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Feb 10th, Schuster's & Gimbels program at Central

"Let's Go By Schuster's where the streetcar bends the corner round."
-old Milwaukee phrase

schustergimbel.jpeg gimbels.jpeg

Two books about Gimbels and Schuster's, Milwaukee's one-time largest department store chains, were recently published. Paul Geenen worked at Gimbels' eight-floor Downtown flagship store. His Schuster's and Gimbels: Milwaukee's Beloved Department Stores will bring back memories for Milwaukeeans who not only shopped and worked at both stores, but grew up listening to Schuster's Billie the Brownie Christmas radio show on WTMJ and watched Schuster's Christmas Parade travel on streetcar tracks past their department stores around town. Gimbels expansion into new shopping centers after World War II helped them to buy Schuster's in 1962. While dominating the Milwaukee market, Gimbels struggled in other markets. It went out of business in 1986, leaving fading memories of Tasty Town, bargain basement and more.

Department store historian Michael J. Lisicky covers Gimbels expansion from Milwaukee to New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in Gimbels Has It! Gimbels played second fiddle to Macy's in the Big Apple (rivalry depicted in the classic Christmas movie, The Miracle on 34th Street) and Wanamaker's in Philly. This combined with its slowness to adapt to changing retail trends led to its downfall in the 1980s.

Geenen will speak about his book on Sunday, February 10th, 2:00 p.m. in the Central Library Rare Books Room.

Van Lingle Mungo @ Central


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