Himelhochs Detroit and Beyond

Between 1910 and 1920, Detroits population doubled, and Himelhochs store achieved exceptional growth. In 1915, the store employed 60 people. In 1957, the 50th anniversary of the stores, the Detroit News reported that Himelhochs employed 600 employees, with offices in New York, Paris, and Detroit. The store moved to the Washington Arcade Building after the J.L. Hudson company purchased Himelhochs initial Detroit location. The new building had seven floors and two entrances - one at 1545 Woodward Avenue, and the other on Washington Blvd. The building was an existing structure brought to a state of exceptional beauty when it was remodeled by Albert Kahn. Its impressive ceiling was admired by architects and customers alike.

Himelhoch Brothers and Company Storefront on Woodward Avenue Detroit.�� Himelhoch Brothers and Company View from Across Woodward Avenue Detroit.�� Himelhoch's Storefront on Washington Boulevard Detroit.��� Himelhoch's-A view looking up from the Washington Boulevard Entrance Detroit.���

Photos of Himelhoch’s™ © Himelhoch’s LLC - The three at left are on Woodward Ave., the right two are on Washington Blvd, Detroit, Michigan

According to an interview with 99-year-old Chuck Himelhoch (October 16, 2018), the street level housed toiletries, accessories, handkerchiefs, hosiery, and various non-clothing items. Coats and a fur salon were located on the second floor. The third floor is where better dresses, millenary, handbags, and shoes were sold. On the fourth floor, one could find dresses and the bridal salon. Casual clothing, a.k.a. “beach and play clothes,” were housed on the fifth floor. The top two floors were not used as sales spaces. Executive offices were on the seventh floor.

When Israel Himelhoch retired at age 79, he had actively managed the Detroit, Birmingham, Grosse Point, Westland, and Northland stores. His son Jerome (Jerry) had no interest in the business. He was a Rhodes Scholar, and pursued a career as an academic. His youngest son, Charles (Chuck) Himelhoch, known affectionately by employees as “Mr. Charles,” ran the store for 35 years.

The store expanded from its Detroit headquarters, opening branches in Birmingham in 1950, Grosse Pointe in 1952, and Northland in 1954. Other branches soon followed in downtown Dearborn, Fairlane Mall - also in Dearborn, Westland, Ann Arbor, and Toledo, Ohio. After the civil unrest of the late 1960s, fewer shoppers patronized downtown shopping districts in general, and that also affected the Himelhoch’s™ downtown store. Chuck Himelhoch explained that Himelhoch’s™ became “over-stored for the trading area.” With the same or even fewer customers dispersed across several locations, Himelhoch’s™ could no longer maintain a deep inventory of luxury items or even take risks stocking edgier trendsetting fashions. Instead, the stores stocked what they knew would sell.

��� Israel Himelhoch and Charles Himelhoch at Himelhoch's Detroit.

Israel and Charles (Chuck) Himelhoch from Michigan Jewish History (Fall, 2009)

Next Page -> Personalities of the Himelhoch Brothers

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