On this day, August 18 in the year 1834, the founder of Chicago-based department stores was born in Massachusetts, USA. His name was Marshall Field, one of the richest men in the United States during his time.
Marshall Field was the son of a farming couple. At the age of 17, he started working in a dry goods store. Determined not to remain poor, he saved whatever amount he can. Four years later, he moved to Chicago then a booming Midwestern city. There, he got employment in a leading merchant company where he rose to become a full partner. After several reconfiguration of the partnership due to withdrawal and entry of some partners, the company became Marshall Field & Company in 1881.
In 1887, Marshall Field opened a wholesale store which earned five times more revenue than the retail division. Due to his emphasis on good customer service, Marshall Field’s department Stores became synonymous with great and modern shopping. He introduced a one price system and created a merchandise return policy. Aside from having luxurious merchandise, he was liberal in granting customer credit. Above all, he located his stores in the most modern iconic buildings where he also set up restaurants which became the locations for social gathering.
Although he was considered the most powerful businessman in Chicago during his time, Marshall avoided politics. Instead, he became a philanthropist donating $1 million for the establishment of a museum of natural history. He was also the co-founder of the University of Chicago.
Marshall Field died of pneumonia in 1906 at the age of 71. He married twice and had 3 children. At the time of his death, his net worth was estimated at $125 million.