February 12, 2007

Speigel's

And the man behind the brand is...
Joseph Spiegel

The Spiegel family trace their ancestry to a prosperous 16th century German textile merchant who bought the largest mirror (spiegel in German) he could find in town. He carted the mirror up to his hillside home but could not find a way to get it through the door. He leaned it against the wall by the door and searched for a way in. He never found it. The mirror remained on the hill and became a town landmark. The family who lived in the house came to be known as the Spiegels.

In 1848 the current Spiegels fled their homeland to escape political strife and went to New York. They had no money, no friends and spoke no English.
Trying to survive the best they could the family splintered; the father working all the time peddling needles and small housewares, daughters marrying into hopeful circumstances, a brother moving to Ohio.

When the Civil War erupted 19-year old Joseph itched to join his older brother in battle. Marcus, a German revolutionary, rose rapidly to the position of Colonel in the Union Army and promised the family he would keep young Joseph from harm. Marcus assigned him to a regimen of volunteers.

The 120th of Ohio was sent on an ill-advised invasion of the Texas Red River area in an attempt to secure wool for New England textile mills and was summarily turned back. Returning from the campaign on the City Belle, the paddlewheeler was ambushed by Confederate trips. Marcus was killed and Joseph taken prisoner.

After the war Joseph went to Chicago to live with a sister and her husband. Spiegel found the brawling town to be little more than a step up from prison with unsanitary water and a ubiquitous stench from the new meat-packing houses.
But the young town had a vibrancy and promise.
In less than a month his brother-in-law had set him up in the furniture business.

At J. Spiegel and Company he waited on customers, ordered stock,
tended the books and packed merchandise. By 1870 Spiegel assumed full control.
The next year the Great Chicago Fire consumed the business district and Spiegel scrambled to haul as much stock as possible to his backyard before his small wood shop was destroyed. The next morning he leased a lot on Michigan Avenue and began selling what he could under a tent.

A rebuilding Chicago needed his furniture but the Panic of 1873 sapped his remaining resources. He was able to entice an investor, Jacob Cahn, to remain open as Spiegel and Cahn, Retail Furniture Dealers. Business was brisk and when Cahn retired in 1879 Spiegel was once again selling furniture as J. Spiegel and Company.

At the time a wave of immigrants populated Chicago and spawned a spate of cut-rate, low-quality furniture dealers. Spiegel, who deplored the trade in cheap goods, responded aggressively with advertising, even supplying furniture to theaters as props in exchange for mentions on the playbills. But his wealthy customers were deserting traditional areas for newer homes in the suburbs. Spiegel was looking at a dying business.

He finally succumbed to his son Modie’s idea of an entire spectrum of household goods sold at low cost on consumer credit. Modie attracted $32,000 in investors for his plan and in 1893 the business incorporated as Spiegel House Furnishings Company. Joseph acted as general administrator, stationed formally at the front door to greet customers and guide them to salesmen on the floor. In 1898 the first branch store for new markets opened to chase their former clients to the outreaches of Chicago.

Selling was a high-pressure environment and Spiegel’s gained a reputation for “wacky” goings-on. Modie ran the show - and often it was. The floor covering area could transform overnight into an Arabian Nights desert home to move a few Persian rugs. But the real showstopper was unlimited credit - “All you want -
on your terms.”

More Spiegels entered the business. The least promising was Arthur, Joseph’s youngest son. Given a job as a salesman he often fell asleep on a pile of a rugs. He was exiled to the warehouse and eventually given the lowest job his father could find - answering the mail. Spiegel occasionally received letters about ordering by mail on credit and it was Arthur’s job to politely invite the inquirers to visit a Spiegel store in Chicago.

One day Arthur asked his father how many of these letters he thought Spiegel received in the course of a year. Joseph’s guesstimate was ridiculously low. Arthur pestered his father for a trial at filling these orders. His father, perhaps seeing this as a way to inspire his unenterprising son, relented. Arthur handled each request personally by providing information about the wanted items, figuring the down payment, explaining the terms and figuring freight costs. In no time he had more business than he could handle, all of it unsolicited.

What would happen if Spiegel advertised? Joseph couldn’t understand offering credit to complete strangers but Arthur couldn’t be dissuaded. He produced a 24-page booklet of mail-order merchandise. Tiny Spiegel’s only innovation in a field dominated by Sears & Roebuck and Montgomery Ward was free credit. Arthur wrote an editorial on “The Beauties of Installment Credit” and adopted the slogan, “We Trust the People - Everywhere!”

The tiny Spiegel House Furnishings had more orders than they could fill.
By 1906 mail sales reached $980,000 - double the volume of retail stores.
Arthur and his staff was working 90-hour weeks. To fuel the growth Spiegel incorporated and never looked back.

Joseph Spiegel, approaching 70, was glad to let the mail division boom in another direction. He was never comfortable mailing good merchandise to people he had never met. Joseph continued doing what he liked best - greeting customers in his store and selling furniture to his friends.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I found a great shopping site named Couponalbum.com which provides all branded stores like Spiegel, Sears, & Macys.....!!

Anonymous said...

Долгое время просто читала истории для этом сайте, наверное, хотела понять, как после такой дикой боли кто-то вновь начинает жить... А я не могу, не получается. Развод намечен на январь, почти одновременно затем праздников. А во мне прыгают вопросы-зомби: "после что?" и ещё "чем она лучше?" [url=http://tutledy.ru/o-muzhskom-tele/71-sootnosheniye-rosta-i-vesa.html]соотношение роста и веса[/url]

ninest123 said...

burberry, true religion outlet, replica handbags, nike free run uk, true religion jeans, abercrombie and fitch, michael kors outlet, coach outlet, hogan, nike air max, true religion jeans, nike air max, kate spade handbags, lacoste pas cher, michael kors outlet, burberry outlet online, hermes, michael kors, new balance pas cher, ray ban pas cher, vanessa bruno, lululemon, ugg boots, sac guess, converse pas cher, ralph lauren uk, mulberry, coach outlet, michael kors outlet, ugg boots, michael kors outlet, vans pas cher, nike roshe, timberland, michael kors, north face, nike blazer, tn pas cher, nike air max, north face, air force, ray ban uk, oakley pas cher, hollister pas cher, michael kors outlet, coach purses, michael kors, michael kors, true religion jeans, hollister

ninest123 said...

ralph lauren, birkin bag, babyliss, reebok shoes, p90x workout, nfl jerseys, abercrombie and fitch, soccer jerseys, nike air max, jimmy choo shoes, north face outlet, beats by dre, valentino shoes, insanity workout, hollister, nike huarache, timberland boots, mac cosmetics, new balance, north face outlet, lancel, louboutin, chi flat iron, ray ban, vans, instyler, lululemon, baseball bats, mcm handbags, nike roshe, iphone cases, ferragamo shoes, hollister, nike air max, longchamp, bottega veneta, asics running shoes, ghd, wedding dresses, mont blanc, soccer shoes, nike trainers, herve leger, celine handbags, converse outlet, giuseppe zanotti, hollister, gucci, oakley, vans shoes

ninest123 said...

moncler, supra shoes, moncler, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, doudoune canada goose, canada goose uk, canada goose outlet, karen millen, louis vuitton, canada goose, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, swarovski crystal, canada goose, sac louis vuitton pas cher, pandora jewelry, moncler, moncler outlet, canada goose outlet, moncler, pandora charms, louis vuitton, thomas sabo, montre pas cher, louis vuitton, moncler, louis vuitton, juicy couture outlet, marc jacobs, bottes ugg, toms shoes, swarovski, juicy couture outlet, moncler, pandora charms, links of london, moncler, coach outlet, hollister, replica watches, ugg pas cher, canada goose, ugg boots uk, wedding dresses, pandora jewelry, canada goose

ninest123 said...

ugg boots, nike air max, replica watches, louis vuitton outlet, air jordan pas cher, prada outlet, oakley sunglasses, replica watches, longchamp outlet, nike free, oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton outlet, ray ban sunglasses, polo ralph lauren outlet, louis vuitton, louis vuitton, tory burch outlet, christian louboutin outlet, nike air max, prada handbags, louboutin outlet, cheap oakley sunglasses, chanel handbags, kate spade outlet, longchamp, nike free, ray ban sunglasses, polo ralph lauren outlet, nike roshe run, tiffany and co, michael kors, uggs on sale, ralph lauren pas cher, sac longchamp, jordan shoes, oakley sunglasses, tiffany jewelry, louis vuitton, nike outlet, louboutin pas cher, gucci outlet, longchamp pas cher, ray ban sunglasses, longchamp outlet, louboutin, oakley sunglasses, air max, louboutin shoes, burberry, ugg boots