Gilmore Brothers, Kalamazoo, Michigan

The oldest part of Gilmore's fronted on Burdick
Street, and became part of the store's "Mall
Boutiques" after 1959

Gilmores expanded with Kalamazoo's growth by
building a large six-story building facing Farmer
Street and connected to its older space on Burdick

Five sections of the Burdick street building became
"Mall Boutiques." These facades were replaced by a
sterile, box-like modern facade in the 1980s

Gilmore Brothers
Kalamazoo Mall
143 South Burdick Street
Kalamazoo, Michigan


Gilmore's Basement Store

Main Floor
Fine Jewelry • Costume Jewelry • Handbags • Small Leather Goods • Gloves • Neckwear • Heavenly Hair Creations • Accessories • Hosiery • Cosmetics • Lingerie • Blouses • Main Floor Sportswear • Cards 'N Things • Candy • Gourmet Shop
Mall Boutiques Men's Store • Young Men's Shop • Ice Cream Parlor • Trim-the-Home Shop • Toy Store • Campus Shop

Second Floor
Dresses • Coats • Suits • Sportswear • Queen Size • Beter Dresses • Contempo • The Place • California Shop • Furs • Bridal • Millinery • Shoe Salon
A Place of Your Own Junior Sportswear • Junior Dresses • Junior Coats

Third Floor
Lingerie • Leisurewear • Foundations • Fabrics • Art Needlework • Bedding • Bath Shop • Linens • Closet Shop

Fourth Floor
China • Glassware • Silverware • Gifts • Lamps • Pictures • Draperies • Carpets • Housewares • Hostess Shop

Fifth Floor
Infants' Shop • Toddlers' Shop • Girls' Shop • Co-Ed • Boy's Shop • Children's Shoes • Gilmore's Tea Room • Executive Offices • Customer Service • Credit Office • Cashier

BRANCH STORES (Through 1980)

Maple Hill Mall (10.1972)

Southland (08.1974)
Portage, Michigan


  1. The flagship store was damaged by a tornado in May of 1980, and I believe a small renovation was done as a result. The store lasted a few decades beyond most, but finally closed in either 1999 or 2000. Their building has been torn down now as well. Sad that such a great local institution couldn't survive into the 21st century. Small-town America needs these kinds of places now more than ever, and certainly more than another box like Wal-Mart and their brethren.

  2. I don't believe the store was torn down, just remodeled beyond recognition.

  3. The front portion of the store downtown was torn down. Developer did do a nice job recreating the original store front though when creating the new half containing the restaurants. For fun go to the back of the building and look at the is the same, and the elevators remain.

  4. Gilmore's was an anchor for Kalamazoo's unique downtown pedestrian mall. It ran the "free if you buy something" parking lot which also hosted rooftop concerts. Kalamazoo kept its downtown retail vibrant against conventional malls longer than most.

    Jacobson's also had a downtown store.

  5. I worked as a window display assistant at Gilmore Brothers (est. 1888) in the late 1960s-early 70s. It was my first job in a creative field, and I loved it. All the display windows in the arcade, The Men's Store and Ice Cream Parlor, plus a Womens Store across the mall kept Clarence Engle, the display Manager and myself busy year-round. Irving Gilmore, the last of the Gilmore Brothers' second generation, was a remarkably distinguished man who kept alive the old-fashioned ideals of a traditional department store. There is a foundation in his name.

    1. I too worked during that time also on the Fashion Board Insites and behind the counter, my Mother Nina Clark retired from Gilmore Brothers. Mr. Gilmore was so kind and considerate. It was an honor working for this company this Gentleman.

  6. The Tea Room had the best chicken salad I have ever tasted, even to this day! I was born and raised in Portage and in the 1950's my sister and I would "go into town" on Saturdays for shopping, a movie at the State Theatre and always, lunch at Gilmores for their chicken salad...all dressed up in our finest.

  7. I worked at a finance office located just to the left of the main store entrance in 1964. Our front door opened to the mall and a small outdoor dinning area. One day about 2pm I came back to the office, Mr gilmore and Mr disney were setting there, when people noticed them they followed me up into our office, and left throught a private door into the store which we thought was a closet because it was always. locked

  8. Was there ever a Chicago store? I thought that I remembered a family member working there

  9. I remember my times at Gilmore's when I was a little girl and a teenager growing up in Kalamazoo. My friends and I adored Gilmore's and all the special areas like the boutique, the back alley, etc. that we frequented so, so much growing up. My mother was a regular shopper here and except for not remembering if the candy counter was nearest the front door or if it was the cosmetic counter, so many things are forever imprinted in my memory...the sounds, the smells, the emotions. As a young girl I adored the dreamy front window displays and remember how well they used colored lighting to show off all the pretty things to great effect. My friends and I went through all phases of shopping here...first the toy shop and children's section with our parents, the toy store later on, the first Bobbie Brooks sweaters as the years continued, first bras being fitted, and later wedding china and finery. One of my fondest memories was on the second floor in the better dress area. My mother was selecting new dresses for herself and I wandered over to a far corner where a display held the most magnificent (to my young eyes) velvet evening capes. I remember to this day how the midnight blue velvet cape, the one with the "diamond" clasp held my gaze and I just knew that someday I would grow up and purchase this cape and wear it to all the fine places I would surely go as a grand lady. I, of course, am wearing sweats and a tee shirt as I type this, and my life is far from grand, but the memory has never faded nor ever wavered in it's beauty. In fact, I actually had tears in my eyes last September 2013. My son and his new bride chose "Gilmore's" as the site for their wedding reception...the second floor...the section of better dresses, bridal, and the beautiful midnight velvet cape! They list it now as CityScapes, and the merchandise and window diplays and cosmetic and candy counters are long gone...but the memories are as alive to me as ever. I wish I could go back, just for one wednesday night or saturday afternoon, or with my mom or my that most wonderful of stores, ever...Gilmore Brothers Department Store.

  10. Currently, I am working in one of the office spaces. In the mid 1980's, I worked at Gilmore's in the lingerie department. I would love to see floor plans as I walk around, I think this was shoes, this was the tea room, here was cosmetics, etc. I know it has been remodeled, but I am still curious.

  11. My grandparents lived in Kalamazoo in the 1950-1978 era and one of my fondest memories (besides Bronson Park at Christmas) was, as a little girl, dressing up for lunch at Gilmore’s - such a lovely treat - anyone else remember the fish pond? Going back as a teenager and then adult to shop was total bliss. Watched the tornado damage on the news and was heartbroken. Kalamazoo was the loveliest place to grow up.

    1. I'm reminiscing today. Grew up in Kalamazoo during1950s. Loved Christmas at Bronson Park and attended Methodist Church. Such fond memories of Gilmores and dressing up for tea room.


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