Remembering Burdines: The Florida Store
Burdines was an American chain of department stores operating in the state of Florida, headquartered in Miami. The original store opened in Bartow, Florida in 1896 as a carriage-trade shop. Over its nearly 110-year history, Burdines grew into a popular chain of department stores, known as 'The Florida Store,' decorated with palm trees in the center of the store, painted in pink and blue, and other subtropical colors and motifs. In 1956, the stores became a part of Federated Department Stores, Inc. (now Macy's, Inc.) On January 30, 2004, it was renamed Burdines-Macy's, and a year later, on March 6, 2005, the name Burdines was dropped altogether. The majority of the stores were rebranded as Macy's while a handful closed.
In 1897, Henry Payne and William M. Burdine opened a dry goods store in the central Florida city of Bartow. A year later, Payne left the company, and Burdine brought in his son, John, as a partner, resulting in the company's name change to W.M. Burdine and Son. In 1898, Burdine bought a block on South Miami Avenue, one block south of Flagler Street, in the then-fledgling community of Miami. That year he opened the first W.M. Burdine & Son store at the location, just two years after the first people had arrived in the area from the newly completed Florida East Coast Railway to incorporate the city. His tiny store held only a few shelves of clothing, which were primarily sold to construction workers, soldiers from the Spanish–American War, and the local Miccosukee and Seminole Native Americans. Burdine was amazed with the business that he did in Miami and decided to close his store in Bartow and move his operations base to Miami, changing the business name to Burdines and Sons.
By 1912, under the leadership of Roddy Burdine, Burdines had grown into a full-fledged department store and continued expanding. The land-boom of the 1920s helped the store launch its first branch in Miami Beach. As Florida's population soared, so did the growth of Burdines. Over the next thirty years, four other branches opened across the state of Florida.
In the late 1940s, Burdines opened an international mail order program that served Latin America. This resulted in a rise of popularity for the company, and military personnel stationed in Cuba would send a supply ship to Miami every 6 months with orders for Burdines.
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In 1956, Burdines merged with Federated Department Stores, Inc. The financial support given by Federated allowed Burdines to push north and westward in the 1970s and 1980s. Beginning in 1966 they opened stores in Hialeah (at Westland Mall), Pompano Beach, Hollywood, Orlando (at Orlando Fashion Square), Altamonte Springs, Clearwater, Sarasota (at Southgate Mall), Fort Lauderdale (Clearance Center), Plantation (at Broward Mall), Boca Raton, South Dade (Clearance Center), Fort Myers, West Palm Beach (at Palm Beach Shopping Center), St. Petersburg, Cutler Ridge, Fort Lauderdale (at The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale, 1981), Daytona Beach, Doral (at Miami International Mall), Melbourne (at Melbourne Square Mall), Tampa (at Tampa Bay Center and University Square), Coconut Grove (at Mayfair Shops, 1984-1991)
Coral Springs (at Coral Square Mall), Boynton Beach, Palm Beach Gardens.
In 1971, the Burdines store in Dadeland Mall became the largest suburban department store south of New York. Burdines also piloted auto centers, beginning in 1960, at their 163rd St location and the Miami warehouse, after testing it in Fort Lauderdale.
In 1991, following the 1988 merger of Federated with the Allied Stores Corporation and subsequent bankruptcy reorganization, Burdines absorbed Allied's Tampa-based Maas Brothers/Jordan Marsh Florida division, converting many of the stores to Burdines and closing the rest. The conversion resulted in there being fifty-eight Burdines stores in the state of Florida, more than twice their initial store count of 27.
During the 1990s, stores opened at Pembroke Lakes Mall in Pembroke Pines in the Miami Metropolitan Area, Brandon Town Center in Brandon in the Tampa Bay Area, and Seminole Towne Center in Sanford in the Orlando Metropolitan Area.
Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 1996, Burdines sold custom-made FIESTAWARE pitchers by The Homer Laughlin China Company. The pitchers held 67.5 ounces of liquid and stood seven inches tall.
From 1999 to 2001, Burdines experienced major growth, expanding into seven new locations and significantly renovating their existing stores with a lighter color palette and an upgraded decor. The most publicly anticipated stores that opened during this period were those located in expansions of The Florida Mall in Orlando and Aventura Mall in Aventura, while other stores opened with new shopping malls such as Citrus Park Town Center in Citrus Park and The Mall at Wellington Green in Wellington.
During this period, Burdines also tried another new layout at their store in St. Petersburg's Tyrone Square Mall, in an attempt to improve convenience for shoppers. The store upgraded to use a central checkout system and was expected to be more popular among shoppers since they would only need to see a cashier once before leaving. However, the design failed as an employee had to manually apply a coded sticker (identifying who made the sale) to the price tag of each item before customers left the store. Thus, this convenience plan was quickly abandoned by Burdines, and the company resumed using traditional cashier layouts.
The former flagship store in Miami continued to operate as a Macy's until it was closed in March 2018. Ross Stores leased the building in 2019, and are redeveloping it to relocate a nearby store whose building was set to be demolished in favor of a 92-story skyscraper. The redevelopment will permit a second store to be located on the first floor of the building.
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