Once he’d apprenticed with another merchant, Palmer opened his own place in 1848. It did well. But he kept looking for a bigger opportunity, for the store of his dreams.
Reading about the western frontier, Palmer struck out for Chicago with a $3,000 family loan.
This was his chance. To take advantage of it, Palmer tried strange new things:
- Ordering high-end, unique merchandise, much of it coming from Europe and Asia.
- Holding so-called “bargain days,” cutting regular prices (the first “sales”).
- Hiring well-spoken clerks who remembered customers’ names and preferences. He also let people browse, inventing the concept of “shopping.”
- Fulfilling special requests, including home deliveries and special orders.
- Offering the first money-back guarantee.
—Adapted from “He Put The Luxury In Retail,” Joanne Von Alroth, Investor’s Business Daily.