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Fate Bankruptcy
Founded ca. 1900
Defunct 1990
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Key people Julius Garfinckel, founder
Industry Retail
Products Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, housewares

Garfinckel's was a prominent department store chain based in Washington, D.C., that catered to a clientele of wealthy consumers.



This retail mercantile business was founded in 1905, as Julius Garfinckel & Co. by Julius Garfinckel (1872-1936), originally employing 10 clerks. In 1946, it acquired the mens specialty retailer, Brooks Brothers and in 1950, De Pinna. It formed the national retail conglomerate, Garfinckel, Brooks Brothers, Miller & Rhoads, Inc., after acquisition of the Miller & Rhoads chain in 1967. In 1977, the conglomerate acquired the Ann Taylor women's fashion store chain. In 1981, the conglomerate consisted of close to 190 stores in seven chains.[1] That same year, Allied Stores acquired Garfinckel, Brooks Brothers, Miller & Rhoads, Inc. for $228 million. In 1986, Campeau Corp. acquired Allied, and in turn sold the Garfinckel's chain to locally owned Raleigh's for $95 million, forming Garfinckel's, Raleigh's & Co.[2]

Garfinckel's grew and expanded into a chain of stores, but was eventually pushed into financial collapse due to a series of mergers and acquisitions. On June 21, 1990, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy by its chairman and CEO George P. Kelly and went out of business.[3]

Flagship store

Garfinckel's Department Store
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
Location: 1401 F St., NW
Nearest city: Washington, D.C.
Area: (less than 1 acre (4,000 m2)
Built/Founded: 1925-1929
Architect: Porter and Lockie, Starrett & van Vleck
Architectural style(s): Other, Moderne
Added to NRHP: 1995
NRHP Reference#: 95000353

In 1918, the store was located at 13th and F Streets. An eight-story department store building was erected at the northwest corner of 14th and F Streets, across from the Willard Hotel, and opened in 1929. The $2,000,000 structure was designed by architects Starrett & van Vleck of New York.[4] By 1936, there were more than 500 employees.[5]

In 1995, the historic Garfinckel's flagship store located at 1401 F Street, NW, Washington, which is one block from the Treasury Department and less than two blocks from the White House, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. From 1997 to 1999, the property was redeveloped into a modern office building and shopping center that is referred to as Hamilton Square. It includes a Borders Books & Music store.

Garfinckel's flagship store reputation was not without controversy. It was both widely known and acknowledged that blacks were not welcome at the flagship store and in fact, were not permitted to try on clothing. This may in fact have hurt the store during the latter part of the 20th century; newly-prosperous blacks may have been inclined to ignore the store.

Branch stores

Unlike its local retail competitors, the Hecht Company, Woodward & Lothrop, and Lord & Taylor, Garfinckel's did not open numerous suburban locations during the heyday of the 1950s and 1960s. The store was an original anchor at the Seven Corners Shopping Center upon opening in 1956. After that, its Montgomery Mall store opened in 1968.[6] It also operated a 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) store in the Spring Valley section of Washington, D.C., at 4820 Massachusetts Avenue. This was followed by store openings in May 1970, a 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) location at Tyson's Corner Center; a 90,000-square-foot (8,400 m2) location at Landover Mall on May 11, 1972; and a second hotel location - a 600-square-foot (56 m2) store in the Washington Hilton, opened July 1972.[7][8][9] The Springfield Mall store opened in January 1973.[10]

Convinced that the company had expanded enough and that the premiere 170,000-square-foot (16,000 m2) downtown location would continue to prosper, Garfinckel's did not expand again until the early-1980's.[11] Stores opened in the early 1980s at Annapolis Mall, Fair Oaks Mall, and a 16,000-square-foot (1,500 m2) store at The Shops at Georgetown Park.[12] These would be the last new Garfinckel's suburban locations. After allowing its lease to expire at the Tyson's Corner store at the end of 1988, Garfinckel's announced plans to open a second downtown Washington store at 1130 Connecticut Ave, NW; then the site of a temporary Raleigh's location.[13] Nine locations were in operation at the time of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1990.[14]


  1. ^ "Top 100 Area Firms," The Washington Post, Apr 20, 1981, p. WB26.
  2. ^ "The Downfall Of a Washington Institution," by Mark Potts, The Washington Post, Jun 22, 1990, p. F1.
  3. ^ "Company News; Garfinckel's In Chapter 11". 1990-06-22. Retrieved 2007-11-12.  
  4. ^ "Special from Richmond, June 21: Virginia Exports Increased. North Carolina Also Shows Gain Over Last Year," New York Times, June 23, 1929, p. N12
  5. ^ "Special from Washington, Nov. 6: Julius Garfinckel Dies In Washington - Merchant and Philanthropist Succumbs to Pneumonia in the Capital at 62," New York Times, Nov. 7, 1936, p. 17
  6. ^ "Garfinckel's 'New' Image," by William G. Cushing, The Washington Post, Times Herald, Oct 26, 1969, p. 117.
  7. ^ "Garfinckel Opens at Tysons," The Washington Post, Times Herald, May 29, 1970, p. C7.
  8. ^ "Garfinckel's Sixth Store," The Washington Post, Times Herald, May 7, 1972, p. AS11.
  9. ^ "Garfinckel's Opens Hilton Hotel Shop," The Washington Post, Times Herald, Aug 3, 1972, p. H2.
  10. ^ "Garfinckel's Plans Chevy Chase Store," by William H. Jones, The Washington Post, Times Herald, Mar 6, 1972, p. D7.
  11. ^ "Garfinckel's Still Attracting Suburbanites," by William H. Jones, The Washington Post, Mar 27, 1977, p. 185.
  12. ^ "Garfinckel's Plans to Expand," by Merrill Brown, The Washington Post, Nov 2, 1979, p. D1.
  13. ^ "Garfinckel's to Open New Store Downtown," The Washington Post, Jan 25, 1989, p. F1.
  14. ^ "Retailer Garfinckel's Files for Bankruptcy," by Kara Swisher, The Washington Post, Jun 22, 1990, p. A1.

External links

Coordinates: 38°53′51″N 77°01′57″W / 38.8975°N 77.0325°W / 38.8975; -77.0325



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