S&G Store Founded in 1893
|Courtesy Black River|
The depression of 1893 was over and business was just picking up when three men in their twenties, Henry F. Smith, J. F. (Jake) Gerhart and John Opfer, opened the Boston Store in less than 3,000 square feet of space.
Many old-timers still refer to Smith and Gerhart as the Boston Store, which was popular because of the finest ready-made attire and yard goods which was brought in from Boston and England.
The original Boston Store was located on the present site of the Woolworth Co. in the 500 block of Broadway. The land on which the store stood was owned by another Henry Smith, an Oberlin resident and an uncle of one of the founders.
When the store opened coal was delivered anywhere in the city at $1.75 per ton, men's work shirts were selling at 29 cents each and one bakery was giving away bread to attract customers.
In those early days charge accounts were filed on a spindle, clerks worked about 65 hours per week and took home a five dollar bill at the end of each week.
Today, Smith and Gerhart has a large corps of girls in a modern accounting department, a small army of trained clerks and supervisors, merchandising methods are up-to-the-minute and the 36,000 square feet of space is systematically utilized for convenient and easy shopping.
The Boston Store grew from the start. In 1903, the firm purchased from the Wickens family a building at 506-508 Broadway which adjoins the present structure.
|1957 version of S&G logo|
A third floor was added to the old building of which the first floor was occupied by another company and a children's department was opened in March, 1939.
In 1941, 1944, 1945 and 1946 the second and main floors were modernized, a fourth floor was added to the 506-598 Broadway structure and a "Youth Center" was added.
|Current view of the S&G Bldg|
Dan C. Smith, the present owner and son of one of the founders, said Smith and Gerhart is continuing to progress and live up to the reputation established more than half a century ago for excellence in stock, quality of goods at low prices.
****In early July 1980, it was announced that Smith & Gerhart was going out of business when its present inventory was sold. At the time, the store was the oldest business in downtown Lorain.
A Chronicle-Telegram article of July 4, 1980 stated, "The store has gone from a four-floor operation with 119 employees to nine employees working on two floors."