M. Goldwater & Sons, Phoenix, Arizona

After operating in several smaller locations, Goldwaters
took space in the so-called Noble Building in 1910.
After getting an earlier start in Prescott, Arizona,
Goldwaters settled into the same building as
Phoenix' renowned Dorris-Heyman furniture co.
"The Best, Always"

M. Goldwater & Sons
31 North First Street
Phoenix, Arizona

CRestwood 7-5511

Gift Shop • Collector's Gallery • Degrazia Shop • Bedding • Closet Shop • Bath Shop  Draperies • Luggage • China • Gourmet Shop

Street Floor
Jewelry • Costume Jewelry • Indian Jewelry • Silver  Hosiery • Boudoir Slippers • Toiletries • Perfumes •
Fashion Accessories • Belts • Gloves • Handbags • Small Leather Goods • Scarfs • Hat Bar • Shoe Salon • Notions • Stationery • Games • Candy • Linens • Shop for Men

Children's Shop • Young Phoenician Shop • Hi Shop • Children's Toys • Antoine Salon • American Salon • Offices

Second Floor
Lingerie • Robes • Silhouette Shop • Uniforms • Desert Fashion Shop • Desert Sport Shop • Better Dresses • Custom Salon • Casual Shop • Coat Shop • Suit Shop • Urban Shop • Miss Phoenix Shop • Young Perfectionist Shop • Young Arizona Shop • Gold Room • Millinery Salon • Fur Salon • Bridal Salon
(40,000 s.f.)

Street Floor
Jewelry • Costume Jewelry • Indian Jewelry • Silver • Hosiery • Boudoir Slippers • Toiletries • Perfumes • Fashion Accessories • Belts • Gloves • Handbags • Small Leather Goods • Scarfs • Hat Bar • Shoe Salon • Notions • Lingerie • Robes • Silhouette Shop • Stationery • Games • Candy • Gift Shop • Collector's Gallery • Degrazia Shop • Linens • Bedding • Closet Shop • Bath Shop • Draperies • Luggage • China • Home Furnishings • Gourmet Shop
11 Park Central Mall Men's World • New Directions

Second Floor
Misses' Sportswear • Misses' Dresses • Women's Dresses • Better Dresses • Casual Shop • Coats Plus • Urban Shop • Miss Phoenix Shop • Clubhouse Sportswear • Contempora Sportswear • Now Shop • Gold Circle • Designer Room  Young Perfectionist Shop • Young Arizona Shop • Millinery Salon • Fur Salon • Bridal Salon • Children's Shop • Young Phoenician Shop • Hi Shop • Children's Toys • Antoine Salon • American Salon • Offices

Cortez and Union Streets
September 18, 1937
20,000 s.f.
Park Central
W. Osborn Rd. at N. 2nd Ave.
November 8, 1956
117,000 s.f.
Fashion Square
Scottsdale Road at Camelback
October 9,1961
100,000 s.f.
Black Canyon Fwy. at North Peoria Ave.
October 21, 1973
106,000 s.f.
Coronado Center
Albuquerque, NM
February 16, 1976
113,000 sq. ft.
El Con Center

3595 E. Broadway
August 14, 1978

115,000 sq. ft.
Fiesta Mall
Alma School Road at Southern
13 August 1979
115,000 sq. ft.

If the story of Goldwaters sounds like the script of a western movie, it well should, for the founders of the store were true pioneers who braved the rigors of the developing American west to not just found a department store, but a civic and political dynasty as well.  That they were Jewish immigrants from the hostile environment of Russian-dominated Poland, seeking fortune in the American west, subject to Indian attacks, outlaw massacres and the rigors of operating out of tents and adobe huts, makes the story remarkable indeed.

Michael Goldwasser was born in Konin, Poland in 1821, but left for Paris in 1837 to avoid conscription in the Russian Army.  He trained as a tailor in Paris, but left there in 1848, a year of upheaval across Europe.  In London, he was able to work as a tailor and met his wife Sarah Nathan. They were married in 1850.  Michael left with his younger brother Joseph (1833-1883) in 1852 for San Francisco via New York and the isthmus of Panama. Shortly thereafter, Sarah and their children joined them in America.

On arrival in San Francisco, Michael sought a business opportunity in operating a saloon below a house of ill repute in Sonora, California, an effort that ended in failure. In spite of a move to Los Angeles, and Sarah's continued work as a tailor, debts from the Sonora business forced the couple to declare bankruptcy.  Furthermore, it was clear that Sarah did not like the rough-and-tumble life they had led since their arrival in California.  Accordingly, the couple moved to San Francisco to settle into a permanent homestead for the Goldwater family.

Yet, Michael continued his adventures to the east.  Hearing of the gold strike in now-deserted La Paz, Arizona territory, in 1860 he packed wagons full of goods to sell to the newly-rich miners, first in Gila City, then in La Paz itself.  A store was established in Ehreberg, on the California border, a now-deserted location on the Colorado River that facilitated the shipment of merchandise by steamboat, and allowed Goldwater to engage in business supplying army posts in the Arizona Territory.

The Ehrenberg years were tumultuous to say the least, but the business grew in spite of hardships. With Dr. W.W. Jones, Michael Goldwater helped lay out the wagon road between Ehrenberg and Prescott, Arizona.  It was on this road that his brother Joe was seriously injured in an Indian ambush.  He wore the bullet that was retrieved from his body on a watch fob for many years. Robberies were common and Michael Goldwater was once held at gunpoint by bandits until he opened his safe for them.  Ehrenberg's days were numbered, though, by the time the Southern Pacific Railroad was completed, making river travel obsolete.

Goldwater focused on the young settlement of Phoenix, where he and his sons opened a store in 1872. When he did not find success there, a successor was opened to the north at Prescott in 1876.  Far from the adobe huts that served as Goldwaters' early stores, the Prescott location was considered the finest in the Arizona territory and supplied residents of the town with goods equal to anything they might find in San Francisco.  Michael Goldwater briefly served as mayor of Prescott, and was instrumental in the founding of a fire brigade after a blaze that damaged the Goldwater store.

Joseph Goldwater moved to Bisbee, Arizona in 1880, where the Goldwater & Castaneda store in that town was the site of the famous Bisbee Massacre in 1884. A gang led by John Heath robbed the store, which served as the de facto bank of the town, and killed 5 bystanders (including the sheriff and a pregnant woman) in the process. They were captured and sentenced to hang, but not before an outraged posse took Heath from the jail and lynched him.  The others were hanged by the law and are buried in the town's famous Boot Hill cemetery. 

At one time or another, there were Goldwaters stores in  La Paz, Ehrenberg, Prescott, Parker, Seymour, Lynx Creek, Phoenix, Bisbee, Fairbank, Contention, Tombstone, Benson and Critenden.  Many of these locations remain only in memory, as ghost towns.

By 1885, Michael Goldwater returned to San Francisco, where his wife had maintained the family home, uninterested in the Arizona business.  Well before his death in 1903, Michael left all aspects of the Goldwater enterprise in Arizona to his sons Morris (1852-1939), Baron (1866-1929), and later, Henry (1858-1931).  It was Morris that solidified the family's status as a political dynasty as well as a mercantile one.  In addition to serving as mayor in Prescott over a long term, he was instrumental in gaining statehood for Arizona in 1921.  His brother Baron wanted to remove the store to the larger and more promising town of Phoenix in 1896, against Morris' better  judgement.  As the story goes, a "game of casino" was won by Baron and that settled the matter on the spot.

The store duly opened in the same year, and outgrew its quarters by 1910, when Goldwaters took space in the newly-constructed Noble Building on First Street.  Here the store occupied two floors, a mezzanine, and a basement, of half of the building, the balance of which was occupied by the well-respected Dorris-Heymann furniture company.  In 1937, Goldwaters returned to Prescott (the older store had closed in 1926) with a modern new retail establishment in the center of town.

When Baron retired, his son Barry Goldwater (1909-1998) ran the store, but when he became an Arizona Senator in 1952, served as Goldwaters chairman of the board.  Barry's brother Robert assumed control of the business as president.

It was, though at the Phoenix location that Goldwaters offered Phoenicians "The Best Always" for many years, surviving two world wars and the depression.  Postwar prosperity came to Phoenix after the conflict, and the city grew and prospered far beyond its pioneer beginnings.  Branch development after the war began with a resort shop in the Arizona Biltmore hotel and a freestanding store in Scottsdale, that was so popular, it had to be enlarged by 1952.

Because ofthe city's outwardgrowth, downtown Phoenix suffered decline by the 1960s, and the construction of the Park Central shopping center so close to the center of the city hastened the fall of Phoenix' traditional retail core. Goldwaters store in Park Central opened toward the the end of 1956.  At 80,000 square feet in size, the Park Central store was twice the size of the downtown headquarters, and by the time it was almost doubled in size, the store, which displayed Barry Goldwater's prize collection of authentic Kachina Dolls, became the headquarters and the small, outmoded downtown store was shuttered by 1960.

Goldwaters later development included a large new branch in Scottsdale, and later in Mesa and Tucson, and as far away as Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 1962, Goldwaters was purchased by Associated Dry Goods, and eventually the Goldwater name reached as far as Las Vegas.

As the department store industry faced decline and outside competition in the 1980s and 1990s, Associated Dry Goods was purchased by the May Company. Three years later, the Goldwaters name was retired in favor of the owner company's clumsy "Robinsons-May" brand and the saga of this great Arizona mercantile institution came to an end.


  1. Additional stores were at Paradise Valley Mall in 1980, and Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas in 1981. Was there also a Goldwaters at Tucson's Foothills Mall? If so, what year did it open?

  2. How long was the Prescott store in operation?

  3. I am looking for Indian Cowboy Poster that advertised the opening of the PV store. Have you seen one or know where I could find one?

  4. doug foscarini08 May, 2012 23:07

    Goldwters also had a store in Las Vegas but only remained open for a few years until they were bought out by May Co..

  5. I just discovered through newspaperarchive.com in the Arizona Republic, that the Park Central store opened on November 8, 1956.

  6. loved the gold fixtures in the store!

  7. There was a store in the Foothills Mall that opened in 1982. I was there on opening day working in the dress department!

  8. I have a big newspaper ad for Goldwaters white sale about 1961. My son and another boy appeared in it

  9. I didn't think Tucson's Foothills Mall opened until 1983 or 1984 after Tucson Mall opened.

  10. My Mother worked at Goldwater's in the 1950's and one wonderful memory I have is that of going to picnics at the "Goldwater's Farm" in South Phoenix. There were huge shade trees on green lawns, an older house, and a large swimming pool. Does anyone know exactly where that was, and the history? I believe it was somewhere on Southern Ave.

  11. My Dad worked for Goldwaters for 30 years. He started as a box boy and left as VP of Operations.
    He helped open the stores in Mesa, Tucson, New mexico and Las Vegas. He Mentored many people who are now Vps and Presidents of other businesses through out the country. He Mainly worked out of Park central in the early days then transferred to Fashion square. He still helps friends with businesses. At 71 years old he is very shrewd and can make anyones business succeed. I think he has old posters of Goldwaters .

    1. Who was your dad? He probably knew mine - was vp/GMM 1976-1982

  12. Thanks for your memories - your dad must be an extraordinary gentleman! - Bruce

  13. Earlier I stated My Dad worked for Goldwaters for 30 years. He helped transition with the Robinsons and May company take over. I also Mentioned that many of the people he Mentored were vps and presidents. The companies include Saks fifth, Harbor freight, Dicks sporting goods, and Morgan Stanley in which I found out that particular person survived the 9/11 attack.

  14. Too funny I was Visual at all 5 of the AZ stores, Diamonds, Goldwaters, Broadway, Levys and Steinfelds.

  15. I have a Goldwaters EMBA American Mink coat. Did Goldwaters work closely with EMBA? Is there anything significant to know about this coat? I don't know how old it is.

  16. The Fiesta and Paradise Valley stores (which both became Macy's) show very similar features...lots of mirrors, glass, and chrome, and wood paneling everywhere. The Macy's/former Goldwater's at Fiesta closed at the end of March of this year (2014). I worked there for almost 4 years, and there were still bits and pieces of the previous incarnations. Lots of flamed maple and dark walnut veneer everywhere, multiple fitting room areas that were later turned into storage/stock space, and there were still items marked with "Goldwater's" throughout the back areas. The freight elevator still had the original stamp stating the place of delivery/installation as "Goldwater's Department Store, Southwest Corner Alma School Road and Southern Avenue, Mesa Arizona." We uncovered a lot of history going through the building, and heard a lot of stories...one associate had worked in the building from the year it opened, 1979, until its closure. The building is still standing, and the Macy's signage is still in place, for the time being. A coworker of mine was lucky enough to discover an aerial shot of Fiesta in its infancy...the mall is a shadow of what it once was, and it will be interesting to see what materializes with the mall, which has recently come under new management by an real estate investment firm.

    1. My father installed most of that glass, and the mirrors. He won a National design award for his mirror work on the PV escalator. Hoyt Pinair was one of his best friends...... he did all the new stores and remodels late 70's- close. I got some of the Albuquerque jewelry cases when that store was remodeled for my store.... good memories!

  17. Regarding EMBA and fur sales at Goldwaters: since at least 1982, the fur department at Goldwater's was actually run by Robert Schechner Furs. I was a stock boy there and could easily help you identify your mink coat. Just email me at simplyspotless@cox.net and I'll let you know what pictures I need to help you with that.

    Incidentally, it was common practice for department stores to have certain operations actually owned and administered by other companies who actually specialized in whatever particular products the sold. Very often departments such as jewelry, furs and even shoes operated in that manner.

  18. Before the beautiful Fashion Square store was built, Goldwater's had a small boutique type store in a small shopping center just off Scottsdale Road south of Fashion Square. Goldwater's was always a very special store with a real family run feeling to it. I still miss it very much.

  19. "I am looking for Indian Cowboy Poster that advertised the opening of the PV store. Have you seen one or know where I could find one? "

    I just recently got one of these from someone who had worked at the PV Store. The poster, by Fritz Scholder, has the absolutely iconic silhouette of Barry Goldwater on horseback. Gorgeous.


  20. Was the 30 year vp Mr. Mon_ _ _ _?

  21. Does anyone know during what time period Goldwaters used the logo with the cactus?

  22. My father, now 87, was the manager of what I believe to be a Goldwater's outlet store in downtown Scottsdale called "Penny Pincher". The store opened in the Fall of 1961. He went on to manage the Goldwaters store at Fashion Square, then Rhodes Department Store in Phoenix and, later, Goldring's women's ready to wear operating inside of Hanny's stores through the Valley. I recall unpacking cartons, tagging, and bagging garments at the downtown Phoenix store for my Dad in the 1970's.

  23. I have a wonderful, framed poster of "Sunset Cowboy" by Fritz Scholder, commissioned by Goldwater's
    It says "New Horizons" Paradise Valley Mall, August 1980

    I hate to just give to a thrift shop here in Texas if someone is interested...
    Since it's in a frame, it's in perfect condition - no fading as it's been at the back of a closet. I worked for a catalog agency in Culver City in the late 80s and I think it was theirs. Happy to roll into a mailing tube for a Goldwater fan. If this site wants a photo, I can do that, too.

  24. Thank you for the generous offer! Sadly, I don't have the facilities to store an artifact like that. You may want to donate it to a local or Arizona history museum. At the least, perhaps publishing your offer here will interest a collector who would like to have the poster.
    - Bruce

  25. Worked at Tucson's Foothills Mall location from about 1983 to 87. Worked in housewares and linens with Dorothy as manager. Also became the best of friends with Cathy Spagle. Art was manager at the dock. Bill was Ops Manager. -Dan Hodgson

  26. Dan, I opened the Tucson Foothill's Mall location, setting up fixtures, unpacking merchandise and cleaning construction debris. I worked in a few departments, sometimes as a floater in various departments, but truly my first assignment was in Cosmetics, then over to Misses' Sportswear and ended in Fine Jewelry until the end of my tenure there, which was longer than the name of Goldwater's was on the building. I still miss the beauty of the original store, the quality of merchandise and the wonderful people with whom I worked over the 10 years. At times I also covered the El Con Mall Fine Jewelry counters, but Foothill's was always home. I still have my yellow and green name badges, my clear purse and of course my first ever credit card, which was the beautiful Goldwater's golden yellow!

  27. Does anyone know where I might find Goldwater's Christmas catalogs from the early 70s?

  28. While a student at the U of A in Tucson, I worked at both the El Con (jewelry department) and Foothills (dress department) Goldwater’s stores. Just today, I came across a stash of the Whirlwind Flintridge china branded Goldwater’s. I know very little about the pattern, other than it was designed by Lillian Wilhelm Smith (cousin of Zane Grey) perhaps while she was artist-in-residence at the Arizona Biltmore. Is there anyone out there who has a memory of this Hopi-inspired pattern? Perhaps a sales associate from the china department?

  29. While a student at the U of A in Tucson, I worked at both the El Con (jewelry department) and Foothills (dress department) Goldwater’s stores. Just today, I came across a stash of the Whirlwind Flintridge china branded Goldwater’s. I know very little about the pattern, other than it was designed by Lillian Wilhelm Smith (cousin of Zane Grey) perhaps while she was artist-in-residence at the Arizona Biltmore. Is there anyone out there who has a memory of this Hopi-inspired pattern? Perhaps a sales associate from the china department?

  30. Hello all,

    Myou father was Sr VP/GMM of Goldwaters from 1976-1982. Stan Schwarz. Have some of the old posters hanging in my house. Wonderful memories...

    1. Your dad probably knew my dad. Those were the days of Hoyt Pinair, Clarence in store planning, etc. spent time before store openings inside with dad. Great bunch of people.

  31. In 1943 I saved enough money to purchase a dress in Goldwater's in Phoenix. It was brown with big white dots, loved that dress. I am
    now 90 years old but have fond memories of the Goldwater's Dept. Store.

    1. And a very healthy memory indeed!
      - Bruce

  32. I have a gold wool mod go go style cape poncho the tag reads Goldwater's Fashion Shop Arizona the tag signature of Goldwater looks the same as the department store ..I wonder is it from the Goldwater Family?

  33. I have a WOMEN'S wool cape definitely from the 1960"s that has a tag that says GOLDWATER'S FASHION STORE ARIZONA...Is it from THE GOLDWATER'S SENATOR BARRY'S DEPARTMENT STORE ?

  34. I had the pleasure of working for the Goldwater's Phoenix Store in the Fur Department for a few years in the 80's. Good memories until May Company bought them out.

  35. Did Goldwater's have an oultet at the old Desert Inn in Las Vegas? I received a vintage (plaid) cashmere jacket as a gift from a relative, and the tag sewn inside the lining says "Lebow Chothes - softailored perfection" and "R. Goldwater's, Desert Inn Las Vegas Nevada".

    Its pretty cool, despite being plaid; 100% cashmere; mint condition. Looks like something from the late 50's or early/mid 60's, but the original owner isn't around to answer quetions about it any more.

    Just curious about its origins!


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