Monroe County Library System,  Monroe, MI 48162


Bygones of Monroe:


Harrington & Schmidt Have Moved to Their Washington Street

Store. Formal Opening Occurred on Wednesday Evening.

On Wednesday evening Harrington & Schmidt opened to the public their fine new store on Washington Street and the thousands of people who crowded the building for hours testified that they had taken an intense interest in the event. The store was brilliant with lights, and palms and ferns were tastefully distributed, giving the store almost the appearance of fairyland.

Mann's orchestra furnished music in unstinted measure and handsome souvenirs were given to the visitors. No goods were sold, but the proprietors, I. S. Harrington and William Schmidt, together with the clerks, made everyone welcome and took pleasure in showing their guests about the store and later in the evening the Monroe Cornet band gave the firm a serenade. The size of the store and stock of goods, the beauty, equipment and conveniences of the store excited the admiration of all and many were the warm words of congratulation that the firm received. And THE DEMOCRAT wishes to join with them in their felicitations.

The firm began business August 12, 1899, and its success from the start was apparent. The building soon became too small and a portion of the adjoining building was rented. Even then the quarters were inadequate and as their lease expired this year they took steps to buy the building, but the deal fell through. They then decided to take the building formally occupied by the Boehme & Rauch Co., No. 11 Washington Street, and for the past several months carpenters have been busy remodeling it for a first class dry goods store. On Monday they had the bulk of their stock in, but not arranged as it should be until the reception Wednesday evening.

The members of the firm have for many years been identified with Monroe business firms. Mr. Harrington's first experience was obtained with the venerable S. M. Sackett, whose employ he entered in 1871, remaining five years. He next spent eight years with the late Paul P. Morgan, Grocer, and later was with James Armitage & Co. until the death of Mr. Armitage, when his business was closed out. In 1891 Mr. Harrington became a clerk in Ed G. J. Lauer's dry goods store and he remained with him until 1898, when he went with Co. M. to the Spanish war. Shortly after his return the firm Harrington & Schmidt was formed.

William Schmidt, at the time he associated himself with Mr. Harrington, had been with Ed G. J. Lauer 18 years and for five years before that had clerked for J. M. Bulkley, which gives him a record for continuous service for one firm that is not often excelled.

The present business firm came into existence as the result of a jocular remark of Mr. Harrington in the spring of 1899. During his absence with the army down south, he had heard of the fact that the Morris dry goods store was to be closed out. After his return to his duties here, he and Mr. Schmidt happened one day to be talking over the Morris sale, when Mr. Harrington, in a spirit of fun, said "There's a chance for us. Let's buy them out." In the course of the day Mr. Schmidt could not banish his remark from his mind and approached Mr. Harrington in earnest with the proposition of trying to make the purchase of the Morris business. Mr. Harrington declared himself ready, and the preliminary steps were soon taken. Owing to numerous complications, the Morris deal was dropped and the Neckel building across the street from it was selected as the home for the new firm.

Conditions were at the time just right for their venture. Their many years of experience in the dry goods or other business has made them thoroughly acquainted with the buying public of the entire county. They had always been alive to new ideas and kept up with the times in the discharge with their duties. Personally they have all the requisites for success, being keen buyers, good judges of the trade, affable, courteous and unflinchingly honest with their customers. Hence they have been able to continually increase the patronage for their store.

Their new store is a splendid one and a decided improvement over the old one. The building is 150 feet long, the front half having a width of 22 feet and the rear having a width of 25 feet. It has a hard wood floor, steel ceiling and is very well lighted, the front half being lighted by the large show window and luxfer prismatic glass above the window, while the rear portion has windows on both the north and south sides, the former having the prismatic glass. For artificial lighting they at present have seven clusters of the latest Humphrey gas lights, but the building is also wired for electric lights. It is heated throughout by steam.

The length of the building enables them to carry all their goods on one floor. To the left, as one enters, are the dress and silk department, the linen, wash goods and domestic departments, next the ladies' ready-to-wear garments, which department extends to the 25 foot section. Following this come the carpets, oil cloths and draperies.

On the right, or south, side are the notions, hosiery and underwear departments, which take up the first section of the building. Then come the office and desk and back of these the blankets, comforters, rugs and mattings.

In the rear end is a toilet and wash room and in the extreme rear is a stock room 25 by 20 feet, with cement floor and shelved to the ceiling, in which the reserve stock can be kept under ideal conditions. An eight-foot basement is also at their service.

The new front presents an attractive appearance, with its wide sweep of plate and prismatic glass and its neat back ground of Georgia pine in natural finish. It is lighted at night by incandescent lights. In the store are 52 feet of show cases of the "silent salesman" variety, which are doubly attractive at night as they are lighted with incandescent lights, and of course there are the regulation style of counters that the needs of the business demand. A fancy oak wall case, with glass front, keeps the fancy goods protected against promiscuous handling and settling of dust.

Not only does the building itself offer better advantages than their old one, but its location is also better adapted to the dry goods business. For the adjacent stores are such as are patronized by the fair sex, so that those who trade in these stores will be likely to form the habit of dropping in the new store. Furthermore it is located nearer the Macomb Street Bridge, which latter the farmers are using in preference to the Monroe Street Bridge which is made dangerous by the electric cars.

(Monroe Democrat, September 15, 1905)

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