Crowley's: Detroit's Friendly Store
is now available on Amazon.
Click the photo to go directly to
Crowley, Milner & Co.
120-126 Gratiot Avenue
DOWNTOWN STORE DIRECTORY
Crowley’s Budget Store • Basement Cafeteria • Soda Fountain • Snack Bar • Shoe Repair
Fine Jewelry (Dept. 133) • Better Jewelry (Dept. 19) • Costume Jewelry (Dept. 19) • Handbags (Dept. 21) • Small Leather Goods (Dept. 21) • Gloves (Dept. 7) • Scarves (Dept. 26) • Hat Bar (Dept. 184) • Bosiery (Dept. 14) • Wonderful World of Beauty (Dept. 17) • Blouses (Dept. 22) • Sweaters (Dept. 22) • Career Sportswear (Dept. 22) • Street Floor Lingerie • Notions (Dept. 15) • Candy • Stationery Office Equipment (Dept 89) • Red Cross Shoes • Drugs (Dept. 17) • Gourmet Shop (Dept. 3)
Books (Dept. 30) • Luggage (Dept. 4) • Cameras (Dept. 41) • Record Shop • Engraved Stationery • Jewelry Repair • Religious Articles • Drugs • Pharmacy • Optical • Beauty Salon • Chiropody • Travel Service • Mezzanine Tea Room
Children’s Wear (Dept. 56) • Infants and Toddlers (Dept. 39) • Girl’s Wear (Dept. 68) • Young Girls’ Wear (Dept. 58) • Children’s Shoes (Dept. 75) • Children’s Furniture (Dept. 63) • Shoe Salon (Dept. 40) • Gift Wrapping Service
Misses’ Dresses (Dept. 60) • Misses’ Sportswear (Dept. 42) • Coats and Suits (Dept. 36,37) • Renbrooke Fur Salon (Dept. 137) • Talk of the Town • Cosmopolitan Shop (Dept. 79) • The Expressionist Shop • Bridal Shop • Young Idea Shop (Dept. 52) • Career Dresses (Dept. 53) • Custom Shop (Dept. 80) • Women’s Sportswear (Dept. 60) • Millinery (Dept. 183) • junior Sportswear (Dept. 69) • Junior Dresses (Dept. 81) • Junior Coats (Dept. 72) • Young Juniors (Dept. 64) • Maternity Shop
Robes (Dept. 66) • Nightwear (Dept. 7) • Daytime Lingerie (Dept. 38) • Loungewear (Dept. 66) • Foundations (Dept. 67) • Linens (Dept. 6) • Domestics (Dept. 9, 10) • Bath Boutique Shop (Dept. 6) • Sewing Center (Dept. 140) • Fabrics (Dept. 8) • Art Needlework (Dept. 6) • Tree Lane (Dept. 61)
Housewares (Dept. 1) • Creative Cookery Gourmet Shop (Dept. 1) • Hardware (Dept. 47) • Appliances (Dept. 57) • China (Dept. 5) • Table Linens (Dept. 12) • Glassware • Silver • Gift Shop • Music Center (Dept. 20) • Records (Dept. 161) • Televisions (Dept. 20) • Pet Supplies • Gems of the World • Garden Shop
Draperies (Dept. 46) • Curtains (Dept. 46) • Lamps (Dept. 59) • Pictures • Mirrors (Dept. 59) • Floor Coverings (Dept. 45) • Rugs (Dept. 45) • Toys (Dept. 2) • Sporting Goods (Dept. 2) • Casual Furniture • Trim-A-Home Shop (Dept. 61)
Furniture (Dept. 48) • Sleep Center (Dept. 90) • Interior Decorating Service • Credit Office
Display Department • Offices
Men’s Furnishings (Dept. 27) • Men’s Sportswear (Dept. 98)
Men’s Clothing (Dept. 71) • Young Men’s Shop (Dept. 94) • Men’s Shoes • Men’s Hats • Boys’ Wear (Dept. 33)
Stock and service area
Children’s Play Room • Crowley's Photo Studio
Advertising • Executive Offices • Employment Office • Public Relations • Purchasing
Personal Shopping Service—Kay Graham
Stock and service area
February 26, 1959
106,000 sq. ft.
Westborn Tea Room
|Grand River at Greenfield|
October 29, 1964
127,000 sq. ft.
October 29, 1964
127,000 sq. ft.
August 3, 1972
Woodward at Milwaukee, Detroit
60,000 sq. ft.
August 3, 1972
85,000 sq. ft.
former Demery's (August 18, 1966)
August 14, 1972
Woodward Avenue at Hamilton Row
69,000 sq. ft.
former Demery's (April 27, 1961)
September 11, 1975
Sterling Heights, MI
115,000 sq. ft.
The history of Crowley, Milner & Co., which competed with Detroit's powerful and dominant J. L. Hudson Co., is fairly unique among department stores. The company was not started as a small business by young, ambitious retailers, but burst on the scene full grown and phoenix-like, out of the "ashes" of an earlier, failed store.
Before the rise of Hudson's, the Detroit department stores included names like Newcomb, Endicott & Co., Mabley and Company, and the smaller, but well-regarded Pardridge and Walsh, located on Woodward Avenue at Congess Street. The store was founded as Pardrige & Co. by Edwin Pardridge, a Chicago merchant who lost interest in the business as he dabbled (and made a great fortune) in grain futures on the Chicago Board of Trade
He took on Irish immigrant Robert J. Walsh as a partner to look after his other interests, and by the time of his death, his son Willard purchased the Detroit store in 1896 and its name was changed to Pardridge & Walsh, under the slogan "The people's Dry Goods Trading Emporium." Three years later, Walsh was murdered in Chicago. By this time, however, Henry Blackwell, himself an immigrant from the Emeral Isle" had shown such promise as a manager at the store.
Blackwell engineered the store's move into Detroit's Majestic (originally Mabley) building, at the time, tallest in Michigan, after the death of Christoper R. Mabley ( -1885) and the painful decline and bankruptcy of the store that bore his name.
The store in the Majestic building occupied 8 floors of what was then the tallest building in Michigan, and opened in 1902. From this point on enjoyed success as one of Detroit's most popular and elegant department stores. Pardridge & Blackwell soon developed an appropriately-shaped logo, featuring its "P & B" initials, that indicated that the store was "The Heart of Detroit."
By 1905, Pardridge & Blackwell announced that it had obtained financing "from east-coast interests" to construct an entirely new building on Farmer Street between Gratiot Avenue and Monroe, just off the city's all-important Woodward Avenue. The six-story, terra-cotta clad store, executed in a rich, neo-renaissance style, was to have covered carriage entryways, a protective marquis running around three sides of the building, and something entirely new in Detroit - an escalator connecting its first and second floors.
Pardridge & Blackwell began occupying the store during the Christmas, 1906 season, but delayed a grand opening until February of the next year when the fitting-out process reached completion. The fact that 100,000 people explored the store on opening day supported P&B's claim that its new home was "the handsomest business block in Detroit."
Sadly, the terrible panic of 1907 hit the firm hard, especially since it operated an in-house bank that suffered a run similar to banks all across the country. Quietly, the store began to discuss its liabilites in its own board room and sent out pleas for relief and an extension of payment terms for over $1.1 Million in liabilities. Detroit banks held many of the operating loans to the company, and concurrently thought about ways to help Pardridge & Blackwell to avoid an outright bankruptcy, which would have further hurt them, as creditors, as well.
During this time, the three Crowley brothers, Joseph (1862-1925); Daniel (1864-1936); and William (1866-1927), the sons of Roman Catholic immigrants from Ireland, distinguished themselves not just in their educations, but in business as well. In 1901, Joseph Crowley, with his younger brother Daniel, founded the "Crowley Brothers Wholesale Jobbing House." Their firm was located at Jefferson and Shelby streets, and eventually expanded its 5-story Italianate building to six lots on the block.
One of Crowley Brothers' best customers was William Milner, a merchant who operated Toledo's largest department store at the time, Milner & Co., that stood at the Epicenter of Toledo's old Summit Street shopping district. Quietly, the Detroit Central Savings Bank entered into negotiations with the Crowley brothers (all three were employed by the firm in 1908) to take over the Pardridge & Blackwell operation, offering attractive loan rates as an enticement. The Crowleys insisted that an experienced retail man serve as president, owing to their previous focus on the wholesale market, and recommended their Toledo friend, William Milner, who not only accepted the position but brought $100,000.00 of his own money to the deal.
After a period of operation in which the new partners ran the existing Pardridge & Blackwell, store, the company took out a full-page ad in the Detroit Free Press, announcing "A New Name for an Old Firm," explaining the changes that customers could anticipate in the store that was once known as the "Heart of Detroit." The new store name would be, from now on, Crowley, Milner & Co. The Crowleys and Milner stated that the store would close its bank so as to leave that business to bankers, open a new tea room, and remodel the store to eliminate the (rather frightening) early escalators that it saw as a waste of valuable store space, and make it a more "democratic" store that catered to most Detroiters, from the well-to-do down to what the Crowley family often referred to as "the shawl trade," a reference to Italian immigrants concentrated on Detroit's east side and the large Polish community concentrated in Hamtramck, north of Downtown Detroit, among others of similar background.
Success was quick and intensive, as Detroit had become a prosperous and growing industrial center, and growth accelerated after 1914, when Henry Ford doubled his Detroit workers' wages in one fell swoop. Crowley's began to expand just one year after its inauguration, by buying the adjacent Owen & Company furniture store on Gratiot Avenue, and remodeling it to serve as a greatly-expanded men's store. In the next year it extended down Gratiot to Farmer Street by occupying the next building, and began the process of buying up the whole block for future projects.
In early 1916, it was announced that a new eight-story structure, matching the original Pardridge & Blackwell building, would be completed over the whole block. One year later, in 1917, Crowley, Milner & Co. purchased the 1912 eight-story Goldberg Brothers store across Library Street. This they operated as "The Emporium" until two new floors were added to the 1906 P&B building, making the Crowley, Milner & Co. plant a cohesive and attractive 8-floor department store that covered a whole block bounded by Gratiot Avenue, Farmert Street, Monroe Avenue, and Library Street.
When the aforementioned top-two floors were completed, Crowley's converted the former Emporium into its "Store For homes," which it expanded to eleven floors in 1923. Two years later. it completed the complex with a beautifully detailed, terra cotta-clad bridge over Library Street, that was embellished by two large clocks and stylized griffins between its seventh-floor windows. The architectural work of practically all of Crowley's downtown store was done by Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, a long-established Detroit firm, that also designed most of Hudson's store as well.
There was tragedy, as well, during these years of growth. William Milner, who commuted regularly between his Toledo home and Detroit, was fatally injured in a gruesome car accident in August of 1922. Though the Crowley brothers never took on another partner, they kept the Crowley, Milner & Co. name in place as a matter of respect for their highly accomplished friend and business partner.
Joseph J. Crowley died of a heart attack in his Grosse Pointe home in November of 1925. While the city mourned a business and community leader of "rare judgement and courage" who freely offered other businessmen "His wise counsel" according to eulogies in the press.
accordingly, his wife Jenny joined Crowley's board of directors in his place and became a force with which to be reckoned, as her husband often confided in her and sought her "feminine intuition" as an adjunct to his own retailing ability. Even past her retirement, she was a regular site, riding the Jefferson Avenue bus downtown, to tour the store almost daily and chat with employees and customers to keep a guiding eye on her family's business.
With Jenny's leadership, the Crowley family was to buy back control of the store in 1927, from Milner's family, who had already let the Toledo operation wither and die. The store, led by Daniel Crowley, remodeled in 1928, adding a new mezzanine with a popular restaurant and installing the legendary wooden escalators that were beloved by Crowley's customers, long after competitors had switched to the faster (and quieter) streamlined steel models that became available in later decades.
Crowley's became known as "Detroit's Friendly Store" after this time, as much as for its kind-hearted staff as for its elaborate Christmas celebrations, which included a whole floor of the so-called East building across Library Street equipped with indoor carnival rides to entertain children after a visit (or breakfast) with Santa. Eventually, the East Building had reverted to housing Crowley's men's store on its lower floors and various service functions above, which included a large "Victory Center" during World War II.
The store's community involvement and profile was nowhere more prominent during the depression years, which it survived, and during which it stepped up to fund the city's annual illuminated Christmas Tree, "rather than see the tradition lost due to a lack of funds." Crowley's came through the depression, though in a weakened and less profitable state, a situation that was resolved by the hiring of Ohio-born university lecturer Jay D. Runkle as general manager. Runkle became known as "the Professor" among the store's staff, for his business acumen and ability to put new and innovative practices to work at the store.
Runkle quickly returned Crowley's to prosperity and the store assumed its place as a worthy, albeit smaller competitor to the J. L. Hudson Co., the ever-present leviathan on the other side of Farmer Street. Later presidents, such as James H. Chamberlain and Robert E. Winkel recognized the role that Deroit's outwardly-mobile population would play in the retail business, albeit later than Hudson's did. Crowley's watched the larger store open two spacious branch stores in planned shopping centers before it opened its 1959 Westborn Shopping Center store in Dearborn, a western suburb that was associated with Henry Ford, and indeed was the home of the large headquarters of family-owned car company that bore his name.
Smaller and less elaborate than Hudson's Northland or Eastland offerings, the Westborn store was nevertheless a great success, and spurred Crowley's on to open another, albeit smaller store, installed in the shell of a former H.L. Green variety store in Detroit's popular west-side Grand River Avenue and Greenfield Road shopping district, in 1960.
In 1963, a local developer announced new, completely enclosed shopping centers in east-side Roseville and back on the west side at Livonia. Crowley's announced two "twin" branch stores in these shopping centers. The two ground-breakings were simultaneous, and president Robert Winkel got hings started in style by pushing one button that detonated explosions on each site. The twin, two-story branches opened in the fall of 1964, and, while profitable, put a strain on Crowley's finances and profitability due to their opening and operating costs. Accordingly, plans for a branch at suburban Troy's Oakland Mall, which would have brought Detroit's two major local retailers under one roof were abruptly canceled, and never revived.
Further expansion had to wait until March of 1972, when it was announced that Crowley's had purchased Demery & Co., a small fashion department store operation that had been founded in Detroit's New Center area, north of the main downtown section, in 1911. By the time of Crowley's acquisition, Demery's had added a branch in the well-to-do suburb of Birmingham in 1960, and in Farmington in 1965. After a short period of closure, these three stores were remodeled and reopened later in the year.
By that time, after the devastating riots that changed the face of the city in 1967, rumors regularly circulated that Crowley's would close its downtown store, which had become dated and tattered due to lack of new investment. The announcement came in April of 1973 that Crowley's would cease to do business in its landmark store by 1976 when its lease ended.
That same lease, citing the desires of the "east coast interests" that helped finance the original Pardridge & Blackwell store, called for the demolition of all buildings on the site and the return of the property to the condition at the time that the lease was signed. In fact, by this time, customers had largely abandoned downtown Detroit due to deterioration, crime and fear. Hudson's hung on due to sheer size (it was able to contract store space to meet rapidly falling sales) but the writing was on the wall for Crowley's, whose physical plant was older and smaller than the big red store on Woodward.
One more suburban store was opened in September of 1975, far north of Detroit in Lakeside Mall. This beautiful, full-line (at the time) store seemed to point toward a renewed future for Crowley's, with its modern and elegant decor and fashion emphasis, but the former Demery stores, which sold only soft goods, reflected that future as well. THe old downtown store closed almost two years later, on July 2, 1977, and the building was unceremoniously pulled down during the bitter winter of 1978, only serving to emphasize the bleak atmosphere downtown Detroit had taken on by then. Interestingly, the East Building remained standing since Crowley's owned it outright, and it became the small, locally-owned chain's headquarters, until it, too, fell to the wrecking ball a few years later, after Crowley's moved its offices to a former Greyhound bus maintenance facility on the fringes of the downtown area, in the shadow of Detroit's landmark Ambassador Bridge.
Shorn of its difficult downtown operation, Crowley's opened smaller branches in suburban Warren, Ann Arbor, Southfiled, Westland, and Flint, as it upscaled its fashion-based offerings under president Robert Carlson, who came to Crowley's from Chicago's partrician Marshall Field & Company. In the 1980s, Crowley's beautifully merchandised newer stores reflected a bright future for Crowley's in the suburban Detroit market,. In the city of Detrroit, it replaced the former Demery's flagship on Woodward Avenue with a new clothing-only branch in New Center One, a contemporary office building next to the popular art-deco Fisher Building on Grand Boulevard north of downtown.
Unfortunately, competition from other retailers (Lord & Taylor entered the same market with 4 stores in the late 1970s), and a general business recession in the Detroit market found Crowley's in trouble by the 1990s. After Carlson's departure, later management entered into a deal with Columbus, Ohio's Schottenstein stores, that saw Crowley's merge with the New Jersey-based Steinbach stores that had also been acquired by the parent company This combination doubled the size of Crowley's sales in 1997, but when the difficulty of stocking and merchandising two different stores in two different markets became a problem, the firm racked up an astronomical loss of 6.5 million dollars in 1998. By 1999, Crowley's laid off its employees, closed its branches, and "Detroit's Friendly Store" became a thing of the past.
Read more about Crowley's:
My grandmother, Miriam Aberle, moved from Dayton, OH to Detroit, MI in 1914 (I have her trunk with her name/address handpainted on the side). She found a job at Crowley's hand-dipping chocolates in the candy department. I still have the handwritten note asking her to kindly stop by the candy department for an interview!ReplyDelete
I am from Toronto Canada. When my Aunt died at the age of 89 I was given some of her furniture. In one of the dresser drawers I found a children's Christmas story book entitled "The Christmas Ball" by Florence Notter. On the back of the book it reads "Crowley, Milner & Co. The Christmas Store for All Detroit" which leads me to believe that this must have been a promotional item given to children at Christmas. The books copyright is 1917 but I have very little info. on Florence Notter or the book anywhere.ReplyDelete
I you can help email me at email@example.com
The book itself is in pretty good shape and every page is signed by the author who must have drawn the pictures too.
My sister-in-law found a photograph of, maybe, a dinner gathering in a hall. The frame has a sticker that says Crowley & Milner, Co., no. 320. The photographer was Drucker & Co., NY. Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any information.ReplyDelete
When did Crowley's go out of business? I have some artwork that is from Crowley Milner and was just wondering if Crowley's ever sold fine art.ReplyDelete
If you have any information, please e-mail me at email@example.com Thank you!
I am also interested on when Crowley's went out of business and how long were they in business.... what year did they first open? I just recently came across a copy of Famous Episodes in Early American History by Crowley's celebrating their 20th year anniversaryReplyDelete
If you have any information please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank-You
Thank you so much for this. My grandparents were from the Crowley family....now deceased...I have wonderful memories of the stores and being the first and only Crowley grandaughter for many yrs I was the best dressed kid on the block!!! Oh how I miss the stores and my GrandparentsReplyDelete
Are you Joe Keys daughter? I worked for the company for almost 20 years. It wa a great experienceDelete
No the above comment from anonymous, 5-8-2012, is not from Joe Keys daughter. I am happy to read positive feedback about working with the company. Of course, I loved the store as well.Delete
Thank you for your comments. Can you please contact me at email@example.com? I believe that there is demand for a book about Crowley's, but I wouldn't know how to find first-hand information. When my parents lived in a skilled-nursing facility at the end of their lives, there was also a lady there who worked in the furniture department and told tales of the store; it was interesting!ReplyDelete
I had worked downtown and I used to go there on my lunch and ride the only wooden escaltor in Detroit. I can still hear the wood moving. I loved that store.ReplyDelete
I worked at the Crowley location in Warren Michigan in the mid '90s. I think they completely went out of business around 1999. It was my first job. Even out in the suburban location you felt the history behind the store working there. I wish could hear more stories. You hear about Hudson's a lot, but people forget about Crowley's. The store had some long time customers that shopped often. There was a senior living complex down the street from the Universal Mall location, there were ladies who would ride the bus a couple of times month and shop, and talk to us.ReplyDelete
I've wondered what happen to a lot of the ladies I worked with. In Universal there were two woman named June that I remember. One trained me and another was a floor manager. Quite a few others that if I saw their face I may remember them.
It was sad to be there at the end, and I would have loved to see it in it's glory.
Hi Denise. . Steve Kennedy here, John Skanska former boss..he was a great guy, great store manager.. knew his wife and was saddened to have to attend his funeralDelete
Loved this store unit...
My father worked for Crowley's until the day they closed. My first job was working for Crowley's. I have very fond memories. I would love to see a book written. The people who worked there were the best.ReplyDelete
When I was in high school, I had a choice of working for a neighborhood florist or Crowley's as part of the "Co-Op Program" - an opportunity for high school kids to get their first job experience and still go to school. My mother suggested I take the job at Crowley's because there would be an opportunity for job advancement. Mom is always right! I started as cashier in 1968 at the downtown store during the Christmas season. It was a busy time of going to school and getting a ride to my new job working until 7pm (Christmas hours). Over the years, I worked my way up from cashier to secretary for a buyer - secretary to a Merchandise Manager - then Assistant Buyer in the Bedding area. At that time, there were dinette sets, utility cabinets, paint and hardware - then reduced to just bedding and bath. My office, when I was secretary for the buyer, Joseph Marino and his assistant, Ronald Burgy, was located on the bridge that crossed the street between the two buildings. When the Downtown store closed, we moved to the old Greyhound building about two miles down Fort street. Around that time I was promoted to Assistant Buyer for Bedding and Bath. My first job lasted 23 years at Crowley's.ReplyDelete
My Grandfather worked for CMC not sure when. I'm trying to research a set of keys with a locker tag #F372. If any one has any info about it I would apreciate if you could e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. His last name was FerlandReplyDelete
I am a member of the Crowley family. The company was established in the 1920's and closed in 1999. My mother was one of the controlling partners of the business until it closed in the late 90's.ReplyDelete
As a child, I remember being dragged to the store kicking and screaming, because I preferred to wear jeans and t-shirts, however my mother would have no part of that.
I would be very interested in talking to Anonymous, who stated she was from the Crowley family.
Email me at email@example.com
I have a framed picture that says Crowley Milner Co on the back with #139 and 6-19067.ReplyDelete
There is no signature on the picture and I can't tell if it is watercolor or a print.
Picture measures 8X27 and the frame 12X31.
Any idea where I can get information about it?
email firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you
I worked at the Advertising Production Manager for a few years after grad school. Talented group of people in that department. Very interesting to work in the store after growing up shopping there with my family.ReplyDelete
My grandfather (Robert Winkel) was President of Crowley's for many years... Does anyone know of any resources for photos of Crowley's? I have his desk from his office, and would love a picture of his office from "back in the day". Also, I have pieces of the wooden escalator that I would love to see a pic of the real thing. I loved hearing about Detroit retail in it's heyday from my grandfather/grandmother!ReplyDelete
I spent much time with your grandfather in his office, weekly operating and monthly board meetings..remember his desk so vividly and that great office with its fine paneling..I consider him to be the most honest, most ethical, man I ever met and it was an honor to have served beside him as his Sr Vice President..and I miss Effie as well, a beautiful lady full of grace..and charm and goodnessDelete
The photo archive website "Shorpy" has a wonderful picture from July 1941 titled "Order Online". In this case,it is a picture of women sitting at a partitioned desk taking telephone orders for Crowley Milner. There may well be other pictures of the store on Shorpy,but I have not looked. All the photos on the site are digitally enhanced,so you can zoom in and look closely at parts. So realistic,you'd like to step in and warn the ladies about what was coming in December..ReplyDelete
Shorpy website : Give Him a Schick: 1941. Fascinating detail.ReplyDelete
My grandparents both worked downtown and met there. She worked in the cafeteria and he was in security. This would have been in the 1920's.ReplyDelete
Wow...My mom worked at Crowley's as a teenager from 1977-1998 when they closed. I also worked at Crowley's. It was my first job as a teenager @the New Center One location. I started doing inventory and folding clothes after school (1993). I was making about $4.25/hr. Seemed like alot to me back then. We were all one big family. Everyone worked together so well and alot of the adults had their kids working there. It really was a family. I am still friends and in contact with alot of them today. They saw me grow up in that store. Wow....brings me to tears...so many memories..ReplyDelete
At 16 Hudsons was my first job as a stock boy, I worked the 2nd 3rd and 4th floors, one of my favorite spots to hang out was the record dept, wherei would listen to all my favorite music for free, I also used to hide on the 13th floor when I didn't want to be found by my pain in the a...boss, who eventually found me on the back stairway.......ahem!ReplyDelete
I used to date a girl who worked at Crowley's perfume counter on the first floor of the downtown store, we were both16, I think she was latin and lived on the east side, I think her name was Maria? Anyway I do remember the clakity clack of the wooden escalators.ReplyDelete
I have this old family hand me down plaster of paris " Santa" from Crowley's department store front window Christmast display. He looks left at you, as walk by down the Gratiot ave. front window. I am curious about it's history, time frame,photos,etcReplyDelete
My next book will be about Crowley's, and if I come across anything, I can let you know, if you care to send your email address to email@example.com.
With luck, the book will be out before next Christmas.
My first job was at Crowleys on Grand River in Detroit in 1982. I was still in high school. My best friend in high school also got a job there at the same time. I would love to connect with others who worked at the Grand river location from 1982-1987.ReplyDelete
When I starting working at Crowleys in 1982, they were still writing receipts by hand. They felt cash registers were too impersonal and did not fit their image. About a year later they decided to get with the times and trained us on the register.ReplyDelete
They also had a large payroll department of wonderful ladies who counted out weekly payroll dollars and cents into pay envelopes. .until we converted over to computerized machinesDelete
My first job was at Crowleys in Farmington from about 1969 or 1970 to 1975. I worked in the handbag/jewelry departments, fill in store telephone operator with the old type system with the plug in cords!! and moved up to the Display area. Loved it.! Moved over to the Birmingham store as Display Supervisor with about 3-6 people in our Department and about 12 windows to decorate if my memoir is correct. We created all the backdrops for our windows and also inside displays, took maniquins downtown to the main store area for repairs, our downtown main display area was very large with lots of photos in file cabinets to draw ideas from and props to transfer out to our stores. Lots of awesome memoirs of things not really done any longer. The Farmington store is now a grocery store!! Every time I go in there it brings back great memories!!ReplyDelete
I am working on a book, like the one I wrote about Jacobson's, on Crowley's. I would like to interview you - can you contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org?ReplyDelete
I worked for Crowley's in Birmingham. I will never forget the men and women who were part of my life for seven years. The funny part, I can still remember my employee I.d. 70350 - - LOL.ReplyDelete
When did Crowley's buy Demery's? Were they based in Detroit as well?ReplyDelete
I believe it was in 1972. Demery's was based in Detroit, on Woodward near the GM building. IT was a smaller operation than Crowley's, and had branches in Birmingham (downtown) and Farmington (Kendallwood Center). I am preparing research for a book about Crowley's and I will have more information in due course.ReplyDelete
You are right about the dates, bak..I can give you more background info on this if you wishDelete
Can you please email me at email@example.com? I would love to hear all I can about Demery's and Crowley's as I am in the research process right now. I have tracked-down a member of the Crowley family who also has a lot of knowledge, but I need to entice them a bit more to cooperate with me. Thanks for your offer!ReplyDelete
To Steve Kennedy:ReplyDelete
I would love to talk with you about Crowley's. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
any pictures of "lunch with santa" from 1960's with singer reitta rayeReplyDelete
Does anyone remember the Chief Pontiac statue that was in the entrance area near the men's department at the Pontiac store location? Wonder whatever happened to it? It should have been in a museum.ReplyDelete
Whatever happened to the Chief Pontiac statue that used to be at the Pontiac store location?ReplyDelete
You must mean Hudson's since Crowley's did not have a store in Pontiac.ReplyDelete
Crowley's never had a store in Pontiac. Please only make your comments once. Once I have approved it for content, it will be posted.ReplyDelete
As a child my mother would take my sister and I down to Detroit to the Crowley's and Hudsons' stores to shop and see the Christmas displays (early 1960's). In the Crowley's Detroit store they had these elevators with reinforced glass doors that you could watch the elevators go up and down and I was always fascinated to watch them! We just re-arranged a bedroom at my mother's home and noticed the back of the dresser had the Crowley-Milner name on the back. Our mother (born 1922) grew up on Chalfonte Ave. in a much more innocent time. I'm glad she shared these places that meant so much to her before they were destroyed.ReplyDelete
Steve Kennedy - Is Roy Perkins still living in the Detroit area? I used to work for him many many years ago.ReplyDelete
I started my first job in 1979 at the Farmington store and worked for Crowley's on and off through high school, college and newlywed years of my life. I was a cashier, department coordinator, switchboard operator (with the cords, microphone and all), gift wrapper, trained new associates,and worked as an area supervisor in the home area at Farmington, Lakeside, and Birmingham. I remember going downtown to the Detroit Yacht Club for housewares seminars, the big anniversary party (75th I believe), marching for Crowley's in the Detroit Thanksgiving Day Parade, and going downtown to the main office to reenter offline sales. SO many opportunities to learn and work with some of the kindest people. I will always fondly recall my years there and feel fortunate to have experienced retail in a time when how customers were treated meant something. Store associates were encouraged to do their best and wanted to. Things are so very different now and so impersonal. Thanks for the memories Crowley's...I think 'You Were Extra Special'.ReplyDelete
Karen - I think you would really enjoy my book, "Crowley's: Detroit's Friendly Store."ReplyDelete
My neighbor was a buyer and merchandiser for Crowleys Detroit back in the late 40's and 50's she had a very powerful job for a woman in those days she's my hero and is a joy to talk to about the old days a remarkable woman even at 88 years old!!...ReplyDelete
My neighbor was a buyer and merchandiser for Crowleys back in the 40's and 50's such amazing stories she has about being flown by private jet to New York on any given day for work amazing woman even at 88 years oldReplyDelete
Stephanie! I would love to talk with her. I lecture about Crowley's and would like to tell her stories to a wider audience. Can you e-mail me at email@example.com? Thank you.ReplyDelete
Hello. First let me say that the Daytime Lingerie Dept is really a chuckle. I have an old photograph taken at Crowley Milner & Co, Detroit. Don't see a photograpy studio on your list of departments. Do you know about when they added it? Of course the photo is unmarked so we have no clue who it is but we hope that dating the photo might help us. It is a different type photo in that it is just the head and shoulders of a man, edges blurred out. It's in a nice folder with a piece of vellum covering it but it is very faded. Any help you can give us would be appreciated or if you can refer us to someone about this photo. Richard ShoveinReplyDelete
I have updated the store directory to reflect further information as published in the book. Crowley's photo studio was located on the fourth floor of the East Building and appears to have been discontinued in the 1960s.ReplyDelete
Do you know the address of the Grand River StoreReplyDelete
15270 Grand River AvenueDelete
I still have my Christmas cup that says 'I just saw Santa at Crowleys.'ReplyDelete
I worked at the Livonia store during the summer while in college from 1966-68(women's sportswear) Hired by Ms. McGraft. Later at the downtown store. Under Ms. Deeds in the handkerchief department and Ms. Stamos, in curtains in the basement. I remember Karen Kerns from the Livonia store and my supervisor Ms. Meash. Wonderful experience. Joyce....ReplyDelete
In the early 1970s my mother would take my brother and I to the Dearborn location to visit my grandmother. She worked there for many years and loved it. It was fascinating to us to watch her as she worked the switchboard. It was the old type where she had the many wires to plug and unplug to connect the callers to the departments they needed. She recently celebrated her 100th birthday and still recalls fond memories of her time at Crowley's. A short clip of the spring/Easter fashion show filmed by her can be seen on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bnc4fQVQuPU Thank you for your website.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the compliment and the interesting tidbit about your grandmother. God bless herfor her 100th birthday!Delete