Lehman Brothers Collection - Contemporary Business Archives

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Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Interstate Department Stores, Inc. - Lehman Brothers Collection

Interstate Department Stores, Inc.

List of Deals

Interstate Department Stores was incorporated in Delaware on February 14, 1928, to acquire the capital stock of twenty-two companies operating twenty-three department stores in the states of Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

Interstate acquired the Aurora Dry Goods Company of Aurora, Illinois, in October 1929. Interstate earned $1.1 million from sales of $25.5 million in 1929. During the 1930s Interstate sales and earnings fluctuated from year to year, but gradually rose. Sales were $23.9 million in 1936, followed by an increase to $28 million in 1937 and then a decline to $26.9 million in 1938.

In January 1944 Interstate announced that it had arranged for $8 million of private financing for store expansion and to retire the outstanding preferred stock.

Even though the post-World War II period was a time of prosperity for the United States, Interstate did not benefit significantly. The company earned $1.4 million from sales of $62.8 million in 1948, and in 1957 profits were actually lower at $1.3 million on sales of $67.2 million. It was not until Interstate began an aggressive acquisition program in the late 1950s that the company began to grow once again.

Interstate operated forty-eight stores in fifteen states in late 1958, selling low- and medium-price merchandise. In April 1959 Interstate acquired the entire stock of White Front Stores, Inc., of Los Angeles for 16,393 shares and $600,000. White Front was a two-unit, low-mark-up operation, with volume of more than $20 million per year. This acquisition was of great help to Interstate, providing the company with record sales of $85 million in 1960, up from $65.6 million in fiscal 1959.

The company acquired the entire stock of Topps Stores in September 1960 for 16,000 shares and Maddi-Lou Trust for 4,000 shares. Topps was a privately owned, ten-store discount retail chain with stores in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

Interstate entered food retailing in 1962, creating twenty new discount stores, seven of which sold grocery items. Each store averaged about 20,000 square feet in space, and they were spread out over eleven states.

In 1966 Interstate bought Children’s Supermart, Inc., a Washington, D.C. area chain store consisting of four discount toy stores. In March 1969 it acquired Children’s Bargain Town, Inc., an eight-store discount toy chain with annual sales of approximately $17 million. At the same time, it also purchased Steel City Department Stores, Inc., for $15 million.

Through its subsidiaries, Interstate operated 139 retail stores in 115 cities in the United States by 1969. Sales for the company grew from $115 million for the fiscal year ending January 31, 1961, to $641 million by 1969.

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