Gimbels. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Gimbels 1924 building had a monumental facade
facing the Milwaukee River

In advertsing, Gimberl often depicted the store
from its chamfered corner.

Gimbels - "A Great Store."

The other corner of Gimbels, depicted from the corner
of Wisconsin Avenue and Plankinton Street.

Read Michael Lisicky's excellent
book about Gimbels

Gimbel Bros. (1887)
101 W. Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Street Floor
Delicatessen • Bakery • Groceries • Drugs • Wines and Liquor Shop • The Flower Stand • Candy • Tasty Town Restaurant • Costume Jewelry • Fine Jewelry • Diamonds • Silver • Cutlery • Cosmetics • Headquarters for Famous Perfumes • Handbags • Small Leather Goods • Gloves • Fashion Accessories • Hosiery • Hat Bar • Scarves • Street Floor Blouses • Sweaters • Twin Shoe Shops • Headquarters for Notions • Stationery • Books • Cameras • Smoke Shop • Luggage • Men’s Furnishings • Men’s Toiletries • Shaver Shop • On-the-Town Ticket Booth

Second Floor
Misses’ Dresses • Spectator Sportswear • Coats • Suits • Rainwear • Active Sportswear • Boulevard Dresses • Boulevard Sportswear • Boulevard Coats • Better Dresses • Better Sportswear • Better Coats • Better Suits • Career Dresses • Daytime Dresses • Town and Country Casuals • Women’s World • The Plaza • Circa Now Shop • Club House Sportswear • Fashion Shoes • The Shoe Place • Millinery • Custom Wig Salon • Corset Salon • Lingerie • Robes • Leisurewear • American Room Beauty Salon • Antoine Salon
Junior Center Junior Dresses • Junior Sportswear • Junior Coats

Fifth Avenue Shops Fifth Avenue Shoe Salon • Fifth Avenue Dresses • Fifth Avenue Sportswear • Fifth Avenue Fur Salon • Fifth Avenue Bridal Salon • Talk of the Town Shop

Third Floor
Shops for Men
Men’s Clothing • Men’s Shoes • Men’s Separates • Men’s Hats
Young Fashion Shops Infants’ Wear • Small Fry Shop • Little Girls’ Shop • Girls’ Wear • Young Boys’ Shop • Boys’ Wear • Boys’ and Girls’ Shoes • Young Accessories • Young Lingerie • Young Juniors’ Shop
Toys • Garden Shop • Winter Wares • Sporting Goods • Auditorium

Fourth Floor
Housewares • Small Electrics • Habitat • Country Store • Appliances • Casual Furniture • Paint Shop • Linens • Domestics • Curtains • Draperies • Rugs and Carpets • Oriental Rugs • Fashions-by-the-Yard • White-Elna Sewing Center • Art Needlework

Fifth Floor
Furniture • Bedding • Interior Design Studio • Televisions • Stereos • Radios • Records • Hearing Aids

Sixth Floor
Lamps • Pictures • Mirrors • China • Glassware • Gift Shop • Import BazaarGlitter and Glow Shop • Credit Bureau

Seventh Floor

Eighth Floor
American Express Travel Service • Forum Restaurant • Patio • Employment Office

Parking Pavilion
Electric City Appliances • Televisions • Radios • Stereos • Hardware • Auto Accessories

S. 27th St. at W. Morgan Ave.
October 1, 1954
Tasty Town

2500 N. Mayfair Road
October 19, 1958
211,000 s.f.
Tasty Town

University Ave & Midvale Blvd., Madison
173,000 s.f.

Third Street
2153 W. 3rd. at Garfield
1962 (Opened as Schuster's 1884)
414,000 s.f.

12th and Vliet
N. 12th and W. Vliet
1962 (Opened as Schuster's 1911)

Mitchell St.
1030 W. Mitchell at S. 11th
1962 (Opened as Schuster's 1914)
244,000 s.f.

Capitol Court
5505 W. Capitol Drive
1962 (opened as Schuster's 1956)
260,000 s.f.
Golden Anchor Room

Packard Plaza
5656 S. Packard Ave., Cudahy

5600 S. 76th St., Greendale
217,000 s.f.
Tasty Town

Fox Cities
122 E. College Ave., Appleton
March, 1971
217,000 s.f.
Forum  Restaurant
Tasty Town

East Towne
East Washington St., Madison
October, 1971

N. 76th St. at Brown Deer Road
August, 1972
176,000 s.f.
Tasty Town

Coming in Due Course.


  1. Forum restaurant was only at the downtown store. Habitat (housewares) was actually in the south area of the first floor where the deli wasw once located.

  2. I have very fond memories of the Gimbels store at Hilldale in Madison. Many Christmas gifts under the tree were always from Gimbels. I would often go with my mother or grandmother. No trip would have been complete without stopping at the candy counter for a treat on the way to the car. Such great memories. Gibles was like a part of the family.

  3. Hello,
    I have an old oil painting that I was told, came from Gimbels. I was also told Gimbels had a father and daughter who painted oils for Gimbels many years ago ..maybe in the 40's?? The oil painting is very small of some pine trees and other greenery. It's framed in a heavy thick edged wood. Do you know how I could find out more about the history and worth of this painting? I've searched all the basic sites but haven't found anything. Help if you can. Thank you, Renee

    1. I would try the library on 8th and Wisconsin Ave or go to an Antique shop

  4. Forum Restaurant was also at the Appleton Store.

  5. I stayed at a Residence Inn in downtown Milwaukee and was told it was the old Gimbels store. It was across the street from the Grand Avenue Shopping Center. On the first floor of the hotel they had pictures of the building "back in the day", which I thought was a nice way to honor the building's past. I'd stay there again next time I'm in Milwaukee - it was very nice.

  6. My mother and Great Uncle worked at Gimbles downtown. Mom worked there during WWII in Hosiery and Uncle Louie worked there his whole adult life in the deli. When we'd visit from California in the 60's and 70's, we'd go to Tasty Town for skyscraper sundaes and ride the glass-door elevators, which still had operators. The basement had great bargains on last-season Saks Fifth Avenue clothes (owned by Gimbels). I believe the Third Street store closed in 1970 (there's still a sign above the side door that says GIMBELS)

  7. Thank you very much for this. Could you please tell me if you have a citation for this?

  8. Christopher:

    The information is taken from my own memorabilia and from Milwaukee Newspapers.


  9. Dear Renee: The Milwaukee County Historical Society received all of the historical artifacts and papers from Gimbels when the stores closed in Milwaukee. They may be able to help you find the providence of your painting. Good luck.

  10. Very interesting site. My mother worked at the Gimbels-Schuster Milwaukee store on 3rd street during the early 60's, as a comptometer operator. She transferred to the Wisconsin Avenue store shortly thereafter. I would take a bus downtown and meet her at the escalator back by the deli section. We would go see a movie across the street at the Riverside Theater. I remember thinking how huge the store was. Because she received an employee discount, all my clothes were purchased at Gimbels. I also purchased all my Beatles albums in the record section. I have a lot of memories of this store...truly one of Milwaukee's classiest department stores.

  11. Gimbels was a family tradition. Me, my mother and grandmother shoped the days after Thanksgiving called "Holly Days". At Easter we always had a lamb cake from the bakery. I have spent years trying to duplicate their recipe. Could anyone help me to get Gimbels recipe for lamb cake?

    Thanks! Devoted Fan

  12. I have so many fond memories of Gimbels/Capitol Court. I also worked at Gimbels/Northridge in the 70's. What great memories! Does anyone have a recipe for "Liptour(sp?) Dip sold in Deli? It was scrumputous!

  13. There was also a Gimbels store at Southgate. I got my ears pierced there in the late '70's.

  14. So many of my early days was spent in the main Wisconsin Ave. store. I still dream about the layout. It would seem everything from china to toilet paper was delivered to us on the east side. Thank you for this wonderfulpage.
    Tom Malia in Baltimore

  15. this brings back such fond memories. i wish Gimbles was around for my kids to enjoy. i tell them all the time about the sausage samples on tiny pretzels, that Gimbles used to hand out... the very best i tell you. it was a real treat for me to go with my grandmother and get "good shoes" or christmas shopping done. i can remember how warm all the department store lights were, during the holidays.

  16. I worked at Gimbels Southridge from 1978 until the store closed in 1987 and then for Marshall Fields for only a short time. It just wasn't the same. I loved Gimbels. I knew my Gimbels charge card number by memory and used to shop during my lunch hours. The employees were such a family. Miss Gimbels......

  17. I worked at Gimbels-Hilldale in Madison during the late 60s. Working in linens, I got to spend time on the phone with our sister stores in Milwaukee getting items transferred back and forth for customers. I enjoyed that job so much! Going into a department store and being personally waited on by department staff is an experience that young people today don't know very well. And it was very much like working at "Grace brothers" in "Are You being Served"! We sure had lovely characters working there!

  18. my mother would bring me to gimbels' on wis, ave in milwaukee. what a store' i think about crossing every inch of it from age 5 to 29. in 1970 my first trip to new york' winter i had to buy a coat' where else would i shop but gimbels. i still miss it. carmel ca.

  19. Does anyone remember the xmas window decoration at the Wisconsin Ave. store of Hansel and Gretel
    --it was mechanical with Hansel pushing the witch into the oven--around 1970. I wish I could see that again.

    1. Yes I sure do. Loved to go downtown to see the windows at Christmas. Was just there this month. I live in California and still love downtown and those old memories.

  20. This is all fantastic!!! it has brought back to good good memories I can even smell the good smell in the gimbles department stores my first Barbie for x mass and many many other things I worked at mayfair for the xmass seasons as part time from 1973 to 1977 I was a fyer that ment that you worked where ever you were needed so I worked in almost every department. besides my daddy worked for gimbels from 1955 to 1983 He was a taylor his name was Andy he worked downtown mayfair southgate southridge greenbay capitol drive I can't remember the mame of that one and in summer sometimes in madison so if there is someone out there that remembers Andy the taylor please reply it would make me feel good to know that he comes back into someones memories THamk you

  21. I'm sorry I wrote that wrong I meant tailor but it's late at nite where I am so I'm ready for bed he was Andy the tailor and I worked as a flyer sorry bye bye again

  22. I was fortunate to have visited and shopped all of the Gimbels Midwest locations except for Packard Plaza and Appleton.

    Like other posts, I can easily say that nobody ever beat Gimbels in my heart and wallet. The Wisconsin Ave deli was super fantastic, especially the German potato salad. I loved shopping for Christmas gifts at Gimbels. And the Hilldale store was fun to shop as well. Getting out of the Madison cold or the summer heat, Gimbels was a classy refuge and a fantastic place to enjoy the pleasures of department store shopping without going into debt. Closest thing today is Kohls, but it isn't the same.

  23. I have some small plates,Haviland & Co Limoges for Gimbel Bros Milwaukee. Trying to find some sort of value for them..

  24. so no body out there remembers Andy the tailor at gimbles mens department he worked downtown ,mayfair, southgate .southridge almost in all the gimbels in milwaukee and in summer sometimes in Madison if anyone remembers him please reply thank you his daughter

  25. Just went to an estate sale and found a great sewing box, still has the price tag fro Gimbels. Pretty neat! Born in 1982 I had no idea what Gimbels was until I found this site. Thank you for the info. Pretty cool find :-)

  26. Great history site for Gimbels. In the 1970s, my father worked across the river at what was then the Marine Bank building. I have fond memories of taking the bus downtown with my mother from White Fish Bay to have lunch with him at the restaurant at the top. It was a great place and I couldn't appreciate at the time what a historic building and store it was.

  27. Hey !!! I guess there is no one out there that remembers Andy the tailor not even someone that worked with him maybe much younger it would make me feel good all the italian tailors I'm sure could have passed away cause they were all older than daddy so daddy would now be 90 years old the only one that could be living is mollica I remember hope someone remembers my sicilian pop

  28. I remembered the store at southridge. When my parents, my three siblings and I first moved to Franklin, near greendale in 1978 from Montana. My mom loved shopping there. I was 11 when the store was closed. I remembered the store. My mom bought me a toy, My Little Pony there.

  29. Michael Nicotera18 June, 2013 09:43

    I started at Gimbels in 1975 fresh out of Marquette University as a trainee. I let in 1986 as a DMM. Every time I'm in Milwaukee I get a warm feeling at the corner of Plankinton and Wisconsin Avenue. My office was on the fifth floor. What a great store and great people to grow up in the business with. I still miss it every day. Mike Nicotera

  30. Growing up in Philadelphia all my life, Gimbel's was a mainstay on Market Street, I remember when I was twelve, they closed the old store, and the new Gimbel's opened inside the new Gallery Mall across the street. It wasn't the same, I remember the old wooden escalators and how a kid could get lost running around inside! I remember my parents taking me on the Subway, we would go right off the train, and see the Subway level store windows under 8th and Market. The Windows were ablaze with Christmas lights, you ventured up towards the street and You were in a massive jam of spectators, to an 8 year old kid, it looked very confusing. My father Never dealt with other areas along the parade route, he went right to 9th & Market! And we Always arrived in time to see Santa pull up in his red fire truck, the massive ladder would ascend up to a window on the 8th floor, Santa would climb the ladder, look out over the thousands below, wave and climb in the store. That neant Christmas to me.

  31. Worked at Gimbels Hilldale in the late '70's. Minimum wage and garbage hours that I had no control over. Next time you're doing an evening or weekend shop anywhere, spare a thought for the "Slave Caste" that is there to serve you!

  32. One thing that is missing in the listing for the first floor of the downtown Gimbals is the Stamp Department. I went there with my dad every time we went to Gimblas

  33. My great grandmother, grandmother and her son my uncle all worked for Gimbels starting in 1884. I have a beautiful news article about my great-grandmother's working life there as published by Gimbels in the 1940s. Later, I worked on 12th and Vliet at the old Gimbels, but by that time it was the Welfare Department. My mother also worked there and she had many memories of shopping there when it was Gimbels.

  34. Does anybody know if there was a Gimbels in Lena, WI, or is my memory of 40 years ago faulty?


  35. I met my wife Heidi at Gimbels downtown. She was the manager of the drapery department, and I was the travelling salesman for Decorator Industries. I proposed to her at a little bar next door to Gimbels called Sol's Place where many of the Gimbels employees went to socialize after work. Sol and his wife were great people, and broke out the champagne for all the Gimbels employees who were there. The year was 1979, and Heidi and I have been happily married for 34 years! Thanks for the memories. Tom

  36. Does anyone remember if the Gimbels Store in Milwaukee had a monorail - train ride suspended from the ceiling that kids could ride at Christmas time? This would have been back in the 1940's.

  37. You'd be thinking of the monorail that hung from the ceiling of the 7th floor Toy Dept. at the Boston Store. If interested in more details on that, contact Historic Milwaukee, Inc. and ask for Gary.

  38. My Mom passed away last year at age 96, but I have fond memories of eating at Tasty Town Restaurant, my favorite were the kid size hot dogs on a toasted bun!

  39. Gimbels and Schuster's merged in 1962 and became Gimbels-Schusters until the latter name was dropped in 1969.

  40. Does anyone know what happened to all the old photograph negatives from the Studio of Schusters, Inc. on 12th & Vliet Street in Milwaukee, WI from about 1950 - 1960? I am hoping to find some of my self & siblings taken there. I actually have some numbers at the bottom of an old photograph. Thanks much for any helpful information.

  41. I remember as a young child going to Gimbels Mayfair and learning how to knit from Mrs. McCloud. You bought the yarn and the lessons were free. This was on the second floor. Loved it. I'm still knitting to this day because of the instruction from this fine lady.

  42. In the basement of Gimbels downtown Milwaukee were the bargains. I often shopped there.

  43. Esther Netz, it was Hawkins when I shopped at Gimbels08 September, 2015 23:10

    Gimbels downtown Milwaukee was my favorite store. I use to buy capezios, chesterfiled coats, Jonathon Logan dresses, and the resturant was so fabulous, the whole store was amazing, such class it had, and the best of the best. I miss it so. Those were the good old days. Esther Netz

  44. I remember Schusters as an infant and very young child. I was born in 51, so that was the early 50's. My parents lived around the 3rd st. store as well as the Vliet One of my earliest memories is going to Schusters. I was real fascinated with the store and all the sights and sounds. There was a chime/bell sound that sounded quite often, and to this day, I still dont know what it was for. I liked going on the escalator, and found the charge card machine interesting, which punched holes in cards. Most of the time I went there with my mother, and she went clothing shopping. For a young male child, that was boring, and I would drive my mother crazy with crying and wanting to go to the toy dept. But almost until the day she died, my mother told me about the terrible thing I did there. She was looking at sewing items, and I saw a display with many bobbins in every color. The display rotated, so I spun it as fast as it would turn, and bobbins flew all over the store. I never lived that down.

    At some point in time, when I was maybe around 4 or 5, my uncle Joe got a job at the Schusters auto repair garage. I think it was the 3rd St store, but could have been Vliet (I was very young and mixed up the two stores). But I recall going there to see my uncle and vividly remember him showing me how to fix a tire and he let me play with some tools. I was in my glory! I also recall meeting him there for the Christmas parade, and I saw Billie the Brownie, and my dad bought me a pin on Santa that had a flashing red light that I had to pull a string to turn it on. I vividly remember that, and uncle Joe left the service garage and watched the parade with myself and my parents. That was really fun!

    The other things I remember are mom and dad pasting stamps into their Schusters savings stamp books, at home as well as S&H green stamps, and that always seemed like a big deal to someone my age.

    As far as Gimbels, what I remember the most are the elaborate Christmas displays in the downtown store, and recall going to the Gimbels at Mayfair even more than downtown, because my parents moved to that part of town when I was a little older.

    It's funny, because in my senior years, it's those times at Schusters I remember the most as an infant and very young child, followed by memories of the State Fair in West Allis.

  45. I have many fond memories from Gimbels back in the 60s. My mom and I would take the bus to Mayfair. You could catch the 21 bus on North Ave or the 31 on Ludington in Tosa. We always went to TastyTown for a chocolate malt or sundae. Great toy department. They even had a Girl Scout Department where you could get your Brownie and Girl Scout stuff. I loved the Notions Department. I worked there for the Christmas season when I was about 17. I also worked at the restaurant on the top floor of Gimbels downtown as a waitress. I only lasted one day. I was 18 and all the other waitresses were about 60 so I didn't really fit in. Now I'm almost 60!! Great memories

  46. I began my visual merchandising career at Gimbels. What an amazing, classy store it was. My grandmother Kathy Strong was the head baker in the Forum restaurant and created the Wisconsin Cheese Torte recipe. My visual merchandising friends and I would occasionally take our break in the Forum and have either grandma's torte or the Schaum Torte. Morning break it was "Tasy Town" and my favorite treat there was one of their "Hearts of Gold." I particularly remember an event we set up when I worked there called Those Fabulous Flicks! One of the major Movie Studios lent us all of this wonderful memorabilia including a coach from Cinderella. The visual merchandising shop was on the 7th floor right next to the paint studio and carpenter shop. Yes, Gimbels had it all. I remember in 1976 or 77 going out on a section of the roof to watch a big fire across the river. I can't remember what building was on fire but nevertheless it was fun going out on the roof. The most fun was when we worked after hours to set up Christmas on the main floor and one of my VM supervisors cruised around on roller skates and we were allowed to help ourselves to the candy at the giant candy counter, everything you could imagine. I have such amazing and fond memories of Gimbels and downtown Milwaukee.

  47. Hello, are there any Photos of the Subway level Entrances and or Picture Windows for Strawbridge & Clothier, Gimbel's, Lit Brother's or John Wanamaker's in Philadelphia? I remember using the Wanamaker's Subway Entrance at 13th Street. I recall the Subway level Entrance being closed off in the late 80's, when Woodward Lathrop took over the Store.

  48. I worked as the Training Department secretary on the 8th floor of the downtown store in the mid-70's and fondly remember eating a quick lunch during my morning break then spending my lunch hour shopping! :) I came home with packages almost every day! I also remember the day I was dressed in a elaborate kangaroo costume with enormous tail and head and escorted by one of the training supervisors through the store to promote the annual credit card sign-up contest to the other store employees. As a child, I remember my parents driving me and my brothers downtown to see the beautifully decorated store windows at Christmas time. They had huge, elaborate displays with animated figures in each of the street-level display windows. And the toy department floor was amazing, with an actual monorail that kids could ride running OVER and around the toy department! And of course, who could forget "Billie the Brownie"! Very fond memories of Gimbels!

  49. I was on their College Board for two years in 1954-55 and remember fondly putting on fashion shows for gals going off to college. From 56-57 I worked on the flying squad and had great experiences in every department. That's how I spent my summers and why I majored in retailing in college.