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Palm Latitudes

First Primer : Buying the Store

November 26, 1995|Emily Gest

Confused by the ever-changing landscape of the Southern California department store scene? Look no further for enlightenment and a quick primer on what has happened to the temples of commerce during the past few years.

May Department Stores Co.

* Robinsons-May

Formed by the merger of independent stores Robinsons and May Co. in January, 1993.

* Robinsons

Founded 1883 in Los Angeles by Boston Dry Goods (now Associated Dry Goods); incorporated as J.W. Robinson Co. in 1891; merged with May Department Stores Co. in 1986 and operated as a separate entity from May Co. until January, 1993.

* May

First store opened 1877 in Leadville, Colo.; first L.A. store opened 1923 when it acquired L.A. department store A. Hamburger and Sons. The parent company, May Department Stores, closed several stores in California in 1992 while its May and Robinsons divisions merged.

* Payless ShoeSource, Inc.

Discount shoe retailer founded 1956 as Volume Shoe Corp.; first L.A.-area store opened in 1968; acquired by May Department Stores in 1979.

Dayton Hudson Corp.

* Target

Discount chain founded 1962 by Dayton's department stores, later to become Dayton Hudson after acquiring Hudson's department stores in Detroit; opened first L.A. store in April, 1983.

* Mervyn's

Hayward-based middle-market department store chain founded 1949; opened first Southern California store in Huntington Beach in 1975; acquired by Dayton Hudson in 1978.

Federated Department Stores, Inc.

* Broadway Stores Inc.

Emerged from bankruptcy protection 1992; changed name from Carter Hawley Hale to Broadway Stores Inc. in 1994; merger with Federated announced this August; all 82 Broadway stores, which operate under the Emporium and Weinstocks names in Northern and Central California, will be sold or converted to Macy's or Bloomingdale's.

* The Broadway

First store opened at 4th and Broadway in L.A. in 1896 by Arthur Letts, an English immigrant who had failed with his first store in Seattle; Hollywood store opened 1931; continued as a small local retailer until 1947, when Edward Carter, a 34-year-old Harvard graduate, became president.

* Macy's

Founded as a dry-goods store 1858 in New York City; opened first California store in San Francisco in 1946. Parent company R.H. Macy & Co. filed for bankruptcy 1992; acquired by Federated last December.

* Bullock's

First store opened in Los Angeles in 1907 at 7th and Broadway by Arthur Letts, founder of the Broadway, and colleague John Gillespie Bullock. R.H. Macy bought Bullock's chain from Federated in 1988. Federated regained control of Bullock's last year with purchase of R.H. Macy. In October, Federated announced it would convert 21-store Bullock's chain to Macy's.

* I. Magnin

Founded 1876 by seamstress Mary Ann Magnin, wife of Dutch woodcarver Issac Magnin, in San Francisco; opened first Los Angeles-area branch in a Pasadena hotel in early 1900s. Bullock's acquired the chain 1944; combined company, called Bullock's-Magnin, bought by Federated in 1964. R.H. Macy bought Bullock's-Magnin in 1988; announced last year it would close the 12-store I. Magnin chain. Some sites converted to Bullock's or Macy's; others sold (Beverly Hills I. Magnin on Wilshire Boulevard now a Saks Fifth Avenue).

Buffums

Dry-goods shop founded 1904 by brothers Charles A. and Edwin E. Buffum near Pine Avenue and Broadway in Long Beach; Charles' daughter, Dorothy, married Norman Chandler, third publisher of the L.A. Times. Expanded to 16 stores throughout Southern California; chain acquired 1974 by diversified products manufacturer Adelaide Steamship Co., which closed Buffums in May, 1991, due to dwindling profits.

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