Business: Wm. H. Block and Company
Date of Ad: August 15, 1926
Location: Block’s Department Store, Southwest corner of Market and Illinois, downtown Indianapolis
Years of Operation: 1874-1987
Notable: While strolling the cavernous expanses of the new Meijer store on Keystone Avenue, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed. Acres of florescent lit floor-space serves as a beacon for shoppers to peruse hardware, clothing and groceries in one location, but this is hardly a new concept. The William H. Block Company opened their massive new department store in 1911 right across from the Traction Terminal. From the get go, groceries were part of the equation, with the entire fifth floor being dedicated to culinary delights.
Block’s became part of Federated’s Lazarus chain in 1987. The downtown store was scaled back to three floors before closing in 1993. In 2003, the building reopened featuring condominiums on the upper floors and a T.J. Maxx department store on the ground floor. The public lobby features art-deco escalators and mirrors that were part of the store’s 1926 remodeling and expansion.
Additionally: Another Indy retail giant revived the one-stop shopping concept some thirty years later than this ad. Ayr-Way stores began popping up in 1961. The concept, created by L. S. Ayres and Company, featured a large discount department store and attached grocery. At the peak, the chain had locations in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky including eleven stores in Indianapolis. The company sold in 1980 and the department stores were gradually converted to Target locations. Many of the grocery stores became Preston Safeway locations. The one-stop shopping concept returned in 1994 when Meijer opened their first Indy store. It continues today through Meijer, Target Superstores, and others.
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