Rich's was a department store
Department store
A department store is a retail establishment which satisfies a wide range of the consumer's personal and residential durable goods product needs; and at the same time offering the consumer a choice of multiple merchandise lines, at variable price points, in all product categories...

 retail chain, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...

, that operated in the southern U.S. from 1867 until March 6, 2005 when the nameplate was eliminated and replaced by Macy's
Macy's is a U.S. chain of mid-to-high range department stores. In addition to its flagship Herald Square location in New York City, the company operates over 800 stores in the United States...

. Many of the former Rich's stores today form the core of Macy's Central, an Atlanta-based division of Macy's, Inc., which formerly operated as Federated Department Stores, Inc.


It began in Atlanta as M. Rich Dry Goods general store
General store
A general store, general merchandise store, or village shop is a rural or small town store that carries a general line of merchandise. It carries a broad selection of merchandise, sometimes in a small space, where people from the town and surrounding rural areas come to purchase all their general...

 in 1867. The store was at 36 Whitehall Street, and was run by Morris Rich. It was renamed M. Rich & Co. in 1871, when his brother Emanuel joined him; it was again renamed M. Rich & Bros. in 1876 when the third brother Daniel
Daniel Rich
Daniel Rich is a current Australian rules football player for the Brisbane Lions. He was selected with the Brisbane Lions' first selection in the 2008 National Draft.-Pre-AFL career:...

 joined. In 1872 it moved across the street
A street is a paved public thoroughfare in a built environment. It is a public parcel of land adjoining buildings in an urban context, on which people may freely assemble, interact, and move about. A street can be as simple as a level patch of dirt, but is more often paved with a hard, durable...

 to the corner with Hunter Street (now MLK
MLK may refer to:*Martin Luther King, Jr. , American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African American civil rights movement...

 Street), and in 1881 to 54 and 56 Whitehall Street, later adding 52 in 1906. In 1901 it became a true department store by dividing merchandise into separated sections, and was incorporated as M. Rich & Bros. Co. It became simply Rich's in 1924. Two innovative ideas that Rich tried were the barter system and a credit system

Daniel's son Walter succeeded his uncle Morris as Rich's president
A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

 from 1926 to 1947, and was succeeded by the grandson of Morris Rich Richard H. Rich. Under the leadership of Richard Rich, affectionately known as Dick Rich, Rich's began expansion in the 1950s. Rich's had moved outside the Atlanta area for its first new store in 1955 when a store in Knoxville
Knoxville, Tennessee
Founded in 1786, Knoxville is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, U.S.A., behind Memphis and Nashville, and is the county seat of Knox County. It is the largest city in East Tennessee, and the second-largest city in the Appalachia region...

Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 was opened. Rich's opened its first suburb
The word suburb mostly refers to a residential area, either existing as part of a city or as a separate residential community within commuting distance of a city . Some suburbs have a degree of administrative autonomy, and most have lower population density than inner city neighborhoods...

an store at Lenox Square
Lenox Square
Lenox Square is an upscale enclosed super regional shopping mall located in the Buckhead District of Atlanta, Georgia. Lenox Square comprises more than of retail space, with 250 stores on four levels, including a large food court. The mall is home to three anchor stores: Macy's, Bloomingdale's,...

 in 1959, Georgia's first shopping mall
Shopping mall
A shopping mall, shopping centre, shopping arcade, shopping precinct or simply mall is one or more buildings forming a complex of shops representing merchandisers, with interconnecting walkways enabling visitors to easily walk from unit to unit, along with a parking area — a modern, indoor version...

. The open-air mall shared space with the other major Atlanta department store, Davison's
Davison's of Atlanta was the major competition to Rich's, once itself an Atlanta shopping institution. The chain took the Macy's name in 1986.-Founding:...

. That same year Rich's also opened a store at Belvedere Plaza
Belvedere Plaza
Belvedere Plaza Shopping Center, located in Belvedere Park at Memorial Dr and Columbia Dr., was one of the earliest malls in the Atlanta area. Opened around Labor Day in 1955, the center was an open-air strip with major retail anchors. It competed with Columbia Mall , which opened at the adjacent...

 Shopping Center, a large two-level strip mall in Belvedere Park
Belvedere Park, Georgia
Belvedere Park is a census-designated place in DeKalb County, Georgia, United States. The population was 15,152 at the 2010 census.-Geography:Belvedere Park is located at .It is bordered by:...

 near Decatur
Decatur, Georgia
Decatur is a city in, and county seat of, DeKalb County, Georgia, United States. With a population of 19,335 in the 2010 census, the city is sometimes assumed to be larger since multiple zip codes in unincorporated DeKalb County bear the Decatur name...

 and more recently famous for its "wigs and beepers" store. Rich's sold off its Knoxville store to Miller's, as it re-focused on its Georgia stores.

Holiday traditions

Two holiday traditions associated with Rich's were the Great Tree and the Pink Pig. Starting in 1947, the Great Tree, conceptualized by executive Frank Pallotta, was a massive pine, set on top of the multi-level glass skybridge
Skybridge may refer to:* an alternate term for skyway.* The bridge named Skybridge in Vancouver, Canada.* The bridge named Skye Bridge in Britain.* The bridge named Langkawi Sky Bridge in Malaysia.* The Skybridge Building in Chicago, United States....

 connecting the main downtown Atlanta store with the Store For Homes across Forsyth Street. After the closure of the downtown store in 1991, the Great Tree, and the annual Thanksgiving evening tree-lighting festivities, moved to nearby Underground Atlanta
Underground Atlanta
Underground Atlanta is a shopping and entertainment district in the Five Points neighborhood of downtown Atlanta, Georgia, United States, near the intersection of the east and west MARTA rail lines. First opened in 1969, it takes advantage of the viaducts built over the city's many railroad tracks...

. After several years of poor attendance, the Tree was moved to the top of the Men's Store at the Lenox Square location. This placed the tree on the corner of the mall closest to the prominent intersection of Peachtree and Lenox Roads. The tree lighting ceremony traditionally features country and pop music performers from Georgia, such as Kenny Rogers
Kenny Rogers
Kenneth Donald "Kenny" Rogers is an American singer-songwriter, photographer, record producer, actor, and entrepreneur...

, several choirs from local churches, and a rendition of "O Holy Night
O Holy Night
"O Holy Night" is a well-known Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem "Minuit, chrétiens" by Placide Cappeau , a wine merchant and poet, who had been asked by a parish priest to write a Christmas poem...

" with the tree being lit by a child during the high note of the line "O night divine."

The Pink Pig was a child-scaled monorail that originally circled the toy department in the downtown Store for Homes. After several years, it was moved to the roof of the Store For Homes building. The front car of the train had a pig's face, and the last car had a curly tail. The original train featured Priscilla Pig, while a second train added to the track was named Percival. For many years after the closure of the downtown store, the Pink Pig was set up at the Festival of Trees at the Georgia World Congress Center. During the Rich's-Macy's era, in an effort to show respect for the traditions of Rich's, a redesigned Pink Pig, this time a child-sized train rather than a monorail, was set up on the top level of a parking deck at Lenox Square mall under an enormous pink tent. The train ride takes children (and adults, who can now fit) through a storybook tale of Priscilla Pig. The original Pink Pig monorail cars are now at the Atlanta History Center
Atlanta History Center
The Atlanta History Center is a history museum located in the Buckhead district of Atlanta, Georgia. The Museum was founded in 1926, and currently consists of 12 exhibits. There are also historic gardens and houses located on the grounds, including the Swan House and Tullie Smith Farm...

 where they are occasionally displayed.

Dear Store

In 1967, Atlanta Constitution
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is the only major daily newspaper in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, and its suburbs. The AJC, as it is called, is the flagship publication of Cox Enterprises. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is the result of the merger between The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta...

 columnist Celestine Sibley wrote Dear Store: An Affectionate Portrait of Rich's. In it, she mentioned notable acts by Rich's staff and management, including the cashing of scrip payments made by the City of Atlanta to its schoolteachers during a financial crisis, accepting returns of worn nylons during World War II shortages, and the efforts of their personal shopper service, "Penelope Penn," to find the perfect gift for thousands of customers who wrote to them. The title of the book comes from a letter in which a child offers to trade his younger sister for a toy that he wants.

The book also relates the story of Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King was an American author, activist, and civil rights leader. The widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King helped lead the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.Mrs...

, who chose to shop at Rich's for a coat when her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

. The salesperson advised Mrs. King not to buy a fur, because it would compare unfavorably to the extravagant furs worn by the Scandinavian attendees, instead selecting a conservative cloth coat for the occasion.


Rich's most aggressive expansion was during the 1960s and 1970s. Four more stores opened in the Atlanta area in the 1960s, two of those enormous three story full line stores. While this expansion resulted in continued success of the chain, it chipped away at the business of the downtown store. By this time, Rich's was the leading regional department store in the country, though it remained largely unknown by the general public outside of Georgia. This would soon change, however.

Throughout the 1970s, four more Rich's locations opened in Georgia including one in Augusta
Augusta, Georgia
Augusta is a consolidated city in the U.S. state of Georgia, located along the Savannah River. As of the 2010 census, the Augusta–Richmond County population was 195,844 not counting the unconsolidated cities of Hephzibah and Blythe.Augusta is the principal city of the Augusta-Richmond County...

, the first in the state outside of Atlanta. Rich's also began an aggressive expansion with stores in Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

 and South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

. Also, there were plans much later in the early 1990s to expand Rich's into Charlotte
- CHARLOTTE :CHARLOTTE is an American blues-based hard rock band that formed in Los Angeles, California in 1986. Currently, they are signed to indie label, Eonian Records, under which they released their debut cd, Medusa Groove, in 2010. Notable Charlotte songs include 'Siren', 'Little Devils',...

, but these were scrapped. Of all the stores out of state, stores opened in Greenville, Columbia and Birmingham with two (adding a third in 1986) in Birmingham, creating stiffer competition in the city against regional chains Pizitz
Pizitz was a major regional department store chain in Alabama, with its flagship store in downtown Birmingham. At its peak it operated 12 other stores, mostly in the Birmingham area with several locations in Huntsville and other Alabama cities....

, Loveman's
Loveman's of Alabama
Loveman's of Alabama was a Birmingham, Alabama-based chain of department stores with locations across Alabama. It adopted this name to distinguish it from Loveman's department stores operating in Chattanooga, Tennessee and in Nashville, Tennessee.-History :...

 and Parisian. This expansion also strained the company financially, and the sudden death of Richard Rich in 1975 threw the company into turmoil. It was rumored that the surviving descendants were incapable of running the company, and the store was ultimately sold out to Federated Department Stores (now known as Macy's, Inc.).


The sale to Federated ended over 100 years of ownership by the Rich family. Aside from the Great Tree, most of the traditions of Rich's and the departments (including the bakery) were all stripped away by the early 1990s. Loyalty
Loyalty is faithfulness or a devotion to a person, country, group, or cause There are many aspects to...

 to the chain, however, remained very strong even after the downtown flagship
A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, reflecting the custom of its commander, characteristically a flag officer, flying a distinguishing flag...

 store was closed in 1991.

In 1994, the parent company of Rich's bought out Macy's
Macy's is a U.S. chain of mid-to-high range department stores. In addition to its flagship Herald Square location in New York City, the company operates over 800 stores in the United States...

, which was historically Atlanta's rival chain under the Davison's banner. The following year, Rich's was merged with Lazarus
Lazarus (department store)
F&R Lazarus & Company — commonly known as Lazarus — was a regional department store retail chain operating primarily in the U.S. Midwest, and based in Columbus, Ohio...

 in the midwest and Goldsmith's
Goldsmith's was a department store founded in Memphis, Tennessee in 1870 by German immigrant brothers Jacob and Isaac Goldsmith. With a $500 investment, they opened a dry goods store on a muddy lane called Beale Street. It grew into a chain largely located in the Memphis metropolitan area, until...

 in Memphis. Through the merged division, the chain grew in a corporate sense as it was operated out of Atlanta, but the Lazarus and Goldsmith's stores continued to operate under their regional names. The merger with Goldsmith's occurred in 1988 and Lazarus in 1995. Lazarus was one of Federated's founding store chains.

Closures of Davison's/Macy's stores

When Rich's and Macy's both were owned by the same company, this resulted in the overlapping of the two chains all selling the same products. Initially, both stores remained open with Macy's losing its higher-end merchandise and becoming distinctly downmarket when compared with Rich's. The decision was made in 2003 to close all of the former Davison's/Macy's stores in Atlanta (no new Macy's stores had been built in Atlanta since Town Center at Cobb in 1986) and co-brand Rich's as Rich's-Macy's. The only original Macy's/Davison's store to remain open is Northlake Mall - originally the downtown Atlanta store was to remain open, but a sudden change of direction by Macy's corporate closed the last major retailer in downtown Atlanta. The cobranded name change was intended to slowly phase out the chain instead of a sudden change so as to reduce the backlash over the elimination of an Atlanta institution that was one of the institutions that defined the city, similar to Marshall Field's
Marshall Field's
Marshall Field & Company was a department store in Chicago, Illinois that grew to become a major chain before being acquired by Macy's Inc...

 in Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

. As Macy's was a well-known part of the Atlanta retail landscape since its purchase of Davison's in the 1920s, loyal Rich's customers who defected to other stores were replaced by longtime Macy's/Davison's customers.
The same year that Rich's and Macy's merged, the downtown Macy's (Davison's flagship store) was closed down. Also in the merger, the Lenox Square
Lenox Square
Lenox Square is an upscale enclosed super regional shopping mall located in the Buckhead District of Atlanta, Georgia. Lenox Square comprises more than of retail space, with 250 stores on four levels, including a large food court. The mall is home to three anchor stores: Macy's, Bloomingdale's,...

 and Perimeter Mall
Perimeter Mall
Perimeter Mall is a super-regional shopping mall in Dunwoody, Georgia, just north of Atlanta, near the highway interchange of Interstate 285 and Georgia 400....

 Macy's (also former Davison's) became Bloomingdale's
Bloomingdale's is an American department store owned by Macy's, Inc. .Bloomingdale's started in 1861 when brothers Joseph and Lyman G. Bloomingdale started selling hoop-skirts in their Ladies Notions' Shop on Manhattan's Lower East Side...

 with the rest closed except for the Town Center Mall store, whose middle floor is now used as a Macy's Furniture store and also the upper floor is now used as a Macy's Furniture Clearance Center and the lower floor is now used as a Macy's Men's Store. The following year, when the Cobb Center Mall
Cobb Center Mall
Cobb Center Mall is a shopping mall in Smyrna, Georgia, United States. It was the second mall built in Georgia, and opened on August 15, 1963.-Early years:...

 store closed, the furniture clearance
A closeout or clearance is the final sale of an item or items to zero inventory. It may be a given model of item that is not selling well, or in the case of the final closure of a retailer because of a relocation, a fire , or especially because of a bankruptcy. In the latter case, it is usually...

 center was also relocated there.

In 1995, the downtown Atlanta Rich's store became part of the Sam Nunn Federal Building. The Store For Homes, the "Crystal Bridge," and a parking deck were torn down and replaced by a high-rise, a small building containing a McDonald's and other retail space, and a more substantial connector between the high-rise and the original 1924 Rich's building. The top floor of the 1924 building, a later addition of concrete and glass block not in the style of the original, was removed. An addition in the style of the original was built on the corner of Forsyth and Old Alabama Streets, which had been a park and previously the location of the offices of the The Atlanta Journal before its merger with The Atlanta Constitution.

Name changes

After 138 years, Rich's (as Rich's-Macy's) disappeared on March 6, 2005 along with the other historical nameplates "Goldsmith-Macy's", and "Lazarus-Macy's" were eliminated, with the stores renamed as the Macy's
Macy's is a U.S. chain of mid-to-high range department stores. In addition to its flagship Herald Square location in New York City, the company operates over 800 stores in the United States...

 Central division of Federated. Macy's Central is the current division encompassing the former Rich's stores. A signature event of the store, Rich's Great Tree
Rich's Great Tree
The Rich's Great Tree, now the Macy's Great Tree , is a large tall cut pine Christmas tree that has been an Atlanta tradition since 1948. -History:...

, continues as an annual Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Day is a holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada. Thanksgiving is celebrated each year on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. In Canada, Thanksgiving falls on the same day as Columbus Day in the...

 event in Atlanta at the Lenox location. The "Crystal Bridge" connecting the two halves of flagship
A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, reflecting the custom of its commander, characteristically a flag officer, flying a distinguishing flag...

Downtown is a term primarily used in North America by English speakers to refer to a city's core or central business district ....

 Atlanta store it earlier took place on was destroyed as part of converting the site to the Sam Nunn Federal Building complex. The tradition ironically continues as simply the "Great Tree", ignoring the name of the store that made the tradition famous. All former Rich's today continue to operate under the Macy's banner. Its Richway
Richway Department Stores
Richway was the discount department store division of Atlanta-based Rich's. It was originally part of Rich's, and was later bought by Federated Department Stores when they purchased the Rich's chain. It was originally known as Richway, a Rich's Company with a more bluish logo than the later...

 discount store
Discount store
A discount store is a type of department store, which sells products at prices lower than those asked by traditional retail outlets. Most discount department stores offer a wide assortment of goods; others specialize in such merchandise as jewelry, electronic equipment, or electrical appliances...

 chain, founded in 1968, was sold in 1988 to what is now Target Stores.

Morris, Walter,Daniel and Dick Rich are all buried at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta.

External links

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