DILLARD DEPARTMENT STORES, INC. (formerly the HIGBEE CO.) has been a major area retailer operating department stores throughout northeastern Ohio since 1860. Hower & Higbee, a dry-goods and ready-to-wear clothing store, opened 10 Sept. 1860 at 237 Superior St. near W. 3rd St. A decade later, John Hower and Edwin C. Higbee moved the store to larger quarters across the street, and it prospered there. After Hower died in 1897, Higbee became president, until his death in Jan. 1906, when his son, Wm. T., succeeded him; in the meantime, the firm had been reorganized as the Higbee Co. The store moved to new facilities at Euclid and E. 13th St. in 1910, and although Higbee sold his controlling interest to a group of investors 3 years later, it retained the Higbee name. By 1929 annual sales had reached $11.8 million, and that year the store became part of the Van Sweringen empire. The Higbee Co. moved into the Terminal Tower complex at PUBLIC SQUARE in 1931, but was forced into bankruptcy by the rigors of the Depression in 1935. It emerged 2 years later as a full-service department store with a group of new investors that included Chas. L. Bradley (president 1937-44) and JOHN P. MURPHY (president 1944-68). After World War II, sales increased as the store upgraded its merchandise, although management was slow to open suburban outlets. In the decade of the 1960s, Higbee's established 6 stores in the suburbs, and annual sales jumped from $52 million to more than $100 million. Briefly owned by Brierly Investments Ltd. of New Zealand, the profitable chain was sold in 1987 to Dillard Dept. Stores and Edward J. DeBartolo. At that time Higbee's was the area's largest sales volume retailer of high-end fashion merchandise, with 14 stores in northeast Ohio and 1986 sales of $299.8 million. When DeBartolo sold his share in July 1992, the chain was renamed Dillard's.

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