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Strawbridge and Clothier
Fate Renamed Macy's, Bloomingdale's or shuttered
Successor Macy's
Founded 1868 (as Strawbridge & Clothier)
Defunct 2006
Headquarters Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Industry Retail
Products Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares.
Parent Formerly May Department Stores
Website None

Strawbridge's (formerly Strawbridge & Clothier) was a department store found in the northeastern United States with stores in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In its day a gracious urban emporium, by the 1990s it found itself part of May Department Stores until that company's August 30, 2005 acquisition by Macy's Inc.. May had operated it under its Arlington County, Virginia-based Hecht's division. The historical flagship store was located in downtown Philadelphia at The Gallery at Market East. It was announced March 10, 2006 that this store would close on June 1, but it actually shut its doors on May 23.[1]

On February 1, 2006, the former May Company division were dissolved and operating control of the Strawbridge's stores was assumed by Macy's East. On September 9, 2006, the Strawbridge's and Hecht's nameplates were completely phased out in favor of Macy's.


The store began as a dry goods store founded by Quakers Justus Clayton Strawbridge (1838–1911) and Isaac Hallowell Clothier (1837–1921)[1] in Philadelphia in 1862. In 1868 Strawbridge & Clothier purchased the 3-story brick building on the northwest corner of Market and 8th Streets in Center City Philadelphia that had been Thomas Jefferson's office in 1790 while he served as Secretary of State, and opened their first store. They soon replaced the old building with a new 5-story department store offering a variety of fixed price merchandise under one roof. In 1930, they opened a modern store building on the site, the granite monument that dominates the corner today. This building subsequently became one of the anchors in 1977 of The Gallery, an urban mall connecting Strawbridge & Clothier with Gimbels, which had relocated from across Market Street to join the mall.

In 1929, Strawbridge & Clothier helped remake the American retail scene by opening one of the first suburban branch department stores in the nation, located in the Suburban Square shopping center in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. In 1931, they opened their second suburban "satellite" store at Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. By the 1970s, Strawbridge's had nearly a dozen branch stores in malls across eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.

In 1971 S&C founded the Clover discount store chain which aimed to compete with the emerging Target grade retailers. Located in strip centers rather than malls for the most part, Clover grew to have many more locations than the full-service S&C stores until closing all stores in winter 1997.

8th and Market Street in Philadelphia, showing the Strawbridge and Clothier department store, 1910s.

After successfully fighting off a hostile takeover attempt by Ronald S. Baron in 1986, Strawbridge & Clothier survived as an independent, locally-owned department store into the 1990s. In 1995, in an attempt to become the dominant retailer in the Philadelphia region, S&C partnered with Federated Department Stores, Pomeroys, and the Rubin Brothers real estate development company to acquire their rival Wanamaker's, but were outbid in bankruptcy court by May Department Stores Company. Subsequently, the 13 Strawbridge & Clothier department stores were bought by May Department Stores Company in 1996 when the Strawbridge & Clothier corporation elected to liquidate its operations (it also operated the Clover discount department store chain). At the time of the May acquisition, the Strawbridge's name was retained, and the Philadelphia area Hecht's stores (the former John Wanamaker locations also adopted the name). However, the Strawbridge & Clothier head office was closed and its operations were consolidated with Hecht's in Arlington, Virginia. After the sale the stores operated simply as Strawbridge's, although exterior signage reading Strawbridge & Clothier remained in place at many locations until the stores became Macy's in 2006. Some Strawbridge's stores had restaurants inside, like at Christiana Mall in Newark, Delaware. Strawbridge's was well known for their shopping bags. It was a paper bag, with navy blue handles. And it read, Strawbridge's in blue twice and red once on one side of the bag, and vice versa on the other. They were also known for their friendly employees.

In July, 2006, The Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), owners of The Gallery at Market East, agreed to purchase the lower floors of the flagship Strawbridge's store. It is anticipated that PREIT will seek retail tenants for the areas of the building closest to street level but may convert some higher floors to office space. The uppermost floors had previously been sold and converted to offices; they are currently owned by American Financial Realty Trust of Jenkintown. On February 26, 2009, it was announced that the developers of Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia were looking into locating their new casino onto three floors of the former Strawbridge's flagship store currently owned by PREIT.[2]


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