Thursday, August 25, 2011

Foreign Lands: Austin With A Tarpaulin? Behave!

Sometimes in this "business," signs defy your expectations. Before I Googled (sorry, Larry Page, but I'm going to continue using it as a verb), I didn't think I'd be able to find out much about Powers Dry Goods. I figured it would be a long forgotten, single-location retailer in St. Paul that the internet never heard of.

But no. Its even got its own wikipedia page. Powers was a department store, founded under a different name, but renamed in 1881 when it was acquired by the Powers brothers of St. Paul. In 1903, The New York Times (pdf) announced the arrival (to something) of Mr. Knox and Miss Holland of the company as buyers. At it's peak it had 7 locations in the Twin Cities.

It was acquired again by Associated Dry Goods in 1920, which itself was acquired by Donaldsons. Minnesotans of sufficient age will remember when Donaldsons and Daytons were the two rival department stores, when each of the "dale" shopping centers around the metro area was anchored by both. Those days ended when the company was acquired again in 1987 and all the locations were converted to the Carson Pirie Scott brand, which didn't work out so well. After bankruptcy, Daytons ended up buying them (an interesting development from a competition perspective), but like nearly all department store tales these days, the story ends in a ultimate acquisition by Macy's. All hail the conquering May Company!

This sign is at 4th & Wacouta in Lowertown. It's previously been featured on Writing On The Wall and Flickr, while Nokohaha has an old postcard of the Minneapolis location and some additional history. The Historical Society gives us visual evidence of the sale of war bonds to ladies in Minneapolis (no word on whether the counterman went to stag parties at the Calhoun Building) and of a monstrous, man-eating, precursor to Disney's Flounder ostensibly created as a Christmas display in 1949.

Finally, yes, I'm try to set new lows in dorky post titles.

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