Elder-Beerman Stores


Type Subsidiary
Industry Retail
Founded 1883 Dayton, Ohio
Headquarters Dayton, Ohio
Number of locations 55 (2010)
Products Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares.
Parent The Bon-Ton
Website www.elder-beerman.com

Elder-Beerman is a U.S. chain of department stores founded in 1883 and owned by The Bon-Ton. The chain is based primarily in the United States' Midwest region. As of 2009, it comprises sixty-three stores in eight states.


In 1883, Elder-Beerman history began when Boston Dry Goods Store opened in Dayton, Ohio, and was later incorporated under the name Elder & Johnston Company. In 1930, After a short career with Elder & Johnston, Arthur Beerman, founder of Elder-Beerman Stores Corp., branched out on his own and by 1945 Beerman Stores was incorporated. In 1953, Beerman formed a partnership with Max Gutmann and together they established the Bee Gee Shoe Corporation, which operated the El-Bee Shoe Outlets and Shoebilee! stores for many years before its recent sale. Beerman and Gutmann spent ten years opening Beerman Stores in suburban areas and expanding their product lines.


In 1962, Beerman Stores merged with Elder & Johnston Company to form the Elder-Beerman. For the next 20 years, the Elder-Beerman Stores Corp. grew to include furniture and home lines, and the company expanded with new stores throughout western Ohio and several surrounding states, competing with its Dayton rival, Rike Kumler. After Arthur Beerman's death in 1970, Max Gutmann was promoted to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. In 1985, Herb Glaser was named president and CEO of the department store division. With Herb Glaser as president, Gutmann and Glaser developed the Elder-Beerman franchise through the 1980s and early 1990s. When the company was forced to file for Chapter 11 reorganization in 1995, Max Gutmann and Herb Glaser returned from retirement to turn the company around. During the bankruptcy, Frederick J. Mershad asked to replace Gutmann as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

Elder-Beerman has acquired three chains throughout its history: Cincinnati, Ohio based Mabley & Carew in 1978;Terre Haute, IN-based Meis in 1989, and Wheeling, WV-based Stone & Thomas in 1998 .

1999 and 2003 Prototypes

In Fall 1999, Elder-Beerman saw introduction of their new concept in retailing, with the opening of two prototype stores in Warsaw, Indiana, and Frankfort, Kentucky. The prototype included centralized Service Centers that are always staffed; trained Sales Specialists who are committed to serving customers in the store; open-stock cosmetic and shoe departments that allow customers to select items without searching for assistance; courtesy telephones for free local calls; and pager buttons in the women's fitting rooms so customers may page for assistance.

In 2003, Elder-Beerman opened smaller-scale prototypes in Dekalb, Illinois (now Carson Pirie Scott) and Muscatine, Iowa, the latter being the chain's first Iowa location. These stores represented a new marketing strategy of operating smaller-format stores in mid-sized markets.


Elder-Beerman was acquired by The Bon-Ton in 2003. At that point, Elder-Beerman had exited bankruptcy and was in discussions to go private when Bon-Ton stepped in offering more cash for outstanding stock. Today Elder-Beerman operates 63 department stores in 8 states.


  1. The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. 2010 Annual Report
  2. The Elder-Beerman Stores Corp | Further Reading: International Directory of Company Histories
  3. Elder-Beerman Buying Stone & Thomas. | Daily News Record | Find Articles at BNET.com

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