Stern Brothers was founded in 1867 by Isaac, Louis and Benjamin Stern, sons of German Jewish immigrants. In that year, they began selling dry goods in Buffalo, New York. From these humble beginnings, the Stern Brothers became an important merchandising family in New York City.
In 1868, they moved to New York City and opened a one-room store at 367 Sixth Avenue. In 1879, the store was again relocated to larger quarters at 110 West 23rd Street.
In 1892 this enormous, six-story building was executed in the Renaissance Revival style designed by architect William Schickel.
The company’s monogram is still located above the central arch. (This structure is still in use today. The first floor houses a Home Depot, while the upper floors are showrooms.). The entire Stern family worked in this store, which carried both luxury goods and merchandise for the working classes. It was an elegant store noted for its fashionable clothes. Ladies from all over the city came to Stern Brothers for their Paris fashions. This enterprise was distinguished by its elegant door men in top hats and the generous and friendly service of the Sterns themselves.
Stern Brothers was a family business. The family for decades ran the store and family members filled the many positions in the store. It was not uncommon for customers to be greeted by the brothers themselves. The family was joined by Arthur D. Brandeis in 1914. His daughter had married Irving C. Stern, one of the directors of Stern Brothers.
In 1913, Stern Brothers moved farther uptown and built a new flagship store near Fifth Avenue and West 42nd Street across from Bryant Park. The new store had nine floors with the buying offices located in the basement. Stern Brothers catered to the Carriage Trade and had a separate entrance for customers like the Goulds and Astors. Since the store was near the Theater District, many up and coming stars worked in the store. The busy hours of the store were between 11am to 2pm, when local workers from the area where on their lunch.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, sales began to decline as most white New Yorkers moved to the suburbs. In its final years, Stern Brothers closed this location in 1969 and left New York City to focus on their stores in New Jersey. The flagship store was moved to the Bergen Mall, New Jersey location. The 42nd Street building was sold and demolished to make way for the W.R. Grace chemical company which moved into their new building in 1974.
The chain was in business for more than 130 years, prior to its 2001 integration into Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.
info via wikipedia