Samuel Henry Kress founded S. H. Kress Stores in Natchez, Mississippi in 1896. At its peak, it had over 300 stores in more than 30 states. At that time, they provided real competition to Woolworth’s.
The first Kress store called the Kress & Co. Five and Ten Cent Store. The store was a success, and Kress quickly expanded his chain to other cities in Mississippi and across the South. In 1907, Kress opened his first store in Memphis, Tennessee, and continued to expand his chain across the country.
Kress Stores were known for their distinctive architecture, with many of the stores featuring ornate facades, intricate details, and bright colors. Most have been re-purposed and still stand today. Kress Stores also offered a wide range of merchandise, including clothing, housewares, toys, and jewelry, at affordable prices.
During the Great Depression, Kress Stores struggled financially, but the company was able to weather the storm thanks to its diversified product offerings and its focus on low prices. In the 1940s and 1950s, Kress Stores continued to expand, with the company opening stores in new markets and introducing new product lines.
Chain of Owners
However, by the 1960s, Kress Stores began to face increasing competition from discount retailers like Walmart and Kmart. In 1964, the company was acquired by Genesco, a diversified retail company that operated a variety of specialty stores.
Here is a brief timeline of Kress Stores ownership over time:
1896: Samuel H. Kress founds the first Kress store in Natchez, Mississippi.
1912: The first Kress store outside of the South opens in Detroit, Michigan.
1926: Kress Stores becomes a publicly traded company.
1955: Samuel Henry Kress dies.
1964: Kress Stores is acquired by Genesco, a diversified retail company.
1980: Genesco begins to divest its retail holdings and sells Kress Stores to Adler & Shaykin.
1985: Adler & Shaykin sells Kress Stores to McCrory Stores.
1989: McCrory Stores files for bankruptcy, and Kress Stores is sold to TG&Y, a subsidiary of the Dayton Hudson Corporation.
1990: Dayton Hudson rebrands Kress Stores as Target stores and converts many Kress locations into Target stores.
1996: The last Kress Store location in El Paso, Texas, closes its doors.
End of an Era
Under Genesco’s ownership, Kress Stores began to shift its focus towards more upscale merchandise and closed many of its smaller, less profitable stores. By the 1970s, Kress Stores had evolved into a chain of high-end department stores, with locations in major cities across the country.
In the 1980s, Genesco began to divest its retail holdings, and Kress Stores was sold to several different owners over the next decade. However, the chain struggled to compete in an increasingly crowded retail market, and the last Kress Stores closed their doors in the mid 1990s.
- Year Started: 1896
- Year Ended: 1996
- Origin Of Name: Name of Founder
- Location Sales: United States
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Samuel H. Kress
- Owner While In Use: Several
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Amazon
- Naics Code: 455219
- Location Headquarters: Natchez, Mississippi, USA