- Frederick & Nelson
Infobox Defunct Company
company_name = Frederick & Nelson
fate = Closed (Bankruptcy)
foundation = 1891
defunct = 1992
Retail/ Department store
parent = Marshall Field & Company (1929 - 1986)
Frederick & Nelson was a historic
Seattle, Washington, department storefounded in 1890. Acquired by Marshall Field & Company in 1929, it closed its doors in 1992. Its former Seattle flagship store is now occupied by the flagship Nordstromlocation.
Frederick & Nelson is the successor to a business founded by two partners,
D.E. Frederickand James Mecham, who had been mining pals back in Colorado. They happened to connect shortly after Frederick arrived in Seattle on a steamer in 1890 and they pooled their resources to start a second-hand furniture business.
After setting up shop in several locations, the business was named J.G. Mecham and Company. Another mining pal arrived from Colorado and
Nels B. Nelson, who was born in Sweden, purchased with cash a one-third interest in the business. Several months later Mecham sold his interest because of ill health. The name was changed to Frederick & Nelson and they vowed to create the largest and finest store west of the Mississippiand north of San Francisco.
D.E. Frederick and Nels B. Nelson proved to be a natural team. Frederick had a keen instinct for merchandising and a high regard for service while Nelson's outgoing personality was the driving force for the store's success by making friends and forging partnerships. Early customers included the local Indians and a thriving populace fueled by the news that Seattle would become the western terminus for the
Great Northern Railroad.
In 1891, the partners acquired the Queen City Furniture Company and began selling new furniture. They proclaimed "What our customers want, we will give them. Service is our motto." Their sincerity was tested when just before closing time on a snowy Christmas Eve in 1890, a customer came in to purchase a second-hand rocker for his wife for Christmas, provided it was delivered that night. Frederick & Nelson both sloshed through the snow to the top of
Denny Hillto deliver the heavy chair. This was the first delivery in the history of Frederick & Nelson. Legend has it that their first credit customer was an Indian woman who coveted a second-hand parlor stove. The stove was hers for weekly payments of berries, a woven mat and a sweet grass basket.
Klondike Gold Rusharound the turn of the century fueled further growth of Seattle. There was a growing demand for fine furnishings in the blossoming hotel business as well as in the fine homes of the city's inhabitants. Their simple philosophy was that "If a customer asks for it, get it and if enough people want the same thing, start a department." There were departments for furniture, carpeting, housewares, china and draperies. They even had a mattress factory.
Munro was leery of rapid expansion and he soon parted company with Frederick & Nelson. Tragedy struck in 1907 when the ailing Nels Nelson was returning from a trip to a medical spa in Bohemia and died at sea. Frederick was left to run the entire operation.
Expansion plans floated in 1914 for a brand-new building six stories tall with a seventh floor in the basement. Despite a shortage of building materials that were needed elsewhere to fight the
First World War, the building opened the day after Labor Day on September 3, 1918 at Pine Street and Fifth Avenue. [cite web|url=http://content.lib.washington.edu/cgi-bin/viewer.exe?CISOROOT=/imlsmohai&CISOPTR=3551&CISORESTMP=&CISOVIEWTMP=|title=University of Washington Libraries Digital Collection Downtown Flagship Store] Over 25,000 shoppers and guests made it through the doors that day. Frederick was forward-thinking enough to make the foundation strong enough to hold 10 stories. Even though businessmen and financiers branded the project "Frederick's Folly," his dream was finally realized three decades later.
At the age of 69, D.E. Frederick decided to retire and sell the store to the Marshall Field Company in 1929 for six million dollars. He was most impressed with the policies of Marshall Field and had even patterned Frederick & Nelson after Marshall Field and Company. They signed a 99-year lease on the property that would pay Frederick (and later his estate) $100,000 a year. In 1943, Frederick & Nelson opened a satellite store at
BoeingField at the Boeing Airplane Company’s number 2 plant. They supported the war effort and built a loyalty among the airplane manufacturer’s 47,000 employees. Frederick’s also established a “Victory Post” on the main floor of the Seattle store, selling war bonds and stamps. Frederick’s was one of a handful of stores in the nation to receive a Treasury DepartmentT-Flag. The T-Flag signified that over 90% of the employees invested at least 10 percent of their earnings in war bonds. D.E. Frederick’s dreams for expansion of the original store at Pine Street and Fifth Avenue finally were realized when the grand re-opening was celebrated August 4, 1952. There were 10 floors above ground and two below. The building housed a beauty salon, post office, movie picture auditorium, a fully equipped medical facility and a nursery. There were reading and writing rooms and the large, elaborately furnished fifth-floor Tea Room could seat 400. On the tenth floor, the company built a modern candy kitchen that could turn out more than 500,000 pounds of Frango chocolate a year. The kitchen remains there today as an operating subsidiary of Citibank. Later a kindergarten and a children's barbershop were added. (The original Frederick & Nelson store reopened as Nordstrom’s flagship store in 1998.)
By 1980, Frederick and Nelson had become one of the fastest growing stores in the nation, nearly quadrupling from four stores to 15. Marshall Field’s acquired three
Liberty HouseStores in Portland and two in Tacomaas well as six Lipmansstores in Oregon from the Dayton HudsonCorporation. They were all converted to Frederick & Nelson stores.
Ownership would change three more times in the next nine years as business went on a downward spiral. Management changes occurred in 1982 when
BATUS Inc.of Louisville, Kentuckybought all of the outstanding stock of Marshall Field and Company. BATUS Retail Group now included Marshall Field’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Frederick and Nelson, Gimbels, Kohl'sand a number of other department stores. By the mid-1980s they were beginning to close the Oregon stores. One Oregon location at Washington Square lasted until 1990.
BATUS sold the money-losing Frederick & Nelson to local investors in January 1986. Poor management decisions led to an over abundance of lower-priced, out-of-season merchandise and large investments in inventory at the wrong prices. No longer known for fashionable, high-end clothing, Frederick & Nelson proved ill-equipped to withstand competitive pressures, particularly when the Seattle area entered a recession in the late 1980s. Fading rapidly, the chain found itself in a fatal liquidity crisis and closed its doors for the last time in May, 1992 [ [http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/archives/1992/9205220093.asp Mourning Frederick'S The Great
Patrons And Employees Remember The Store As The `Ultimate In Luxury' ] ] .
One cannot talk about Frederick & Nelson without mentioning
Frangos melt-in-your mouth chocolates. The exact year of creation and the origin of the name have been lost to history. According to a trademark document from the U.S. Patent Office, the name Frango was first officially used on June 1, 1918. A popular item on the Tearoom menu was a frozen dessert called Frango and it was available in maple and orange flavors. The name probably originated by the combination of "Fr" from Frederick’s and the "ango" from the tango dance craze. In 1926, the consistency of the Frango Dessert was described as flaky, requiring the use of a fork, not a spoon, as you would use with ice cream. Eventually the Frango dessert line included pies, ice cream sodas and milk shakes. It was decided upon in 1928 or 1929 that Frederick’s should offer a chocolate mint truffle. Candy maker Ray Alden is credited with developing the Frango Mint. His secret recipe called for chocolate from cocoa beans grown on the AfricanCoast and South America, triple-distilled oil of Oregonpeppermint and 40 percent butter. A few months after Frederick sold out to Marshall Field's in 1929, Frederick's candy makers in Seattlewere summoned to Chicagoto introduce Frango chocolates to Marshall Field's to help build slumping sales during the great depression. Soon, the candy kitchen at Marshall Field's had produced their own Mid-western interpretation of the Frango chocolate recipe.
Even after the store's demise, the F & N Frango lives on. In the Northwest, they were sold in
The Bon Marché(now Macy's) as well as in Portland's Meier & Frank. Frangos can still be found in Macy'sstores in Seattle in their familiar hexagonal box. In addition, they are still a favorite at the Macy's stores that were Marshall Field's.
*Corvallis - Downtown (opened ? as Lipman's, became Frederick & Nelson in 1979, became
The Crescentin 1988, Lamontsin 1990's, Gottschalksin 2000, closed 2004)
Downtown Portland(opened 1912 as Lipmans, became Frederick & Nelson 1979, turned back to Lipmans in 1979, closed 1986)
Jantzen Beach Center(opened 1972 as Liberty House, became Frederick & Nelson 1979, sold to The Crescent1985, closed in 1989, demolished in 1992)
Lloyd Center(opened 1960 as Lipmans, became Frederick & Nelson 1979, turned back to Lipmans in 1979, closed 1986, became a second Nordstrom in 1986, demolished in 1990)
*Salem - Downtown Salem (near Salem Center Mall) (opened as Lipmans, became Frederick & Nelson 1979, location closed in 1987)
*Tigard - Washington Square (opened 1974 as Lipmans, became Frederick & Nelson 1979, closed 1991, became a Nordstrom in 1994)
Bellevue Square(formerly Bellevue Shopping Square) [cite web|url=http://content.lib.washington.edu/cgi-bin/viewer.exe?CISOROOT=/imlseastside&CISOPTR=130&CISORESTMP=/site-templates/search_results-sub.html&CISOVIEWTMP=/site-templates/item_viewer.html&CISOMODE=thumb&CISOGRID=thumbnail,A,1;title,A,1;subjec,A,0;descri,200,0;0,A,0;10&CISOBIB=title,A,1,N;subjec,A,0,N;descri,K,0,N;0,A,0,N;0,A,0,N;10&CISOTHUMB=3,5&CISOTITLE=10=|title=University of Washington Libraries Digital Collection Bellevue Store] (opened in 1946, closed in 1992 and split into smaller stores, basement portion now Macy's home store)
*Everett - Everett Mall (opened in 1980, sold and converted to Mervyns in 1992, Made into LA Fitness and Steve & Barry's in 2007)
Lakewood Towne Center(formerly Lakewood Mall and Villa Plaza (opened 1957 as Rhodes, became Liberty House, became Frederick & Nelson 1979, relocated 1989, closed 1991, acquired 1992 by Gottschalks)
*Olympia - Capital Mall (opened in 1980, sold and converted to Mervyns in 1992)
*Seattle - Aurora Village Shopping Mall (opened in 1962, closed in 1991, entire mall demolished in 1992)
Downtown Seattle(Former Flagship, now Nordstrom flagship) (location opened 1918, closed in 1992, became Nordstrom in 1998)
Westfield Southcenter(formerly Southcenter Mall) (opened in 1968, closed in 1992, reopened as Sears in 1994)
*Spokane - Downtown (opened as The Crescent in 1919, became Frederick & Nelson 1988, closed in 1992, currently Crescent Court)
*Spokane - NorthTown Mall (opened as The Crescent in 1959, became Frederick & Nelson 1988, closed in 1992, reopened as Lamonts in 1993, demolished in 2000, now Barnes & Noble, Nordstrom, Regal Cinemas)
*Spokane - University City Shopping Center opened as The Crescent 1969, became Frederick & Nelson in 1988, closed in 1991, reopened as Lamonts in 1991, vacant since 1996)
*Tacoma - Tacoma Mall opened 1973 as Liberty House, became Frederick & Nelson 1979, acquired by Mervyns 1992, closed 2007 and demolished)
* [http://nwda-db.wsulibs.wsu.edu/findaid/ark:/80444/xv72858 Guide to the Frederick & Nelson Records at the Museum of History & Industry, Seattle]
* [http://www.pdxhistory.com/html/frederick___nelson.html PDXHistory.com]
* [http://www.historylink.org/essays/output.cfm?file_id=2939 The Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History] 2001 essay by David Wilma
* [http://www.historylink.org/essays/output.cfm?file_id=3774 The Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History] 2002 essay by founder's great grandson Gordon Padelford
Seattle Daily Journal of Commercearchives
* [http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/archives/1992/9205220093.asp Mourning Frederick's the Great: Patrons and employees remember the store as the 'ultimate in luxury'] , "Seattle Post-Intelligencer", May 22, 1992.
*Spector, Robert. More Than A Store: Frederick & Nelson 1890 to 1990. Bellevue: Documentary Book Publishers Corp., 1990.
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