The on-line museum of North America's independent department stores. The museum holds all sorts of information about classic department stores which either no longer exist, or are changed beyond recognition. A few of them are still with us, and provide an interesting connection to North America's retail past. The others are presented so that they may be properly remembered as a tangible part of the lives of their customers, shopping destinations where memories were often made.
Robertson's, South Bend, Indiana
Robertson Brothers 211 S. Michigan St. South Bend, Indiana
Robertson's anchored the downtown shopping experience in South Bend. A few blocks north was minor competition with Wyman's Dept Store and there was a large JC Penny across the street from Robertson's. Kresge's bordered the store on the north and first Grand Leader and then the Francis Shop to the south. The bright lights and marque of the State Theatre across the street added to the adventure. Other stores right close were Osco with a beauty school above it (I spent many hours waiting there for my mom and grandmother), The Star Store, Schiff Shoes, St Joe Valley Bank, The Sherland Building, lots of other shoe stores, WT Grants and Woolworth (wood floors, tin ceilings, and fans), Richman Brothers, Granada Theatre to the north, and the Planter's Peanut store with the peanut man. The crowds moving up and down the streets; noises of the heavy traffic and fumes from buses/trucks; the handicapped man in front of Kresge's on the sidewalk selling pencils; slush of the winter and heat of the summer; all in all it was a great exciting experience for us kids to be taken downtown. We'd normally park at the Sear and Roebuck store on Western Ave (free parking and eat a sandwich lunch in the car), and walk to Michgan Ave past Western Auto and that fish store. During lunchtime (not for us), but it was so exciting to watch the people stand behind someone waiting for them to finish their meal at the Kresge, Woolworth, or Grant lunch bars--very noisy with all of the glass dishes clanging.ReplyDelete
Robertson's was a little out of our price, but the basement offered a lot of back to school buys. A few times I got taken to see Santa there way upstairs. The big stores had escalators which was great to a kid. Penny's for a long time had a black lady who worked the elevator for you--no push buttons.
My aunt Marge worked at Robertson's toy department. I always loved the trains they had set up there.ReplyDelete
There was a Robinson's Store in Elkhart at theReplyDelete
Concord Mall. Robinson's was a great place to shop
My Great, Great Grandfather was the one who started the store. :-) I want to get a collection of memories from people and put it togetehr in a book to give my Grandpa before he passes.ReplyDelete
My mom would take us to Robertsons via the city bus, and we would sometimes eat in the tea room. The tea room was extra special at Christmas with the tree displays! sometimes we would eat in the mezzanineDelete
great food...great memories!
We moved to South Bend in 1960. In the years that followed, my Mother often took female relatives out to lunch - at the Robertson's Tea Room, of course.Delete
Katie - who was your great great grandfather? I'm guessing Sig Welber, but may be off a generation. I have part of that line myself.ReplyDelete
Robertson's had a birthday club or something. I remember when I was 3, 4, and 5, I went to a birthday party for kids having their birthday in the month of September. I turned 5 in 1957. Also when I was three I went with my mother to the basement area of Robertson's. I heard her say "okay lets go", so I left only to find that she wasn't with me when I got outside. I cried, told a lady that I was in Robertson's and she took me to Kresge's. Mom was told that there was a lost little boy with curly hair at the record dept in Kresge's. Very cool memories.ReplyDelete
Do you have anything on Wymans?ReplyDelete
Robertson's had a branch at Concord Mall in Elkhart. After it initially closed down, it re-opened under new ownership, with a sister store located inside a former Goldblatt's in Mishawaka's Town & Country center, but both eventually floundered. Meis took over the Concord Mall store. In turn, the Meis chain was acquired by Elder-Beerman, which in turn was acquired by Bon-Ton stores, which later acquired numerous department stores from Saks (i.e. Carson Pirie Scott, Younkers, Berlinger's).ReplyDelete
As of this writing, the Elder-Beerman was re-branded a Carson-Pirie-Scott, as was many of the Indiana-based Elder-Beerman stores.
I worked at the Elkhart store from 1977-1983.....great memories!Delete
Paul Bartlett (now in Columbus Indiana working at Target.)
My Mother, Evelyn Mc...., was the manager of the Sweaters and Foundatins Department in 1943-44, during WWII. She is now 96 yo, living in Ohio.ReplyDelete
I should think she'd love to see this:ReplyDelete
There are more images in the saet, too.
I was a little girl in South Bend in the 50s; I loved the times my mother would take me downtown, shopping and window shopping. Those were the days when we still wore gloves sometimes. Robertson's was a favorite stop, especially for the sales. The basement was always full of on-sale treasures.And I remember the trains, on one of the upper floor right when you got off the elevator. And I remember all the stores you mention - Wymans', the upsacel store, where the windows were magical at Christmas time, with the clock tower where we waited for the bus. Grand Leader had huge windows along a little walkway into the store. Then we would have lunch at the counter at Kresge's, or sometimes at the cafeteria at Holloway House. The old movie theaters, the Palace, the State Theater, and the Avon, that showed "art" films - I remember Lolita playing, and my dad went, but I wasn't allowed to go. Anyway, great memories and a wonderful place to gow up.ReplyDelete
I too grew up in South Bend in the 50's. Do any of you remember the Lerner store that was downtown? Was the Francis Shop in the same block as the clock and was it a big department store of just a ladies store? We were so lucky to have lived during this time.ReplyDelete
Hi Katie and all others. I presently live in SB and for a few years did work as a property manager. I've been involved in rehabbing a number of homes in the area and have come across many interesting items and antiques. One such item is an old scrapbook put together by a former Roberston employee. It is literally FILLED with photos, articles, and flyers from the store. There are company letters and memos typed by the owners with their signatures on them. I am willing to take photos of these items and send them to anyone seriously interested in this collection. firstname.lastname@example.orgReplyDelete
My mother now lives in the Robertsons building. It's senior living apartments. The elevators still show what departments are on which floor. The basement still has a coal chute, and there are old giant Christmas decorations against the basement walls. The apartments are nice. There's a laundry room and trash room on each of the 6 floors. On the main level there is a community room that has a kitchenette, piano, vending machines, TV'S, book shelf wall, and WiFi. They have movie nights, bingo, carry-in dinners, and get group trips to Amish Acres, Silverhawks games (they even had a Robertsons day there, they all got souvenir hats and Silverhawks Bucks for food), and they are given extra tickets to symphonies and events at The Morris. There's a nurse who visits twice a week. Every Wed there's a van that takes the non-driving residents to Martins for groceries and Martins sends a clerk back to help them get their food to their apartments. The parking garage still has a glass enclosed walkway leading to Robertsons. Mom loves the convenience of parking in a covered garage and being able to carry stuff from her car without fighting rain or snow. She looks out her window and sees the newly restored marquee of The State brightly lit, and can watch the lines of people milling around waiting for whatever event is going on that night and can just walk across the street to attend. The library is just around the corner, daily outdoor concerts within blocks (including the Red Table Lunch Concerts across the street), First Friday events right outside the front entrance door. Awesome place to live. Ages 55+.ReplyDelete
My mother was June Kerschner...She worked for Phil Welber, in the mid 1940s, and was a buyer who went to New York in her early 20s. Robertsons was a glorious part of my childhood. I can still envision getting on and off the escalator at the various floors...The fabric department was a favorite destination, as was the mezzanine restaurant when I worked for the City of South Bend and would grab a meatloaf lunch before heading back to work. So many memories of Robertsons...and all wonderful.ReplyDelete
Curtis, I sent you an email requesting pictures if you can send on line. That would be SO COOL. It would bring back to life a great memory of once a great Department store. I still can remember the great Ham Salad sandwiches with potato chips on the Mezzanine level, and the trip to the Bakery outside the store to the south for Chocolate Iced chocolate Brownies. As mentioned above, it was neat as a kid to walk across the windowed Skyway from the parking Garage into the back of the store. Also reading the above, I remember being dragged to Kresge's (I liked the pet section in the basement), J.C. Penney's (always remembered a picture of Penney hanging towards the back of the store, and scary dark Inwoods China store several blocks down south of that immediate area. Where has life gone? :)ReplyDelete
When I was 17 I worked in Housewares in the basement of Wyman's Dept store. I purchased a complete set of Pyrex cooking bowls and baking dishes. They were turquoise in color on the outside and the inside was white. I put them on layaway and each pay check I paid a little bit on them until finally they were mine. I am now 76 making them 59 years old. I used them, my daughters have used them and now my granddaughter is getting married and they are being passed on to her. Some of the color has worn off because they are used constantly and hopefully they will be for many more years to come. SharonReplyDelete
I so enjoyed reading all of these comments. I lived in SB from when I was born, 1940, until I graduated from nursing school at Memorial Hosp. in '61. I sure remember all of the areas of Robertson's that have been mentioned. Thanks for sharing your memories.ReplyDelete
I used to love going to Robertson's both as a child & a young adult until they closed. We always went to the "bargain basement" first! Eating at the mezzanine was always a special treat! I remember going to Kresge's with my Grandmother. We always shared club sandwiches & then would buy cashews & chocolates that they put in little white bags! My best friends grandmother made all the pies at Kresge's. My husband & I both fondly remember the Mr. Peanut shop! Roasting peanuts right on the sidewalk! What great memories!ReplyDelete
What fond memories all your notes bring back to me. I grew up in Cassopolis, MI, but every Monday night the stores were open late and our family would drive to South Bend to shop. Loved everything about Robertson's and Kresge's. My grandmother was the checker at Smith Cafeteria so we always stopped in to see her. Then when I graduated from high school, I attended the South Bend College of Commerce which was right down town. My grandmother would pay for my lunch once a week at Smith's. Now I live in Kankakee, IL, but have a son who lives in South Bend. Sure miss those Monday nights.ReplyDelete
Having grown up in South Bend, I do indeed remember the Lerner Store and Frances Shop. Seems Lerner was next door or in the same block as the Sherland Bldg (catty corner from the old Kresge's store). Frances shop was in-between Dainty Maid Bake Shop and Robertsons Dept. Store. Remember my aunt bought her wedding dress at the Frances Shop. I still have Frances Shop, Robertsons, and Wymans boxes and sacks - they really bring back memories.ReplyDelete
I grew up in South Bend and was in high school in the 50's. All of the comments I read here brought back so many happy memories. My Mother worked at Robertsons for 35+ years. She was buyer for third floor sportswear. I believe she worked for Mr.Hasco Metloff. My Aunt was sportswear buyer for the main floor. My husband worked as a stock boy there when he was in high school, and I worked there also during my high school years in gloves, gift wrapping, men's department, etc. One of my favorite things there was the music department, back when we had records. They had small booths, and you could go in there and listen to the records before deciding whether to buy or not. It was a favorite with teenagers. Also, I loved the club sandwiches at the Tea Room. In later years, after I married and had my family, we made it a point to get back to Grandma and Grandpas for Christmas and a trip to the Tea Room so the kids could have breakfast with Santa - same for the Easter Bunny. Robertsons has many great memories for my family. Also, my Uncle was President of Robertsons for several years. I remember several years after Mom retired someone had a style show and a tea type social for anyone who had ever worked at Robertsons. I'm not sure but I think it was the Waterford who had this. We came back from out of state and went with my Mom and Aunt and cousin to this happening. We saw so many people we had not seen in years. It was a great reunion for many of us. It seems like everyone worked at Robertsons Dept. Store at one time or another. One of my favorite possessions is I have acquired a pedestall square table and several chairs that used to be in the Tea Room at Robertsons. Now they are in my den at home.ReplyDelete
Some of you mentioned the old Inwoods building. Recently it was announced that Drewrys Brewing is returning to South Bend and selected the Inwoods Department store location. Check it out.ReplyDelete
I just happened upon this site. My dad, Frank Bingham, who died in 2001 at the age of 98, was the display director of Robertson's Department Store from about 1934 to 1946. We moved to Texas that year and he worked the rest of his career as a sales rep for several large display decoration companies. I grew up on all the wonderful stories of the Welbers and I have many photographs of the windows that my dad installed through the years. My favorite story was that if anyone brought in an item to return that was actually purchased at another competing store, Mr. Welber had given instructions to the clerks to give the customer the full price of that item. The good will that it created was worth much more than the price of the purse, tie, etc. So many great things happened in that store.I was even named by the woman who worked in the hosiery department as my parents were having trouble thinking of a name. (Number 3 child- you know how that can be). I loved reading the comments on this site. Display back in the 30's and 40's before television was really means of communication for the citizens of South Bend. One window that my dad did when President Roosevelt died contained only his large portrait in the center of the window draped with black velvet from the frame to each corner. He said people stood weeping in front of the window, they were so saddened by his death. I have the photograph of that one some where. My Dad was such a great story teller that I remember many of the great stories of the people who worked at Robertson's and The Tearoom was a very special place. Sandra TeagardenReplyDelete
I remember Robertson's so well. Whenever my grandmother and her neighbor went shopping downtown, I went along.ReplyDelete
What I really remember is the lunch counter in the basement of Kresge's with the music department right next to it that had piano I also remember making my grandmother buy fresh donuts made right at the entrance to Kresge's.
No one has mentioned Elsworth's which was right next door to Wyman's. It was the third department store located downtown.
My maternal grandfather, Ray Green, owned the peanut shop. I was reminded of him today when I spoke with someone who grew up in South Bend. I hope he knew how much people loved visiting his shop.ReplyDelete
Oh my. I remember the peanut shop. I loved it there. Remember the small Mr. Peanut that tapped on the window?Delete
anyone have info on the frances shop..just picked up a nifty 'loni exclusive' fur hat but cant seem to find much info about the maker...my granny said it was a higher class womens fashion boutique shes 94 nd im 25 but really love the style!ReplyDelete
did robertsons sell textured ball lamps with yellow and orange coatings around 1965.mr.shwumpReplyDelete
Wow! I remember Robertson's. I got my Prom dress from there. I was a senior at John Adams High School. It was April, 1986 and the store was closing its' doors. I was born and raised in South Bend and, as little girls, my sisters and I always got our "special occasion" apparel from Robertson's. The mall had come to town and Robertson's had lost its prestige so it never crossed my mind to look for my Prom dress there. Anyway, it was the first stop for my mother and I as we began our quest for the perfect dress. The racks were thinning out but I found the most perfect, beautiful, periwinkle ballgown and I instantly fell in love. My mother fell for the gown even harder as it was only thirty bucks! South Bend was the best place to grow up and I'll never forget Robertson's. I wish life could be that simple, again.ReplyDelete
Robertson's was owned by retail conglomerate Gamble-Skogmo, Inc. (Posted by Danny K.)ReplyDelete
Since the building is now an apartment building. You aren't goig to have a Museum thereReplyDelete
Can anyone remember the baby contests they had, this would be during the years of 1974 - 1977 & if anyone can find who took the pictures, where can they be found, pkease let me, searching for memory of the ones my daughters took during those cobtest years, Thanks Mommy Ann!!!ReplyDelete
Does anyone know how I can get a look at the old "Remnant Days at Robertson's" commercial? PLEASE???ReplyDelete
I grew up in South Bend and remember downtown as such a magical place....the peanut store....buying the latest 45 record at kressgees...the tea room at robinsons...Learners was affordable...Wymans was the "expensive"store...Morris Civic was awesome...I hated it when downtown was turned into a "mall"..the street traffic and the foot traffic was part of the magic...I moved away in the 80'subdivision but have the best memories of downtown South Bend....aaaahhhh the good ole days...ReplyDelete
Interesting to read from those of you that remember the store as Robertson's... I am a step-granddaughter of Paul B Inwood who was the original founder of the store that was only known at the time as "Inwood's Department Store". I recall one of his long time employees name was "Nobel" and that he had horses that he let me ride. There were otherReplyDelete
employees that I probably could recall but it has been many years ago. All I do recall now at the age of 70+ was my relationship with my "Grandpa Inwood" was such an inspiration to me and believed in me and helped open a grocery store in Indiana and him doing that changed my life for the better that would not have happened without his help. I deeply hope that Paul B Inwood's soul rests in heaven forever. Why isn't there more about him published as he was the founder of the store, David was the son that inherited his father's investments.
Inwoods was our place to go in the spring to get our garden seeds. They were the first to carry a "super sweet" sweet corn. It was the best. Inside, there seemed to be just about any type of every day china product you could want. They even carried the pickling crocks that one time we bought 2 to make sauerkraut. My dad always referred to the location as the "old Sears store". He was born in SB so must have known. But Inwoods was so unique in what they carried.Delete
Hello! If you would contact me at email@example.com, I would be happy to hear a little more of the Inwood/Robertson history. My intention with this site is to create a brief but definitive history of each store indicated. Perhaps, together, we could give Mr. Inwood the recognition he is due. Thanks for your kind and lovely comments.ReplyDelete
My Mother, Elaine Myers worked for > 20 years @ Robertsons in downtown Mishawaka, Indiana. Is there anyone out there that remembers her? I would sure enjoy hearing from them!!ReplyDelete
My Mother, Elaine Myers worked @ Robertsons for > 20 years. Does anyone out there remember her? I would sure love to hear from them!ReplyDelete
Bruce... I believe that I was mistaken about the connection of the 2 stores, the Inwood Store was not the same as Robertsons'.. It has been a long/long time ago that I was in Indiana, only going on a few memories! Thanks for the reply...ReplyDelete
Thanks for following-up! (most people don't!) Merry Christmas!ReplyDelete
I worked at The Frances Shop in the early 70s. Had a small Mens Dept. 1st floor. Exclusive.ReplyDelete
I grew up in southwestern Michigan and loved shopping at Robertson's. The back to school catalogs were fun to look through for new clothes. They were kind of the local "wish book". In the fifties we got new outfits for Easter and the winter holidays. Fond memories for sure.ReplyDelete
My father was the Personnel Director at Robertsons' from about 1950 to 1960. I to have fond memories of those times, at least the later part of that period. Not sure how to post a photo, but I have one of me and another little one demonstrating a Johnny-Jump-Up in a Robertson's window from about 1950.ReplyDelete
My mother, Elaine Myers , worked at Robertsons, primarily in Ladies Sportswear , from about 1940 to 1959 when she became ill from cancer. I too have great memories and have really enjoyed all the comments about the store and South Bend life. Lois MyersReplyDelete
My great grandfather, Harold Haenes, showed Mr. Robertson how to silk screen and made signs for his windows.ReplyDelete
My wedding gown was purchased at The Frances Shop in South Bend. Do you have any information about that store? That was back in 1961. I didn't reside in South Bend, but my Aunt Ann did and recommended The Frances Shop. As I recall the gown and veil/headpiece cost a whopping $112.00.ReplyDelete
Tell me more about the "Francis Shop" in MishawakaReplyDelete
(My mother, Elaine Myers worked there for > 20 years)