transaction. The customer paid. The Cash Boy ran the money from the sales counter to the cash desk. The cash clerk made change, stamped the receipt as paid. The Cash Boy ran those back to the customer.

Store Security

Stores, from Fellman’s to MB, to Holmes, trusted Cash Boys. They were usually children of store employees. They knew that stealing would cost the parent their job. Besides, being a Cash Boy had interesting perks. At Krauss, a couple of cash boys grabbed a quick nap. They slept longer than planned, though. When they woke up, the store closed for the evening. To survive the night, they made their way to the candy counter and sugared up! They didn’t suffer dire consequences, though, since everyone was glad they were all right.

Mechanization of the transaction

Multiple cash drawers required multiple locks and keys. It’s easy to pop open a simple cash drawer. As recently as the 1980s, Radio Shack stores used simple cash drawers. The drawers unlocked by pulling two or three levers under the drawer with your fingers. Simple enough, but a strong pull on the drawer forced it open. When the chain added computers to the sales counter (ironic, given they sold computers for years), a more-secure drawer became part of the system.

Canal Street stores stuck with Cash Boys until well into the 20th Century. Concerns over child labor motivated changes. Some stores converted to cash registers. Krauss Department Store favored a centralized system. They installed a pneumatic tube system in the store at 1201 Canal. They ran tubes from sales counters throughout the store to the office. A five-foot-by-five-foot box fan provided the airflow in the tubes. When a clerk sold something, they wrote up the transaction and put the cash and sales slip into a pod. That pod went in the tube and flew up to the office. The cash clerk processed the sale and returned the slip and change via the tube. Cash boys went back to school.

 

Canal Street, 1890s

Canal Street, 1890s

Canal Street 1890s.

Canal street 1890s

700 and 800 blocks of Canal Street, early 1890s

The CBD – Canal Street, 1890s – Before electric streetcars

A Mugnier photo depicts an interesting transitional period. Electricity arrived for buildings, but not yet for streetcars. That puts the photo pre-1894, but not much earlier. Mugnier stood on the corner of Canal and Baronne Streets. The left side of the photo is of the 800 block of Canal Street. Building numbers are still on the old system. So, the first address at the river was #1, then 2, etc. That’s how Kreeger’s is #149.

Notice that “S. Kuhn”, the store next to D.H. Holmes (left) has a sign that says “Kid Glove Depot. Kreegers’ sign next door says the same thing. In 1897, the Krausz Brothers specialized in gloves in their shop at 835 Canal as well.

700 Block of Canal

The Touro Buildings, in the 700 block, can’t be seen for the trees. Trees in the neutral ground of Canal Street helped beautify Canal. While they helped at the time, they cover up some of the street rail operations! So, there’s a carpet store at the corner of Bourbon and Canal. Fellman Brothers, in the 700 block, dissolved in 1892. It’s hard to tell if the Fellman store is Fellman Brothers (pre-1892), or B. Fellman. Leon Fellman split with brother Bernard in 1892. He moved his store down to the Mercier Buildings, as did S.J. Shwartz. He split with his family after the 1892 fire at A. Shwartz and Son. Abram passed away, and Simon also opened a new store in the Mercier Buildings.

Streetcars

“Bob-tail” streetcars from the Johnson Car Company sit on either side of the Clay Monument. Clay’s full base is visible. Mules provide the streetcar power. So, when the Canal Street line was electrified, the base was cut back drastically. On the right, one streetcar travels inbound, possibly turning at St. Charles Avenue. Two horse-drawn Hanson cabs sit on opposite sides of the neutral ground

 

Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store

by Edward J. Branley

Heather Elizabeth Designs

For almost one hundred years, generations of New Orleans shoppers flocked to Krauss. The Canal Street store was hailed for its vast merchandise selection and quality customer service. In its early days, it sold lace and fabric to the ladies of the notorious red-light district of Storyville. The store’s renowned lunch counter, Eddie’s at Krauss, served Eddie Baquet’s authentic New Orleans cuisine to customers and celebrities such as Julia Child. Although the beloved store finally closed its doors in 1997, Krauss is still fondly remembered as a retail haven. With vintage photographs, interviews with store insiders and a wealth of research, historian Edward J. Branley brings the story of New Orleans’ Creole department store back to life.

Podcast – “Ain’t Dere No More” with Heather Elizabeth Designs

Podcast – “Ain’t Dere No More” with Heather Elizabeth Designs

Heather Elizabeth Designs!

heather elizabeth designs

“Ain’t Dere No More Affirmation Bracelet” by Heather Elizabeth Designs

Heather Elizabeth Designs – Ain’t Dere No More!

This week’s pod is a departure for NOLA History Guy Podcast – it’s an interview! Been wanting to get this started for a while now. Heather and I were brainstorming a couple of weeks ago about tying promotion of my books with her ADNM jewelry, nightlights, and other items. I bought a Zoom H5 digital audio recorder a few weeks back. It’s incredibly portable, and the built-in mics are so good, many podcasters use the Zoom mic as their primary microphone, connected to a computer. So, I told Heather that we needed to sit down and talk history. This lady researches her pieces and knows her stuff.

What we did for the pod was to go around her “Ain’t Dere No More Affirmation Bracelet” and talk about the places represented by the various logos. It was a fun conversation. Here’s a brief run-down:

Rosenberg’s Furniture

You’re already singing the jingle. Admit it, you know you are.

Da Beach!

Heather Elizabeth Designs

Pontchartrain Beach t-shirt from New Orleans Public Service

Heather and I decided we need to do a full episode together and talk about Pontchartrain Beach. We’ll do that in May or so, since that’s when Da Beach opened every year. New Orleans Public Service not only has a Pontchartrain Beach t-shirt, but it features the Art Deco-style entrance to the Zephyr, the wooden roller coaster that was the amusement park’s signature ride.

Falstaff

heather elizabeth designs

Falstaff Brewery, now the Falstaff Apartments (courtesy Flickr user “Falstaff Tulane Broad”

A long-time New Orleans landmark, the old brewery is now the Falstaff Apartments, at 2600 Gravier Street.

K&B

K&B Drug Stores, by John Epstein.

Everybody’s got a K&B story or four. We shared some of ours. This will definitely be another pod at some point. The photo here is the cover of John Epstein’s wonderful book, K&B Drug Stores, from my publisher, Arcadia.

D. H. Holmes

Heather Elizabeth Designs

800 block of Canal Street, 1864 featuring the D.H. Holmes Dry Goods Store

Daniel Henry Holmes opened his dry goods store in 1842, and it became a New Orleans fixture and landmark. The building is still there, as a hotel.

Schwegmann’s

heather elizabeth designs

Schwegmann Brothers Giant Supermarket, 2701 Airline Highway, in 1954. (courtesy NOLA.com)

“Makin’ Groceries, Schwegmann Style” – the photo is of the Schwegmann’s Heather talks about, not the smaller store on Airline that I remembered. Ann Maloney of Da Paper did a nice article on The People’s Grocer: John G. Schwegmann (2017, Neutral Ground Press, $20). The article has a bunch of other great Schwegmann’s photos.

JAX Beer!

heather elizabeth designs

JAX Brewery, the Moonwalk, and a Riverfront Streetcar (Infrogmation photo)

The Fabacher family’s brewery, located across the street on Decatur from Jackson Square.

Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store

Heather Elizabeth Designs

Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store by Edward J. Branley

My latest book! It’s available for pre-order on Amazon.com now, and will be in local shops on September 25th. Heather has the logo as it was used regularly by the store on the bracelet. The book’s cover is reversed to make the store’s name stand out a bit more.

Heather Elizabeth Designs

Sacred Heart brass-and-silver cuff, from Heather Elizabeth Designs (Edward Branley photo)

In addition to Heather’s ADNM bracelet, I could not take my eyes off her latest piece, a brass and sterling cuff with a Sacred Heart charm set in it. Heather’s an Academy of the Sacred Heart girl, and I’m a Brothers of the Sacred Heart boy!

Shout-Outs

New Orleans Public Service and LA46 – great t-shirts and a great store and venue

Beyond Bourbon St – Mark Bologna’s fantastic podcast

heather elizabeth designs

The Station – coffee shop on Bienville at N. Alexander Streets

Rate NOLA History Guy!

Please go out to iTunes Podcasts and rate us. It helps our visibility greatly!

Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store

by Edward J. Branley

Heather Elizabeth Designs

For almost one hundred years, generations of New Orleans shoppers flocked to Krauss. The Canal Street store was hailed for its vast merchandise selection and quality customer service. In its early days, it sold lace and fabric to the ladies of the notorious red-light district of Storyville. The store’s renowned lunch counter, Eddie’s at Krauss, served Eddie Baquet’s authentic New Orleans cuisine to customers and celebrities such as Julia Child. Although the beloved store finally closed its doors in 1997, Krauss is still fondly remembered as a retail haven. With vintage photographs, interviews with store insiders and a wealth of research, historian Edward J. Branley brings the story of New Orleans’ Creole department store back to life.