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The Bon Marché (US): Wikis


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The Bon Marché
Former type Former subsidiary of Federated Department Stores
Fate Merged with Macy's
Founded 1890
Defunct 2005
Headquarters Seattle, Washington
Industry Retail
Products Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares.
Website None

The Bon Marché, whose name means "a good deal" or "a good market", was the name chosen for a department store launched in Seattle, Washington, United States, in 1890 by the Nordhoff family. The name comes from Le Bon Marché, a noted Paris retailer and one of the world's first department stores, founded 40 years earlier.

Familiarly known to Washingtonians as The Bon, it was acquired by Allied Stores in 1929. A solid middle-range store, The Bon served largely working-class, boom-and-bust Seattle well; branches were added in several Northwestern cities. Among them were Spokane, Tacoma, Yakima, Kennewick, Longview, Walla Walla, and Bellingham, Washington and Boise, Idaho.

The Bon is known for their catchy jingles, such as the following to the tune of "The Banana Boat Song": "Day-o, One Day Sale, One day only at The Bon Marché! Save 20, 30, 40 percent (example savings)! Saturday only at the Bon Marche. Prices are down in every department! Saturday only at the Bon Marche!..." This jingle continued after the name was changed to Bon Macy's, with the appropriate changes.

Allied Stores was merged into Federated Department Stores in 1989. As part of its national rebranding program, Federated changed the name to Bon-Macy's in 2003. On March 6, 2005, the Bon-Macy's name was eliminated, with the stores renamed as the Macy's Northwest division of Federated. On February 6th, 2008, the Macy's Northwest division was merged with the Macy's West division, based out of San Francisco.





Edward Nordhoff was born in Germany in 1858, and moved to Paris as a young man. In Paris, he worked for the Louvre Department Store, but developed great admiration for its rival, the Maison of Aristide Boucicaut "Au Bon Marché" (now part of the LVMH group). Nordhoff admired the values of this rival store's owners, who built their business with a foundation in customer service. He dreamed of opening his own store along these lines. In 1881, Edward immigrated to the U.S. While managing a popular Chicago department store he met Josephine Brennan, who worked on the sales floor. They married in 1888, and 2 years later set off for the West Coast with their baby, Eleanor.

Arriving in Seattle the year after the 1889 fire, the Nordhoffs found rental space scarce. They leased a one-story structure at the corner of First and Cedar in Belltown, for $25 a month. Their entire savings of $1,200 was soon invested on merchandise for their store. Mrs. Nordhoff, not yet 20, stocked shelves, kept the books, cleaned and mopped. She learned the Chinook language so that she could better wait on Native American customers. Though the store was blocks out of the way, townsfolk began to trade with the hardworking young couple. The panic of the early 1890s struck Seattle hard. Every cent was precious. Returning from his first buying trip east, Ed Nordhoff brought back something new -- sacks of pennies. Until then, change had been made only to the nearest nickel locally. Now customers walked for blocks to save pennies at The Bon Marché's sales. Their growing success allowed the Nordhoffs to relocate their store closer to the business heart of the city in 1896. They chose a one-story L-shaped building at Second and Pike.

Initial growth and expansion

An older Bon Marché logo

In 1899, at age 40, Edward died of an illness his doctor called "phthisis", probably tuberculosis. Josephine remarried two years later. Her new husband, Frank McDermott, joined her and Rudolph Nordhoff, Edward's brother, in operating The Bon Marché. The store entered a period of rapid growth under the management of this trio. Sales increased from $338,000 in 1900 to $8 million in 1923. The store was enlarged time and time again. In 1929, The Bon Marché opened at its current downtown location at Third and Pine. That year, the store was sold to Hahn Stores of Chicago. Five years later, Allied Stores bought the Hahn chain. Both corporations continued to operate the store under its original name. In 1937, The Bon Marché opened it first store outside of Washington when Allied Stores merged Boise, Idaho-based C.C. Anderson's into The Bon Marché. Until it's closure in early 2010, the store operated under the Macy's name in downtown Boise.

The Bon began opening additional stores after World War II. In 1949, it provided the anchor store for one of the world's first modern shopping centers, at Northgate Mall. By 1986, when Campeau Corporation acquired Allied Stores, the Bon Marché was one of the best-known retailers in the Northwest, with about 40 stores throughout the region. In 1978, the company acquired nine stores including Missoula Mercantile of Missoula, Montana and The Paris of Great Falls, Montana. The Great Falls store closed in 2000 and the Missoula store closed as Macy's in 2010.

The Bon also opened and operated three stores in Utah: The largest one was in Ogden, Utah at the Ogden City Mall. The second was in Layton Hills Mall in Layton, Utah (a bedroom community north of Salt Lake City). Third was the smallest store in the entire chain - Logan, Utah. This store was located in the Cache Valley Mall. The stores in Ogden and Logan were sold to Lamonts department stores in 1988 because they weren't performing well for the company.[1]

After yet another change in corporate ownership in 1992, the Bon ended up in the hands of Federated Department Stores, a Cincinnati-based company which also owns the Macy's and Bloomingdales chains. In 2001, The Bon Marché debuted a prototype store in Helena, Montana. The 65,000-square-foot (6,000 m2) store features everything a typical Bon Marché has plus centralized checkouts.

Name changes

Bon-Macy's logo used from 2003-2005

In August 2003, Federated "rebranded" the Bon Marché, turning it into Bon-Macy's. Federated also tacked Macy’s onto the names of four other regional chains under its umbrella (Burdines in Florida, Lazarus in the Midwest, Goldsmith's in Tennessee, and Rich's in the Southeast). Customers had about a year to get used to that change when, in September 2004, Federated announced that all its regional chains would be renamed Macy’s.

As of 2004, Bon-Macy’s consisted of 50 stores in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. New store signs, reading simply Macy’s, were in place by January 2005.

On February 6, 2008, Terry Lundgren announced the localization strategy and the company's plan to shed 2,550 jobs. This included laying off the Macy's Northwest headquarters and merging all of the former Bon Marché stores under the Macy's West division.

A prototype Bon Marché store in Helena, Montana opened in 2001.


Further reading

External links


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