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Emery, Bird, Thayer department store opens

DATE OF EVENT: Monday, Sept. 22, 1890

DATE PUBLISHED: Monday, Sept. 22, 1890, in The Kansas City Star

Editor’s note: Bullene, Moore, Emery & Co., later to become the Emery, Bird, Thayer department store, was a well-established retailer when it opened its signature location in 1890 in Kansas City. The company remained a Kansas City institution for three-quarters of a century, until July 17, 1968, when the store announced its closure and that of its landmark location.



Thousands of People Inspect the New Store — Everything in Shape for the Great Public Reception — The Beauties of the New Business Mansion

Never in the history of a Western city, and probably of an Eastern city as well, has the entire population in general and the female portion in particular been as stirred up over an era in the history of one of its business houses, as has this city upon the opening of Bullene, Moore, Emery & Co.’s new Grand Arcade store at Eleventh, Grand avenue and Walnut street this morning. As announced in The Star on Saturday, this store threw open its doors to the public this morning at 8 o’clock; not so much for the purpose of selling goods as to allow the people to see what a thoroughly modern and complete concern it is. Long before the doors were opened the three street entrances were crowded with ladies, gentlemen and children waiting for admittance. At the hour the massive mahogany doors swung open and the crowds pressed in. Those in front seemed inclined to stop at the very first show case, but the mass of people in the rear pushed them on and a firm stand was impossible. They kept coming all the morning, so that by shopping time, 10 to 12, when the ladies are generally down town, the numbers began to swell, the aisles filled, and it was almost impossible to get through the jam. T.B. Bullene took his stand at the main entrance, the Walnut street door, and pleasantly greeted everyone, making the welcome doubly assured. The affair resembled more a grand social reception than the opening of a business house. Mr. L.R. Moore was at the landing of the second floor and his kindly greeting was as cordial and sincere to one as to another. Mr. Bird was a hard man to find as he is the general head of the mammoth concern and he was constantly in demand either receiving congratulations, answering questions or directing orders. All along the aisles were scattered floor directors who told the bewildered mass where to find any department sought for.

After seeing the store Saturday morning and this morning it seems wonderful that such an amount of goods could be brought together and put in presentable shape in such a short time. But very little remains to be done now, and what little there is it would take the eye of the most accomplished and thoroughly trained dry goods man to point out. The elevator service, while very complete, seemed almost inadequate to accommodate the thousands who swarmed the stations awaiting a lift; and yet many times more than these didn’t care to ride—they came to inspect and take things leisurely, and preferred to climb from the basement to the seventh floor up the grand stair case. The latter is a model of the cabinetmakers’ art, as nothing like it is to be seen west of Boston…

The shoe department and the youths’ suit department, both innovations with this house, were objects of especial interest and they are fitted up so handsomely that one can not refrain from stopping for a look if not caring to buy. …

Undoubtedly the most novel feature in the fixtures of the store is the pneumatic tube system used for conveying the cash from one department to the central station. … There are thirty-five stations in the building, one for each department. The clerk puts the cash ticket and the money in a little brass cup which fits the tube, and placing the cup in the mouth of the tube it is sucked up through the opening and almost before she can wink the money drops out of the other end, at the central station, where the necessary change is made, put back in the cup and again whisked through the tube to the station from which it came. This all can be done in less than a minute of time from any part of any floor to the central station…

It will be no exaggeration to state that at least 20,000 people visited the new store of Bullene, Moore, Emery & Co. today.