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First Department Store

October 16, 2014

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Profile America — Thursday, October 16th. Today marks an anniversary that should please America's power shoppers. On this date in 1868, the first full-line department store in the U.S. was organized in Salt Lake City. Called "Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution," it opened the next year. The idea of the department store soon spread around the country, hailed for the convenience such retail powerhouses offered consumers and becoming points of civic pride. The era of the classic, high-rise downtown department store has been eclipsed, but modern equivalents -- usually one or two stories high and located in suburban malls -- are still major players in the retail scene. There are nearly 14,000 department stores in the U.S., a powerful presence among the country's 49,000 general merchandise establishments. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at

Founding of the department store:
Store history:
Number of department stores:
2012 County Business Patterns data on general merchandise establishments: NAICS 452

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | Last Revised: September 26, 2014