Filene's: Boston's Great Specialty Store (Images of America)

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9780738591582: Filene's: Boston's Great Specialty Store (Images of America)

Regarded as the "World's Largest Specialty Store," William Filene's Sons Company, founded in 1870, brought fashion and entertainment to generations of Bostonians. Brothers Edward and Lincoln Filene were revolutionaries who championed employee relations and innovative merchandising. In 1909, Edward organized and opened Filene's famous Automatic Bargain Basement. Lincoln helped found the Federated Department Stores Company in March 1929. Filene's was a pioneer in branch-store development. In its heyday, the store hosted appearances by fashion designers, such as Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin, and Pauline Trigère, in addition to celebrities, like Zsa Zsa Gabor, Gloria Swanson, and Gene Autry. A victim of retail consolidation, the flagship downtown Boston store closed its doors in 2006. Its building, designed by the internationally renowned architect Daniel Burnham, celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2012 and anxiously awaits its redevelopment. Most of these historic photographs come directly from the Filene Marketing Archives at the Boston Public Library.

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About the Author:

Author Michael J. Lisicky is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and serves as an oboist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He lectures and has written extensively on various department store histories.

Review:

"Employees close the door to Filene's at the Cape Cod Mall for the last time on March 26, 2006. PAUL BLACKMORE/Cape Cod Filene's lighthouse-style building in the "Queen's Buyway" mall and its downtown Hyannis store began as seasonal shops for Bostonians who needed to pick up a few things while summering on the Cape.
"Filene's in Hyannis and Falmouth were like traveling trunk shows ... They wanted to stress these were the same prices you'd get in Boston. Both stores were predominantly 'a ladies' shop' but Hyannis was special because it had a children's shoe shop," says Michael J. Lisicky, an oboist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. How is it that a professional musician knows so much about the minute details of Filene's? While music is his vocation, department store history is a passionate avocation that has led Lisicky to pen books about Hutzler's, Wanamaker's, Gimbels and, most recently, "Filene's: Boston's Great Specialty Store" (Arcadia Publishing, $21.95).
"It's not a coincidence that my 12-year-old daughter's name is Jordan," says Lisicky, noting that department store giant, Jordan Marsh, was often paired with Filene's. (He dedicates the Filene's book to her, noting that she's lucky her parents didn't make her middle name Marsha as they considered.)
"Filene's was a ready-to-wear store at a time when people were making their own clothes at home. They were a specialty store, not a department store. They didn't have housewares, furniture or appliances. For that, you went to Jordan Marsh."
Although Filene's closed in 2006, this year marks the 100th anniversary of its flagship building in downtown Boston, designed by the internationally renowned architect Daniel Burnham, Lisicky writes, noting that the building "anxiously awaits its redevelopment."
With more than 200 old photos and advertisements from the Filene's Marketing Archives at the Boston Public Library, as well as reams of research, Lisicky tells the story of a Jewish immigrant, William Filene, who opened a dry goods store in 1851 that would grow, through the generations, into a retail empire.
"Thank goodness, somebody had the forethought not to throw out these photos and advertisements," says Lisicky, whose book includes a 1978 Filene's Basement flier explaining the automatic price reduction system and a puzzle that was part of a circa 1970 coloring contest at the Hyannis Filene's.
In addition to providing the Cape's first specialty store in 1920, the second-generation Filene brothers were neighbors on the peninsula.
"William's sons, (Abraham) Lincoln and Edward Filene, shared a summer home on the Cape. It was their Hyannisport," Lisicky says in an interview from his Maryland home. "Lincoln Filene passed away at the place in Marstons Mills in 1957 and is buried there."
The book's foreword is written by Lincoln Filene Ladd, an octogenarian who is a grandson of Lincoln Filene.
The bulk of Lisicky's book focuses on Filene's flagship store and how the Filene brothers changed the retail industry by stressing employee relations and benefits, as well as pairing fashion and entertainment. The flagship store had a restaurant with no tipping allowed.
"In its heyday, the store hosted appearances by fashion designers, such as Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin, and Pauline Trigère, in addition to celebrities, like Zsa Zsa Gabor, Gloria Swanson, and Gene Autry, Lisicky writes.
But the Filene brothers were also known for their adeptness at opening branch stores, including one in Falmouth in 1920, Providence in 1922 and Hyannis in 1923.
"The store on Queen's Buyway went year-round at Christmas 1940. They had to winterize (the circa 1925 Cape Cod building). With soldiers coming to Camp Edwards (the East Coast's largest World War II mobilization base), there were such limited shopping availabilities," Lisicky says.
Post-war, the Falmouth Filene's closed in 1947 and business transferred to the Hyannis store, which had opened year-round in 1943 and remained open until Filene's moved to Cape Cod Mall when it opened in 1970.
"The Cape Cod Mall said it opened in 1971, but it actually opened June 15, 1970," Lisicky says. "I get anal about details because I would like people to be able to use this book as a historical reference."
In 2005, Filene's closed at the mall, leaving only the Filene's Basement store across the way on Route 132. That closed in 2009.
Lisicky says he was surprised at the strong affection and loyalty people still express for the defunct Filene's stores.
"These places stuck with you. They encouraged family and good benefits for workers," he says. "The store closed March 1, 2005, and the Filene's faithful wax nostalgic, mourning tradition, talking about going to Boston twice a year to shop. Older people especially liked Filene's because they grew up with it.""
Cape Cod Times, Gwenn Friss

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Book Description Arcadia Publishing (SC), United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 229 x 163 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Regarded as the World s Largest Specialty Store, William Filene s Sons Company, founded in 1870, brought fashion and entertainment to generations of Bostonians. Brothers Edward and Lincoln Filene were revolutionaries who championed employee relations and innovative merchandising. In 1909, Edward organized and opened Filene s famous Automatic Bargain Basement. Lincoln helped found the Federated Department Stores Company in March 1929. Filene s was a pioneer in branch-store development. In its heyday, the store hosted appearances by fashion designers, such as Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin, and Pauline Trigere, in addition to celebrities, like Zsa Zsa Gabor, Gloria Swanson, and Gene Autry. A victim of retail consolidation, the flagship downtown Boston store closed its doors in 2006. Its building, designed by the internationally renowned architect Daniel Burnham, celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2012 and anxiously awaits its redevelopment. Most of these historic photographs come directly from the Filene Marketing Archives at the Boston Public Library. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780738591582

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Book Description Arcadia Publishing (SC), United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 229 x 163 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Regarded as the World s Largest Specialty Store, William Filene s Sons Company, founded in 1870, brought fashion and entertainment to generations of Bostonians. Brothers Edward and Lincoln Filene were revolutionaries who championed employee relations and innovative merchandising. In 1909, Edward organized and opened Filene s famous Automatic Bargain Basement. Lincoln helped found the Federated Department Stores Company in March 1929. Filene s was a pioneer in branch-store development. In its heyday, the store hosted appearances by fashion designers, such as Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin, and Pauline Trigere, in addition to celebrities, like Zsa Zsa Gabor, Gloria Swanson, and Gene Autry. A victim of retail consolidation, the flagship downtown Boston store closed its doors in 2006. Its building, designed by the internationally renowned architect Daniel Burnham, celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2012 and anxiously awaits its redevelopment. Most of these historic photographs come directly from the Filene Marketing Archives at the Boston Public Library. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780738591582

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