John Wanamaker

From Academic Kids

John Wanamaker (July 11, 1838 - December 12, 1922) was a United States businessman, considered the father of the department store. Wanamaker was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In 1875 he purchased an abandoned railroad depot and converted it into a large store, Wanamaker's, generally considered the first American department store. It was also a Philadelphia institution for decades. He opened a second store in New York City in 1896 and continued to expand his business.

A businessman who revered Jesus, Wanamaker was an innovator, creative in his work, and a merchandising genius, though modest and with an enduring reputation for honesty.

In 1889 Wanamaker began the First Penny Savings Bank in order to encourage thrift.

Wanamaker was appointed United States Postmaster General by President Benjamin Harrison in 1889. Wanamaker served until 1893, and was credited with introducing many efficiencies to the Postal Service.

At his death in 1922, his estate was estimated to be $35 million (USD). He had two residences. One was his city townhouse at 2032 Walnut Street, which was modeled similar to an English manor house. His other house was the Lindenhurst mansion in Cheltenham on York Road, below Washington Lane. A station - Chelten Hills (below Jenkintown) - was constructed in addition to his vast mansion. A family trust owned the Wanamaker's store chain until 1978, run by his family's heirs.

Quotes

  • "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half."
  • "You mend your automobile on the spot when something breaks. Don't let your life be going on with something crippled in it."
  • "A little more effort on the part of everybody to make the times better, and better times will surely come along."
  • "The customer is always right."

See also

Wanamaker's Department Store

External links/sources

John Wanamaker: A retailing innovator (http://www.maykuth.com/Archives/wana95.htm)
Who Made America? (John Wanamaker, Innovator) (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/theymadeamerica/whomade/wanamaker_hi.html)


Preceded by:
Don M. Dickinson
Postmaster General Succeeded by:
Wilson S. Bissell
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