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Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012

Schuster’s & Gimbels: Milwaukee’s Beloved Department Stores (The History Press)

by Paul H. Geenen

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Gimbels and Schuster’s were watchwords in Milwaukee retail as competing department stores vying for elegance, service and scope of merchandise. A Gimbels’ employee in the 1970s, Paul Geenen traces both stores to German immigrants who settled here in the 19th century, seeing the burgeoning city as a place of opportunity. In 1962 the two chains merged, but the consolidation didn’t survive corporate takeovers and the changing retail environment. By the end of the ’80s, Gimbels was gone, leaving memories of the 165-foot Christmas tree on the side of its downtown store, the appropriately named Tasty Town dinners and the annual Billie the Brownie Christmas promotion. 

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