The Peoples Store, Tacoma, Washington

The Peoples Store
1101-7 Pacific Avenue
Tacoma, Washington

Full exhibit coming in due course


  1. I'm glad to see Peoples listed in your museum. When the Tacoma Mall opened in the mid 1960s it took a huge hit on downtown Tacoma retail. Peoples did not last long after most shopping was now located at the mall. For whatever reason, Peoples remained downtown and that was not a good choice for them. Downtown Tacoma has, and is, experiencing a comeback in many ways, but not for shopping.

  2. My Dad worked at the Peoples Store in the Shoe Department from 1966-1969. I loved going there when I was a kid. I have fond memories of the Christmas displays in the outside windows. Those were the good ole days

  3. Does anyone else remember the children's shoe department where people could examine the fit of children's shoe through an X-ray machine?

  4. I loved people store.. My mother worked there from the late 50's to close in 1984... I spent many weekends and Holidays there... Christmas was always my favorite, watching the parade from the office window, She was a elevator attendant (if that's what they are called) for 3 floors,LOL, Sill makes me laugh,,, Then she moved to the office and became a PBX operator.. She worked for Mr. Fitpole.. I heard lots of stories.. Her name was Marie Britson... I sure miss the store and the whole Downtown experience.. I sure miss her... Lisa Middlebrook

  5. I had the pleasure of working as a buyer a couple of times in the old downtown building from 1978 - 1982. I remember Marie. She was hilarious. The building itself was special. There were offices and other spaces that looked as if they were frozen in time. Bill Fitpole's office was a great example; heavy on 60's decor. Worked with his grandson down in Lacey. An era sadly gone.

    1. Johnny "Moonlight Madness" Miller! Great guy to work with at Peoples Store!! Work hard, play hard! We had a lot of fun! Lynn Q

  6. Thank you so very much for this wonderful website. I grew up in Tacoma, Washington, attended Stadium High school and waited for my bus transfer across the street from People's Department Store. After being inspired by "My Fair Lady" in 1966, at the age of 16, I saw an offer of a modeling course for teenage girls at People's Department Store. The course cost $5.00 which was a good chunk of change in 1966, but a very fair price for the course. I knew that I would never be a model, but this was a kind of modified finishing school that taught us etiquette, how to walk, how to dress properly (in those days, modesty was still considered a virtue by our culture), how to wear make-up, again, modestly, and several other social skills that I have remembered through the years. I was so grateful for this course that when I was married in 1972, I chose my wedding gown at People's; these were the days when wedding gowns had sleeves and they did not all look alike. I bought a beautiful gown at 60% off for $90.00 and I still have it. My bridesmaids chose their gowns at People's also. I am a convert to the Catholic Faith and received much of my formation at I am so grateful for my Catholic Faith and I am also grateful for the training I received at People's Department Store. The era may be gone, but as long as we are living we have the opportunity to share and instill our dignity as God's children with others who are open to learning, no matter what our age or background.

  7. Thank you, Joan for your lovely comments, and God bless you!

  8. Hi Anonymous,
    My Mom also worked at People's for many years and yes had lots to say about Mr, Fitpole.
    She started out in the South Tacoma store when it opened and later transferred downtown.I think she was the only one if receiving for a long time. Her name was Bert Hartman and she
    retired about the same time as your Mom. My Aunt worked at Peoples also. I went to St. Leo's
    so I could stop on my way home. I remember being downtown when the
    Alaska Quake hit. I was on a bus across the street in front of the pharmacy. That Department
    Store building really shuck and glass broke. I also remember employee discount night before
    Christmas. So many years many memories. Thanks Linda

    retired about the time your Mom did. Old

  9. Me and my friends Dave and Roy used to ride the bus from 34th and Roosevelt st. to downtown all the time, we were only 10 or 11 but no worries back then in the 60s. Man we had great times and remember all the stores down there, Peoples, Rhodes, The Bon,Woolworths, Sears Payless and the old grubby Hobbie Bike, that place was dusty, dirty and stuff piled up every where but we always found something we needed. We really didn't know how well we had it, Thanks for the memories--Mark

  10. I have 5 chairs that have the original store price tag from the People's Store in Tacoma, Washington. I am not sure what year they were sold because I purchased them from the Salvation Army Store. However, I will send a picture to anyone interested!

  11. What a treat to find this. I worked at Peoples Stores starting in 1976 until 1981 when I was transferred to the Mercantile Stores flagship group, The Jones Stores, in Kansas City. I am now retired but thinking back on my time of employment, The Peoples Stores hold the fondest memories for me. Mr. Fitpold was retired by the time I started with the company but he would make an appearance at the store from time to time so I did get to meet him. Saw that Marie was mentioned here. What a hoot she was. Too many years have passed to remember many of the names but there was Maxinne, Rhoda, Gussy down in cosmetics and Lorraine O’Brien, Chuck Traun, Smitty, Gloria, Marianne Short. Marianne is now a Senior VP with the Seattle Mariners so kudos to her. I may not remember many of the names but I will never forget what a treat it was working with them. I think what made Peoples Store special was a genuine fondness that the employees had for each other.
    And the frosting on the cake was the coffee shop/restaurant in the basement. Pies baked daily that were to die for. The coffee break regulars running from store employees, shoppers, FBI agents and judges from the courthouse, and a few individuals that at one time or another had spent time at Western State Hospital. I remember this one that would sit at the counter yakking it up talking to no one in particular. He had some mental problems but was harmless. I can’t remember where the idea came from but one year we chipped in and bought this guy a Christmas present which brought tears to his eyes. That’s the kind of people that worked at The Peoples Store.
    Pat Eliot

  12. I worked at Sears downtown Tacoma in the late 70s and remember shopping at Peoples and having lunch in their coffee shop. It was a great store. It was so sad to see the demise of shopping in downtown Tacoma. After Peoples closed Woolworths closed, then Sears moved to the Tacoma Mall. There wasn't anything much going on in downtown after that.

  13. Love all the stories.. I hope they keep coming

  14. Wonderful stories! Thanks for sharing! I owned a small clothing store (2008) dtown and longed for the old days!

  15. I've been going through some family history and find that my Grandfathers Uncle Michael started work at Peoples over 100 years ago!
    His obituary (dated September 22, 1940) reads
    "Michael Zehnder, 63, a resident of Tacoma for 50 years and a driver for the Peoples store for 26 years, died Saturday at his home 617 South 35th street.
    Mr. Zehnder began work for the Peoples store before the era of automobile trucks and in celebrating with the company his 25th anniversary with the company April 1, 1939, recalled some of his experiences in delivering merchandise by means of horse and wagon. He remembered how he used to climb the steep downtown hills on foot sometimes when the horses couldn't make it and he recalled also the first Christmas deliveries for the Peoples store when he completed his rounds at 2 am Christmas morning with every parcel left at the proper door."

    Peoples was such a longtime fixture in Tacoma that it still sometimes seems strange that it is gone!

  16. I remember being 4 years old and standing with my mom next to the road right next to Peoples in 1953 when newly elected President "Eke" drove though in a brief parade. When I was older my mom told me it was because the Presidents' brother lived there and Eke wanted to impress him. I thought it was great and still was a large turn out for Lakewood! I loved the large two story wall mural at Peoples and the
    Easter Egg hunt in the large field behind the building! Loved the theater. OMG...that old short silver hair man was like a grampa to me, he was so nice. We always ran down to get the front row seat, center section, left side. Enjoyed the dance lessons in the studio in the lower level, right side of the theater. Had my first egg salad sandwich sitting at the stool at the restaurant at the end of the building with the round glass. So pretty. Loved the look and feel of the Park Lodge Elementary School. Even the it looked old to me. GOSH. The blue lights on ALL the oak trees in town at Christmas was huge for me. Remember going into the jewelry store by the record store where you could go in a small room and actually listen to a record before you bought it. The grocery store (Safeway?) located at the end is where I got inspired by music. I saw an album of Moon River and begged mom to buy it. I still can't believe she did. I was 5. There was a classy restaurant to the left of the theater called the Brown Derby. I wanted to go in there so bad. Used to watch the patrons who were always all dressed up. Never got to go, it closed before I could. Still lingers. But not a bad thing. Left of that was a classy dental office upstairs. Did get to go there as an adult once so I could experience it. Further toward the Plaza was the Country Store. Very classy clothing store. Across the street was Brown's Shoes where you could view your toes for a proper fit through X-ray. Behind there was a bar called the Inferno where dad went without mom. Hmmm. The end of my parents marriage. Very very fond memories of Rhodes, a great store (and restrooms upstairs). Later, remember friends riding their horses from Gravelly Lake Drive area to the Colts and Fillies club ground located on Bridgeport Way every Saturday. Was SO envious. Hahaha. Much later...the Tiki Restaurant and McDonalds. Spent much time fishing off the bridge and swimming at Steilacoom Lake. Thank you for the posting about Peoples. Somehow that place was a pivotal beginning memory as a child. Probably because of the President.

  17. I remember going to the People's at the South Sound Mall in Lacey in the 70's. I saw a Swing Bike that was on the first floor by some changing rooms. I would look for that bike every time I went into the store. In fact, I remember getting lost when I went off on my own to go look for the bike. I was 3 or 4 at the time and recall having a good little kid freak-out until I found my mom. Also, hiding in the middle of the circular clothing racks pretending they were helicopters.
    I also remember how it smelled like the chemicals for doing hair perms.

  18. My grandma worked at this store. When we would come to visit we would stop by and say hi and we did lots of Christmas shopping here. I miss my grandma so much may she rest in peace. She died 19 years ago when she was 79.

  19. My Grandpa Jimmy (James Marzano) worked at Peoples store as the watch and jewelry repairman. I don’t remember the exact years but 60’s and 70’s.

  20. The biggest memory I have of People’s Store is the hosiery department. Hundreds of pink boxes of stockings. I watched my mother buy stockings when I was little in the 50’s and then, finally, I bought my first pair for me. Amazing what stands out in your memory.


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