The courier. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1894-1903, April 12, 1902, Image 1
n mm h j a8IBaHaPc!aawaESaam aBaaapaBtwH aaL b roL. XFirr, tfo zrr LINCOLN, NEBRASKA, SATURDAY, APRIL 12, 1902 ESTABLISHED IN 1880 THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN IDEA Marvelous Evolution of the Department Store as Exemplified by a Lincoln Institution, With Something of the Personnel of W. D. Fits Gerald, the Man Behind it All r .JS" The men who do things are the men worth having: in a community. He who can make two blades of grass grow where but one had before shown itself has been the model citizen since the world began. But even this useful gentleman is being far outclassed in these high pressure days. This Is an age of surprises, of tremendous, rapid development, but In no other activity of the world has this been so markedly shown as" in mercantile enterprises. Ten years ago the only department store doing business in America was to be found in the small country town, where it was known as the general Store. Today no -city worthy of the name but boasts of at least one. Very few of these enterprises burst ,full--pojjoplied-Jntn'helnlBv" They are, in al most every instance, a product of de velopment. The Idea had its inception in Chicago fifteen years ago, and has rapidly spread. Even conservative New York is now invaded and the largest department store in the world is being built there. Lincoln now has four of these estab lishments, all of them the outgrowth of small beginnings. Perhaps none of them, however, so thoroughly repre sents the marvelous development of the small store with one line of goods into the large one with dozens of de partments as does the FitzGerald Dry Goods company, whose head is W. D. FitzGerald, and which occupies an en tire building at 1023-27 O street. Eleven years ago, In 1890, "V. D. Fitz Gerald and J. F. McCourtney, two young men who had had a number of years of experience in administrative capacities, started a dry goods store on South Twelfth street, in what is now known as the Walsh block. They began with a capital of $3,000 in a room 20x80 feet. A few months later they moved to 1036 O street, where they re mained four years. The business was a success from the start and after en larging the store three times It became necessary to find larger quarters. These were secured in a single store room at 1023 O street. Two years later the storeroom next east was taken in and two years ago the entire building was occupied. From a $3,000 stock in 1890 the store now carries one of il25, 000. In 1895, when the outlook for bus iness in Nebraska was not very en couraging Messrs. FitzGerald and Mc Courtney started a store at Peoria, 111., with the latter In charge. The develop ment of that institution has also been phenomenal, and although seven years ago the . capital was but $20,000,, the store now does almost as much busi ness as the. Lincoln establishment. The combined business of the two for last year was over $700,000. "The development of the department store," said Mr. FitzGerald, in discuss ing the matter with a Courier repre sentative the other day, "has been marvelous, but Inevitable. It was not a product of the enterprise of man, but a concession to the public de mand. We live In an age when every convenience and facility for the rapid and easy transaction of business is in sisted upon by the customer. If a wo man, for Instance, desires to purchase a cloak or a suit. she will also want to get a hat to match. In the old days she would have had to visit two differ ent establishments. Now she can find both in one. A shopper is usually In quest of more than one article. If she can And them all under one roof she will patronize that- establishment. It is convenient, it saves time, worry and annoyance. Especially is this true with out-of-town' patrons. They do not come except to purchase a nice biliof goods. We secure their "trade by'giv- more clerks in proportion to the amount of business done than the small one and the wage value of their labor is steadily rising. "The advantage to the public lies not alone In convenience, but In prices. The big store, with Its large capital and Immense trade, all under one roof, can undersell the single line store be cause it buys in greater quantities and therefore more cheaply and Us ex penses are proportionately less. When we began business in Lincoln it was distinctly a city of comparatively small stores. There were eleven dry goods establishments here. One by one these went out of existence, and the stocks of eight of them were absorbed by us. Mu.ch o? Jthelr trade went with them, and ve have been able to develop our aaHaaavaVaVaHaaaEiiFsIiPsfi aaaaaaaaaVK-ifFJSI aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaBrTfEvS&l aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaBwiU&$K?2Bl aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaf4&t3)SflSB aaaaaPaBrMjpB aaaaaaW K-- ?. sS-- aaaaB ;'Br-" Tff4 aaaaHL ' '"'-' lB:' -.-z aaaaaaaaaBLlaame jFtaVaaaaaY ' sSL?y a BlBZjB iW yBBBJfK. ' E&aaaaW. W. D. FITZ GERALD. Ing them the opportunity to get what they want and all that they want right here. "The department store is gradually but surely driving the single line store out of existence. In twenty-five years nine-tenths of the retail business of the cities will be done by them. This is evolution. It may seem, at first thought, to be a hardship upon the small dealer, but it Isn't. The really capable man or woman, the one who, under present conditions, could make a success of a small store, can com mand, as a department manager, more salary than could be made in. an indi vidual enterprise. They are spared the investment, worry and wearisome la bor that are inevitable with personal enterprise. They are sent twice a year at the firm's expense to the great mar kets. The large store, too, employs business entirely out of our profits. Not a dollar of outside capital is In terested and our development has been natural and not forced." Mr. FitzGerald has-been in the dry goods business ever since -boyhood. At the age of twelve years he ente'rd the employ of Lord & Taylor In- New Tork city. This was in 1869. He lived in New York until he was' twenty-one years of age, and then- went south, where he became thebuyer for the big retail house of Meankin Bros., of Mem phis. From there he went to- St. Louis as. a buyer for Scruggs, Vandervoort & Barney. In 1890 he came to Lincoln. All of thfr thirty-one years of his "business career he is but forty-three years old have been spent in the re tail trade. Being a man of patient per tinacity, he early mastered all of the details of bis business and it Is his grasp of them In his enlarged career that has brought success to the house. The management of a business ao complex ns that of a department str-e calls for business sagacity of a high order. The man who succeeds is the one who has that intelligence, applica tion and knowledge of the trade and trade conditions that enable him to formulate working plans capable of In finite extension. System is the secret of success in these days of great com mercial enterprises. It Is Impossible for one man to familiarize himself with every petty detail of management or to hope to do so. 'But if he possess es a. discriminative Judgment in the se lection of his aides, his department managers, and devotes his attention to the general management and superin tendsnee of his business, 'success is pretty certain to come "to him. Mr. FitzGerald, In his own person, exemplifies the truth of this theory; He Is a gentleman of quiet and unassum ing manners, but only a brief talk with him Is sufficient to Impress one with the thoroughness of his business qual ifications, the breadth of his business wisdom. This is the day of the Im personal In business affairs. Time once was when every patron of a store knew every attache, from proprietor down to delivery boy. In these days of great establishments this is impossible. It is not the personnel of proprietor or clerk that influences trade, but the quality of goods as compared with the prices asked, the treatment accorded to customers and the facilities offered for convenient trading. To Instance: It has always been the policy of the FitzGerald company to make every customer a satisfied one. If by any mischance or fault of the manufactur er the goods, even after having been made up, prove faulty or cause dis satisfaction a cheerful and ready ac quiescence in whatever the customer suggests is right Is given. That this policy pays has been amply demon strated in dozens of cases. It doubtless will be interesting to know that it is not so much quality but style or fashion that governs nowa days. Of course, quality is a desidera tum, but not the main one. It is the duty of each department manager to keep himself or herself Informed as to what will be worn or what is likely to be popular In the coming season. To keep up to date they make semi-annual visits to the great centres, Chica go, New York and St. Louis. Experi ence is the sole guide to buying, and if it so happens that the approach of the close of the season finds the store with goods on hand, they are sacrificed, dis posed of at any price. It is no longer possible to sell out-of-date goods. The expansion of rural free mail delivery and the widening circulation of news papers and fashion journals enables ev ery woman In the state to keep abreast with the times, and no last season's stuff could be given to her. And yet, marvelous as has been the expansion of the department store In the past, it Is yet in its infancy. It would be a rash prophet nowadays who would assert positively what the future will bring forth. We only know, how ever, that the development of the past has brought forward as heads of these institutions men like Mr. FitzGerald. whose public spirit and readiness to aid In community undertakings have done much in the upbuilding of the city.