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  1. The Amazing and Wonderful Famous-Barr As I begin posting my series of Christmas short stories and novellas set in this department store, I am struck by how paltry and sad the Wikipedia entry is for this amazing company. In an effort to improve that article, I have created this short summary, which I hope to tweak and eventually add to wiki. My information comes from first-hand sources, primarily documents made by the company, such as employee newsletters and handbooks, and history books concerning the development of Saint Louis in the 19th century. Please feel free to leave me any feedback, as I do wish this material to be rock-solid and accurate. ---------------------------------------------------- Famous-Barr Overview: With origins stretching back to 1849, and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of annual sales, Famous-Barr was one of the oldest, largest, and most successful department stores companies in history. It was the flagship enterprise of the multi-national May Company, whose conglomeration of retail, department stores, and shopping malls were headquartered in the same downtown Saint Louis structure as Famous-Barr, The Railway Exchange Building. At the end of the 20th century, The May Company embarked on an aggressive expansion campaign, and by 2006, held more retail assets than their nearest rival, The Federated Department Stores Company. However, in that year, May merged with Federated, and all 30-plus Famous-Barr stores began operating under the 'Macy's' moniker. History: William P. Barr and Company William Barr was born in Scotland 1827 and immigrated to the United States as a lad at the age of thirteen. He entered the dry goods business in New York soon thereafter, and quickly rose to management positions. In 1849 he was entrusted by his firm with the capital to open a company in Saint Louis, which he did, and which quickly grew to be a major retailer and wholesaler. Barr's soon achieved financial independence, and through expansion and acquisitions grew to have no rival in the West. By 1880, the store had annual sales topping $2.5 million and moved into the Julia Building, thereby making it the largest retailer in the world. This impressive granite structure, completed in 1869, covered half a city block, fronted Sixth Street, and offered a basement level perfect for special events and promotions. The store took advantage of that fact, and for the Christmas season of 1880 offered the first-ever department store Santa Claus for children to visit free of charge. Two other stores, one in New York, and one in Connecticut, claim to be the origin of the tradition, but in the 1890's (well after Barr's); the NY store put an Santa actor in their window where no one could visit with him, and the CT store's owner dressed as Santa for a holiday parade, but was again not stationed in the store for visitors. Barr's originated the concept we know and love. By about 1900, Barr's occupied the entire block between Sixth and Seventh Streets, and Olive and Locust Streets, roughly 310,000 square feet of showrooms. In addition, they had a powerhouse, warehouse, wholesale division, mail order section, candy kitchen and bakery, plus shipping and receiving in a ten-story facility one block away at Saint Charles and Seventh Street. Famous Established in 1870 as primarily a men's ready-to-wear haberdashery, the establishment apparently had no memorable name above its door. Company history has it that an early customer arrived one day saying word of mouth was spreading rapidly in his rural area, and that the store was becoming quite famous in surrounding parts. The name Famous was instantly and officially adopted. The business grew rapidly, primarily due to the fact that ready-to-wear was a new concept in the 1870s, and Saint Louis firms like Rice, Stix and Company were in the vanguard of making affordable clothing in factory-like settings. The business grew rapidly, and became recognized as a leader of local civic pride with its entries in the Veiled Prophet Parades. They expanded their lines to full department store status with a move to an impressive structure in 1884, and then again to ever larger quarters in 1890, but still focused primarily on fashionable menswear. In 1892, tragedy struck. A fire damaged a part of the store's facilities and much of its merchandise. The insurance company paid off the claim, but seized the operations. This is where another immigrant and successful businessman enters the picture. David May bought Famous in a fire sale for $150,000. He had gone out as a young man from his native Germany to the Colorado gold rush. By the time he arrived, all the good claims were taken, but May looked around and saw the miners were flushed with cash but starved for clothes and other luxuries. He pooled his money and procured goods from wholesales like William P. Barr Company and made a fortune in Leadville. He opened his own mercantiles in many Colorado towns and cities, but kept his eyes on the big-time. The fire sale of Famous was his 'in' to one of the largest business markets in the United States (STL was the fourth largest city in the country) , and a foothold to compete against commercial giants like Barr's. May then formed a company to be a conglomeration of his different department store holdings, of which Famous was the new flagship enterprise. He procured a rental facility on Broadway and Morgan Streets, and the new Famous Company opened its doors in September 1892 with a gala event. May continued to purchase department stores in other cities, and each operated with its original name under the umbrella of The May Company, whose headquarters were established in the same building with Famous. Famous-Barr In the latter half of 1911, William P. Barr and Company was in disarray. Earlier in the year, the massive store had temporally closed its doors to begin demolition and construction of The Railway Exchange Building. As the upstanding businessman that Mr. Barr was, he retained the entire staff on salary, but made an arguable mistake in not seeking out temporary space to keep Barr's operations going during construction. Cost overruns, particularly due to the enormous building needing to be built atop an ancient sandbar, made the board members nervous. When Mr. Barr passed away, these gentlemen approached David May. The merger of The Famous Company and William P. Barr and Company occurred in 1911, and was finalized by the start of the new year. An advertisement in February 1912 announced the formation of the new 'Famous and Barr Company.' Ad announcing the formation of the new company from February 12, 1912. The newly merged company continued on with The Railway Exchange project and moved in on September 8th, 1913, making Famous-Barr the largest department store in the world on that day. This beautiful building, clad in ivory-colored terracotta, covers an entire city block, rises 21 stories, and provides nearly 30 acres of floor space, or in excess of 1,300,000 usable square feet. The structure remained the world's largest commercial building until the 40-story Equitable Building in Manhattan finally managed to offer more floor space in 1915. Operations thrived, with annual sales topping over $40 million in the early years – at a time when the Federal Budget of the United States was $69 million a year – and Famous-Barr became a model for progressive business practices, offering employee healthcare, retirement plans, 40-hour workweeks, and equal employment opportunities at a time when most companies did not. The store eventually expanded to provide more than ten full floors of retail space in The Railway Exchange Building, and The May Company's corporate headquarters took up a large portion of the rest of the facility. Plans were drawn up in 1940 to expand the operations with three satellite stores, but were shelved due to WW2. The expansion occurred after the war, and Famous-Barr was the first department store in the nation to have 'suburban' outlets. By 2006 and the sale of The May Company to its longtime rival Federated Department Stores, Famous-Barr was pulling in $1.5 billion in annual sales, and had more than 35 locations in 5 states, many of which have now been shut down by Federated.
  2. We hope you had a great Christmas! As we march closer to the end of 2017, did you get the chance to read our previous holiday anthologies? Our 2004 Christmas Anthology: https://www.gayauthors.org/stories/browse/category/7-2004-anthology-christmas/ Our 2006 Winter Anthology Blizzard Theme: https://www.gayauthors.org/stories/browse/category/11-winter-blizzard/ Our 2015 Secret Santa Short Story contest: https://www.gayauthors.org/stories/browse/category/80-2015-secret-santa-short-story/ Also, this story was strongly recommended: We'd also like to remind all authors that we have four anthology themes for 2018 and a novella contest: Contests 2018 Summer Novella Anthology - Due April 15th, 2018 Anthologies 2018 Spring Anthology: Now or Never - Due May 15th 2018 Spring Anthology: Encounters - Due May 15th 2018 Fall Anthology: Fight Back - Due Nov 15th 2018 Fall Anthology: Good Intentions - Due Nov 15th
  3. Myr

    Ghosts of Christmases Past

    As we head into the final days before Christmas 2017, it might be a great time to take a break from the hectic holiday season and reread some of our anthologies from Christmases Past. Our 2004 Christmas Anthology: https://www.gayauthors.org/stories/browse/category/7-2004-anthology-christmas/ Our 2006 Winter Anthology Blizzard Theme: https://www.gayauthors.org/stories/browse/category/11-winter-blizzard/ Our 2015 Secret Santa Short Story Contest: https://www.gayauthors.org/stories/browse/category/80-2015-secret-santa-short-story/ We'd also like to remind all authors that we have 4 Anthology themes for 2018 and a Novella Contest: Contests 2018 Summer Novella Anthology - Due April 15th, 2018 Anthologies 2018 Spring Anthology: Now or Never - Due May 15th 2018 Spring Anthology: Encounters - Due May 15th 2018 Fall Anthology: Fight Back - Due Nov 15th 2018 Fall Anthology: Good Intentions - Due Nov 15th
  4. Mikiesboy

    Christmas, This Year

    Hi all. It's been awhile since i wrote a blog. I wrote a blog about Christmas last year on Dec. 26th, i was supposed to plan and do and not be stressed this year. How am i doing? Abysmally i think covers it, though i don't feel stressed particularly. This year the tree is up, so are some other bits and pieces scattered around and even a poinsettia, a traditional red one. However, there are zero presents bought. There is no baking because Michael found out during the summer He is diabetic. He's been doing so well with managing it, He doesn't want a houseful of goodies. I'll make the annual batches of fudge because most of it we give away. I can make Him a diabetic friendly cheesecake, egg nog and the English Trifle he loves so well. That'll make Him happy. Presents i think will be done tomorrow. For adults some little thing, gift cards and fudge. This year i just want to have a good time. Also i'm working Christmas Eve day so stuff needs to be done by Saturday the 23rd! I want to be with people i love on the Day, that's all i want. It's my wish that each of you have a wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year. Thanks to all of you who read my work, who supported me. I love you all. tim
  5. AC Benus

    Def's Christmas Present

    From the album: Famous-Barr General Images

    Defiance19 gave me this wonderful banner for Christmas, and I'm extremely happy. It's so generous; thank you!
  6. This story topic is for AC Benus' historical Christmas Holiday Novella about Saint Louis' most prominent department store Famous-Barr. The first story is being posted: Katie's Sketchbook - Christmas at Famous-Barr 1976 and you can learn more about Famous-Barr and enjoy pictures in AC's blog and gallery. I would never have thought reading about the history of a department store could be so interesting. As one of the comments said: "Now You are being a Living Encyclopedia." But I guess it's not the first time AC has awed his readers by the depth of his research and attention to historical facts and details. If you're ready to get into a holiday mood or want to follow one of AC's amazing love stories, check out Katie's Sketchbook. I promise you won't be disappointed. And join us here to discuss themes and topics of the Novella.
  7. AC Benus

    Nordstrom Xmas 2016 06

    From the album: Christmas 2016

    The store coordinated a large selections of hand-painted, Polish-made glass ornaments. Here is one. All of them have a metal tag on the hanger saying Norstrom's on one side and 2016 on the other.
  8. AC Benus

    Erzgebirge! 04

    From the album: Christmas 2016

  9. AC Benus

    Erzgebirge! 03

    From the album: Christmas 2016

    Another shot of the angels. The tall nutcracker came to me when I was 6 or 7. This year he's munching on some candy... hehe
  10. AC Benus

    Erzgebirge! 01

    From the album: Christmas 2016

    There's a part of Germany famous for its woodworking, especially for Christmas figures and pyramids (windmills). All of these are family pieces my mom has collected over the years. The large pyramid was bought in Tucson, Arizona, in 1977 when I was a kid. I still remember the day...
  11. Aditus, Cole Matthews, and I are proud to announce what has been keeping us so busy over the past couple of months. We have each written eight stories, poems, memories, or personal vignettes--so a total of twenty-four goodies we will share every day starting December first and ending on Christmas Eve. Aditus will post each treat, but the author will be kept secret until the end of each week. We would love to hear our readers' predictions and guesses as to who wrote which story either in a review or in this thread. We will respond to reviews and reveal the correct authors on the Saturday of each week during December. Please feel free to share your own holiday traditions, memories, and experiences here. We would love to have a discussion about any similar experiences our vignettes inspire. We are all very excited to bring you this calendar. We hope it brings as much joy to you as it did to us while we were creating it.
  12. AC Benus

    Erzgebirge! 02

    From the album: Christmas 2016

    More figures, including angles on a celestial bandstand. One figure here, my mom's first, was bought for Christmas 1952. Quite a while back now...
  13. aditus


    From the album: Aditus'

    I ripped it from the greedy hands of customs today. Thank you so much!

    © aditus

  14. AC Benus

    Nordstrom Xmas 2016 03

    From the album: Christmas 2016

    A closeup of one of the column covers - they have a few different designs - this one is the nutcracker. Reminds me of Bruce's efforts for the 1964 Famous-Barr decorations hehe
  15. AC Benus

    Nordstrom Xmas 2016 04

    From the album: Christmas 2016

    Closeup of one of their holiday shopping bags. The other side has a partridge in a pear tree. Edit: other side has 'Two Turtledoves' (in a pine tree, hehe)
  16. AC Benus

    Nordstrom Xmas 2016 02

    From the album: Christmas 2016

    This is a closeup of the ceiling decorations. This year all the ornaments and graphics are a modern take on traditional Scandinavian Christmas designs. I even saw a straw goat tucked in the branches!
  17. AC Benus

    Nordstrom Xmas 2016 01

    From the album: Christmas 2016

    I stumbled into Nordstrom's on Friday, and WOW! I do love an old-fashioned department store holiday. They have coordinated everything, from the decor, to the shopping bag, gift boxes, gift tags, etc. etc. etc. I thought stores had stopped doing this...so I was pretty amazed.
  18. AC Benus

    Nordstrom Xmas 2016 05

    From the album: Christmas 2016

    Two of the gift boxes. The larger one features the store's French Hen. The thing stuck under the gold twine is a gift tag.
  19. aditus

    Advent Calendar

    From the album: Covers and stuff

    The wichtel have been busy...

    © aditus

  20. AC Benus

    2005 FB Gift card

    From the album: Famous-Barr General Images

    ...the end of an era...the final holiday branding of a Famous-Barr Christmas. From 1849 to 2005, it was quite a run
  21. Drew Espinosa

    Just A Math Equation

    y=ln((x/m)-sa)/r2 yr2=ln((x/m)-sa eyrr=(x/m)-sa merry=x-mas Merry Christmas Everyone!!! Have fun today and tomorrow, spending time with friends and family!
  22. Cole Matthews

    Rocking Horse!

    From the album: Story Tiles

    A dear friend gave me this ornament. It is the inspiration for the next anthology, Crossing the Line. Thanks to my buddy!
  23. aditus

    Christmas outfit

    From the album: Aditus'


    © aditus

  24. aditus


    From the album: Aditus'

    So, I went shopping. Thinking about Christmas decorations.

    © Aditus

  25. Autumn Dream

    A Look Back on 2014

    Wow! It's been over a year since my first and only blog post! Yikes! Well, fear not. I have returned. Some of you may have forgotten about lil' ole me since I haven't been active for several months (not to say that I don't lurk in the shadows of GA stalking you all... like Batman. But without a cool costume. Unless you count fun pajamas as a cool costume? Because right now I'm wearing bright yellow pajama pants with Homer Simpson's face all over them, and a yellow shirt with his face on it too. I match! And I'm so yellow that I look like a giant freaking banana or something... hmm...giant banana. I wonder whether that is appropriate imagery for GA. Maybe it's the perfect imagery for GA? Anyway, I digress...). If you have forgotten about me or are just hearing from me for the first time, my name is Dylan! *waits for applause* *crickets* Well nice to meet you, a**holes. Jk! * * * * * Now then, let's get down to business (to defeat...the Huns). 2014 is over, and we're moving into a bright new year! Sure, there are still war, famine, and disease in the world, but I'm confident that we'll be able to find enough goodness this year in ourselves and in others that will balance it all out. And if any of you should fall upon hard times this year, I sincerely wish you all the grace and strength in the world to overcome those rough patches. I'm glad 2014 is over. For me, it started out grand and beautiful, but then crashed and burned near the end. My girlfriend, Ariel, and I became closer than ever in the beginning of the year when we realized that we may want to spend the rest of our lives together. Even though we're in our older teens and many people would say that we didn't really mean that or were stupid, I honestly believed I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I still do... Anyway, we got 'engaged to be engaged' in January 2014. I asked her to be my wife one day and gave her a beautiful promise ring. She said yes, of course, and it was the happiest day of my life so far. But it was not to last... In May, she started to have slight feelings for her best friend, Johnny. Ugh. That guy is an a**. TOTAL douche in my eyes, but of course a ton of people love him. He's the star kicker for our varsity football team. He's not really popular, per se, but out of the people who know him, many love him. I met him in Freshman year, and he used to tease me EVERY day when I saw him by calling me "faggot". Yeah, THAT kind of a**hole. Then, when I started dating Ariel in sophomore year, I think he got jealous that I could win over such a beautiful girl. So, one day when I was sick at home, he sleazed his way over to talk to my girlfriend. And before I knew it, they were best friends. But of course, I didn't want to be that douche who tells his girlfriend who she can and can't be friends with! So I let them be friends...even though he wuld tease me all of the time in front of her. Ugh I loathe him. Well anyway, in May she cheated on me by kissing him. And she didn't tell me until the summer. Well, I forgave her because I loved her far too deeply to let her go. But lo and behold, the feelings for Johnny grew stronger and she broke up with me the week before my birthday (yes, REALLY!) and started dating him the same day. It was really, really hurtful...we had been together for 2 years. Then she told me I wasn't allowed to talk to her family anymore, which sucked... and 3 weeks after they started dating, I found out that she was wearing a promise ring from him and they had already 'done the do'. It took US a year to do either of those things...so like wtf, man? haha Anyway, besides that unfortunate series of events (yes, I'll stop prattling on about my stupid love drama now ), my dad has been sober for over a year now! I'm so proud of him! And...I got a new cat! Her name is "Halle" Halloween. Like "Halle" Barry, but furrier. She's a black short-hair. Which makes sense actually with the Halle Barry thing, because she was freaking Catwoman! I just realized that!!! Haha. Halle is a very goofy cat. She likes to play tag, and absolutely loves tablecloths. I put them on the table, she pulls them off! It's like she's... a frustrated interior decorator or something, I swear! My dog watches her like a form of television... she's the dog's entertainment! Hmm...I started my senior year this year, and I started applying to colleges. Scary process! But I've heard back from one already, and I've been accepted at San Diego State University! *Parties like it's 1999...then realizes I was only 3 then (#awkward)* Anyway, I'll wrap this up! My year has been filled with many good and bad things, as I'm sure all of yours were! And I wish you all the best going into this next year, as I already said. Thank you for letting me vent and practice my jokes Love you all! And Happy New Year! Cheers, Dylan

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