Extinct department stores from America’s past

2 min



While many department stores still exist in America, some big ones have gone defunct. They once dominated the shopping scene in the U.S., but time has forgotten them. You may remember shopping at some of these retailers.

‘Montgomery Ward & Co.’ was the first mail-order business in the country. After success with its catalog, it opened a department store that operated from 1872 until 2001. The company and catalog would rival ‘Sears’ for many years.


‘Kmart Corporation’ was another big box department store, and the company was incorporated in 1899 in Illinois. At its peak in 1994, Kmart owned 2,486 stores globally. Kmart was America’s early version of Walmart in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

‘Sears, Roebuck and Co.’ is a department store enterprise founded in 1892 as a mail-order company. It opened its first retail locations in 1925 in Chicago. Through the 1980s, Sears was the largest retailer in the United States.

‘The J. L. Hudson Company,’ also known as ‘Hudson’s,’ was an upscale department store chain based in Michigan. In 1961, Hudson’s flagship store in Detroit was the tallest department store in the world.

‘Marshall Field & Company’ was located in Chicago after being founded in the 19th century. It grew into a large chain before Macy’s acquired it in 2005. The company’s flagship store is a National landmark in the Chicago Loop.

‘Caldor’ was a discount department store chain founded in 1951. It had become known as the ‘Bloomingdale’s of discounting.’ Caldor’s stores were earning over 1 billion dollars in sales by 1985. All the stores closed in 1999, leaving only the memory of discount department store shopping.

These department stores are gone from the American shopping landscape. Still, many of us remember shopping in these huge stores growing up.


Like it? Share with your friends!