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Frederick & Nelson
Seattle, WashingtonUnited States
Marshall Field & Company (1929 - 1986)
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Frederick & Nelson was a historic Seattle, Washington, department store founded in 1890. Acquired by Marshall Field & Company in 1929, it closed its doors in 1992. Its former Seattle flagship store is now occupied by the flagship Nordstrom location.
1.1 Marshall Field's
3 Former locations
4 External links
Frederick & Nelson is the successor to a business founded by two partners, Donald E. Frederick and James Mecham, who had been mining pals back in Colorado. They happened to connect shortly after Frederick arrived in Seattle on a steamer in 1890 and they pooled their resources to start a second-hand furniture business.
After setting up shop in several locations, the business was named J.G. Mecham and Company. Another mining pal arrived from Colorado and Nels B. Nelson, who was born in Sweden, purchased with cash a one-third interest in the business. Several months later Mecham sold his interest because of ill health. The name was changed to Frederick & Nelson and they vowed to create the largest and finest store west of the Mississippi and north of San Francisco.
Old Fredrick & Nelson logo
D.E. Frederick and Nels B. Nelson proved to be a natural team. Frederick had a keen instinct for merchandising and a high regard for service while Nelson's outgoing personality was the driving force for the store's success by making friends and forging partnerships. Early customers included the local Indians and a thriving populace fueled by the news that Seattle would become the western terminus for the Great Northern Railroad.
In 1891, the partners acquired the Queen City Furniture Company and began selling new furniture. They proclaimed "What our customers want, we will give them. Service is our motto." Their sincerity was tested when just before closing time on a snowy Christmas Eve in 1890, a customer came in to purchase a second-hand rocker for his wife for Christmas, provided it was delivered that night. Frederick & Nelson both sloshed through the snow to the top of Denny Hill to deliver the heavy chair. This was the first delivery in the history of Frederick & Nelson. Legend has it that their first credit customer was an Indian woman who coveted a second-hand parlor stove. The stove was hers for weekly payments of berries, a woven mat and a sweet grass basket.
The Klondike Gold Rush around the turn of the century fueled further growth of Seattle. There was a growing demand for fine furnishings in the blossoming hotel business as well as in the fine homes of the city's inhabitants. Their simple philosophy was that "If a customer asks for it, get it and if enough people want the same thing, start a department." There were departments for furniture, carpeting, housewares, china and draperies. They even had a mattress factory.
Munro was leery of rapid expansion and he soon parted company with Frederick & Nelson. Tragedy struck in 1907 when the ailing Nels Nelson was returning from a trip to a medical spa in Bohemia and died at sea. Frederick was left to run the entire operation.
Expansion plans floated in 1914 for a brand-new building six stories tall with a seventh floor in the basement. Despite a shortage of building materials that were needed elsewhere to fight the First World War, the building opened the day after Labor Day on September 3, 1918 at Pine Street and Fifth Avenue. Over 25,000 shoppers and guests made it through the doors that day. Frederick was forward-thinking enough to make the foundation strong enough to hold 10 stories. Even though businessmen and financiers branded the project "Frederick's Folly," his dream was finally realized three decades later.
At the age of 69, D.E. Frederick decided to retire and sell the store to the Marshall Field Company in 1929 for six million dollars. He was most impressed with the policies of Marshall Field and had even patterned Frederick & Nelson after Marshall Field and Company. They signed a 99-year lease on the property that would pay Frederick (and later his estate) $100,000 a year. In 1943, Frederick & Nelson opened a satellite store at Boeing Field at the Boeing Airplane Company鎶� number 2 plant. They supported the war effort and built a loyalty among the...(and so on)
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