The Boston Store, Milwaukee’s last great department store and the last link to the past greatness of Milwaukee’s once bustling and vibrant downtown, is gone.
Bon Ton, the owner of Boston Store, Yonkers Carsons, and other retail stores, is liquidating.
It is still hoped that someone will buy their inventory and save the once great Milwaukee landmark, The Boston Store, unfortunately however, that is the merest breath of a hope.
The city of Milwaukee had thrown millions of dollars at The Boston Store to help it survive and keep it downtown, but that was just wishful thinking.
This is most likely the death nell of not only The Boston Store, but of department stores everywhere. Once, like the proud bison of the American plains, they were everywhere, thundering across our consciousness.
You couldn’t throw a snowball in downtown Milwaukee without hitting one of these majestic giants. They were Amazon before there ever was an Internet.
Our downtown thrived because of these flagship retail stores. Beautiful edifices dedicated to Gimbel’s, T.A. Chapman’s, Schusters, Epenhains, J.C. Penny, Woolworths and more graced the streets all veying for our shopping dollars.
And they were all successful. Milwaukee’s downtown was bustling with humanity. Well-dressed people strolled up and down the Grand Avenue, now Wisconsin Avenue, shopping. The streets were filled with cars looking for a space to park.
Now the streets are deserted in comparison to those days of the mid-twentieth century.
But downtown isn’t the only place experiencing this hole in its economy due to the loss of the department store, malls everywhere also are losing their anchor stores that once drew hordes of shoppers.
Sears recently closed here, and now soon The Boston Store will be gone, leaving vacant buildings filled only with the echoes of memories while mall managements everywhere scramble to fill these large empty spaces at the ends of their malls.
Just a few weeks ago I blogged about how The Boston Store downtown had shrunk from owning a massive many-storied building covering nearly an entire city block to becoming just a tiny tenant within it.
I didn’t think I’d be writing their obituary so soon.
Good bye, The Boston Store. We had some grand times, didn’t we?