I. Magnin & Co., San Francisco, California

Anne Evers Hitz has followed up on her excellent book
on The Emporium with this new one - that chronicles
the history of San Francisco's other stores.

I. Magnin relocated to its luxurious marble palace on
Union Square in 1948 from and older facility.

I. Magnin & Co.
135 Sockton Street
San Francisco, California


Receiving and Marking • Storage

Employee Lockers • Auditorium • Display Department

Street Floor
Leykin et Cie at I. Magnin • Jewelry • Handbags • Little Leathers • Gloves • Umbrellas • Louis Vuitton Boutique • Hermès Boutique • Fendi • St. Laurent/Rive Gauche • Fashion Accessories • The Hat Bar • Hosiery
The Mural Room Cosmetics • Perfumes • Cosmetic Gifts
Man's Shop
Blum's Blum's Restaurant • Blum's Candies and Pastries

Gift Galleries • Linens • Stationery • Card Carousel • The Elegant Grocery • Fauchon • International Gallery of Art • Charles of the Ritz Beauty Salon

Second Floor
Millinery Salon • Fine Shoe Salon • Negligée Room • Corset Salon • At-Home Salon

Third Floor
Fine Coat Salon • Suits • Fine Dress Salon • Inner Circle • Designer Sportswear • Custom Salon • Fur Salon • Bridal Salon • Dresses • After-Five Dress Collection

Fourth Floor
Sports Shop • Sports Dresses • Stanley's Place • Active Sportswear • European Designer Sportswear • American Designer Sportswear

Fifth Floor
Meyda Shop • Casual Shoes • Shoe Biz
Ranleigh Shop Dresses • Coats • Sportswear • Suits • Hats • Shoes

Sixth Floor
Marima Marima Dresses • Marima Sportswear • Marima Coats • Marima Shoes • Marima Lingerie

Seventh Floor
Children's Shop • Children's Shoes • Hi Shop • Toy Box

Eighth Floor
I. Magnin Travel • Executive Offices

Ninth Floor
Work Rooms • Alterations

Tenth Floor
Employees Cafeteria • Employees Lounge • Sun Deck • Nurse's Office


Oakland (1925/1931)
Broadway and Twentieth Streets
65,000 sq. ft.

Palo Alto (1956)
Stanford Shopping Center
54,000 sq. ft.

Carmel (1960)
Carmel Plaza
Ocean Ave. at Juniper St.

Santa Clara (1964)
32,000 sq. ft.

San Mateo (1965)
27,000 sq. ft.

Walnut Creek (1967)
56,000 sq. ft.

San Jose (1967)
Vallco Fashion Park
56,000 sq. ft.


Los Angeles
3240 Wilshire Blvd. at Hamshire
Los Angeles, California
141,000 sq. ft.


Street Floor
Leykin et Cie at I. Magnin • Jewelry • Handbags • Little Leathers • Gloves • Umbrellas • Louis Vuitton Boutique • Hermès Boutique • Fendi • St. Laurent/Rive Gauche • Fine Shoe Salon • Fashion Accessories • The Hat Bar • Hosiery • Cosmetics • Perfumes • Cosmetic Gifts • Gift Galleries • Linens • Stationery • Card Carousel • Negligée Room • Corset Salon • At-Home Salon • Man's Shop

Second Floor
Millinery Salon • Bridal Salon • International Gallery of Art • Fur Salon • Dresses • After-Five Dress Collection • Fine Coat Salon • Suits • Fine Dress Salon • Inner Circle • Designer Sportswear • Custom Salon

Third Floor
Meyda Shop • Casual Shoes • Shoe Biz • The Woman's Shop
Miss Magnin Shop Miss Magnin Today • Miss Magnin Tonight
Ranleigh Shop Dresses • Coats • Sportswear • Suits • Hats • Shoes
Marima Marima Dresses • Marima Sportswear • Marima Coats • Marima Shoes • Marima Lingerie
Children's Shop • Children's Shoes • Hi Shop • Toy Box

Fourth Floor
Sports Shop • Sports Dresses • Stanley's Place • Active Sportswear • European Designer Sportswear • American Designer Sportswear • Blum's Restaurant • Blum's Candies and Pastries • The Elegant Grocery • Fauchon • I. Magnin Travel • Charles of the Ritz Beauty Salon

Hollywood (1923)
6340 Hollywood Blvd.

Beverly Hills (1942/1947)
Wilshire Blvd. and Bedford Dr.
99,000 sq. ft.

Santa Barbara (1912/1918/1923/1947)
1415 State Street
24,000 sq. ft.

Pasadena (1913/1932/1947)
3247 Lake Avenue
41,000 sq. ft.

Sacramento (1953)
1125 L. Street
3,000 sq. ft.

La Jolla (1954/1964)
Girard Avenue
29,000 sq. ft.

Fresno (1955)
1630-32 Van Ness Avenue
17,000 sq. ft.

Santa Ana (1958)
Fashion Square
N. Main Street and Roe Dr.
42,000 sq. ft.

Sherman Oaks (1962)
Fashion Square
Riverside Drive
55,000 sq. ft.

Palm Springs (1965)
24,000 sq. ft.

Del Amo Fashion Square (1967)
25,000 sq. ft.

South Coast Plaza (1978)
Costa Mesa
78,000 sq. ft.


Seattle, Washington (1925/1954)
Sixth and Pine
80,000 sq. ft.

Portland, Oregon (1962)
Public Service Building
S.W. Sixth Ave. at Salmon St.
33,000 sq. ft.

Phoenix, Arizona (1963)
Biltmore Fashion Park

Chicago, Illinois (1971)
830 North Michigan Avenue


First Floor

Leykin et Cie at I. Magnin • Fashion Jewelry • Handbags • Little Leathers • Gloves • Umbrellas • Fashion Accessories • The Hat Bar • Sports Separates • Hosiery • Cosmetics • Gift Galleries • Linens • Bath Shop • Stationery • Card Carousel • Fauchon Shop • Christmas All-Through-the House • International Gallery of Art
The Man's Shop

Second Floor
Millinery Salon • Bridal Salon • Fur Salon • Fur Boutique • Fine Coat Salon • Fine Dress Salon • Inner Circle • Designer Boutique • Valentino Boutique • Saint Laurent/Rive Gauche • Fine Shoe Salon

Third Floor
Lingerie Salon • Bodyfashions • At-Home Salon • Career Shop • The Woman's Shop
Miss Magnin Miss Magnin Sportswear • Miss Magnin Spectator Dresses • Miss Magnin Coats • Miss Magnin Today • Miss Magnin Tonight • Miss Magnin Shoes

Fourth Floor
Sports Shop • Designer Sportswear • European Designer Sportswear • Active Sportswear • Beauty Salon • Shear Heaven

Fifth Floor
Shoe Biz • Children's Shop • Children's Shoes • I. Magnin Hi Shop • Toy Box
Miss Magnin Junior Dresses • Coats • Sportswear • Contemporary Sportswear • Lingerie

White Flint, Maryland (1978)
White Flint Mall
81,000 sq. ft.

Northbrook Court (1979)
Northbrook, Illinois
100,000 sq. ft.


  1. There was also an I. Magnin in Maryland, at White Flint Mall in suburban Washington, DC

  2. I Magnin was my first job working on Howard in the credit/billing department. Everything was done by hand back then. This was an education in dressing, and lasts to present day. STYLE!

  3. I. Magnin had its own understated style. You could just look at someone and spot that style. When I lived in the San Francisco area in the 1970's, I. Magnin was one of my favorite stores. It always SMELLED so good! In my opinion, Macy's should have kept and expanded the I. Magnin stores instead of hitching their wagon to Bloomingdale's. I. Magnin had a cachet that Bloomingdale's will never have.

  4. Also, there was a suburban Chicago branch at Oakbrook Center.

    1. Yea I worked in the hair salon in I magnin in 1986-1989. I went back to visit a few years ago and can't even picture where the store use to be? Things have changed so much! Does anyone know what store now is in the old I magnin building?

  5. While its true that I Magnin had a chachet that Bloomingdale's does not, these are two very different establishments. Bloomingdale's still fits into a modern world, I Magnin could not fit into today's world. As an example, the I Magnin in LaJolla (by the early 80's) was falling apart. There was no chachet there from 1980 till its closing.

  6. I disagree with Anonymous. I Magnin did indeed have a certain elegance and class that Bloomingdales just does not capture. The same can be said of Bullocks Wilshire. Bloomingdales cannot hold a candle to it.

  7. I Manin in LaJolla was a beautiful store "in its day"...if the corporate owner had ungraded and spent money there...it would have remained a beautiful store. But they did not. Rather than one very nice store, they closed Bullock's Whilshire and changed its name to I Magnin at the nearby mall. At the other end of the mall was a May Co store. People who shopped in May Co did not shop in I Magnin (nor Bullock's Whilshire)..... couldn't the owners have figured that one out? AN I Magnin and a Saks, Neiman Marcus or Bullock Wilshire would have complimented each other.

  8. anonymous misses the point. Bloomingdale's has always been crass...it fits in perfectly with today's world. I Magnin fits into an old world now long gone.

  9. There is most definitely a place for I. Magnin in today's retail world... I'd go so far as to say the problem with retail today is the absence of stores with a point of view. Magnin's lost its way due to corporate muddle. Had it remained true to its roots, it would still be here today.

  10. Bergdorf Goodman and to some degree Saks is to me the closest reminder to I. Magnin and Bullocks Wilshire. It has its own signature, an air of sophistication. You know you have stepped in somewhere special. I Magnin closed in a low point in the economy. I bet it could have really prospered in the later part of the 1990's into about 2007. Bloomingdales Lexington Av at least is very nice. But it is no I Magnin.

  11. Yesterday I was at the Natura spa in LA in the old I Magnin building, the inside is still beautiful and elegant. Made me want to see vintage photos, thanks for putting this site together.

  12. I worked in the Laykin et Cie jewelry salon at the La Jolla I. Magnin's in the early 80's. The clothes were and still are timeless. I have several sweaters and suits from that era, that I still wear and get complimented on them always. One is a brown wool suit by Oscar de la Renta for I. Magnin. I paid a (then) fortune for it on sale with my discount--nearly $800! But It has stood the test of time. Lovely and timeless classics, which no one seems to understand today. This was around the time Federated bought the store, and they didn't care for anything but profit. Profit is necessary, but you need to build loyalty as well, and have a 'look' and great quality. When we were getting our Christmas deccos out of the attics one year (shortly before I left) we found a huge box of 'old' store decorations. All in shades of pastel mauve, lilac and silver. The store manager said to throw them out, but I asked if I could keep them. Still have them and they look as stunning as when they were new, 1942, according to the box! It was a stunning store, great fur salon, fragrance and housewares. Nothing like it today. Needless Mark-up doesn't hold a candle, especially not the snotty sales staff who act like they can afford the goods more than the customers!

  13. The one thing that Macys Inc, formerly Federated Dept Store group did was take away any competition, so whats left is Macys, Nordstroms and Sacks. Thank goodness for Sacks, where u can see how elegant a dept store can look, not jammed pack to the hilt like Macys and Bloomingdales. Please bring back the look of yesteryear of Bullocks or I Magnin.

  14. I worked at Magnin's flagship Union Square store during the early 70's. It was a wonderful place and a memorable experience. Without a doubt management and personnel were the personification of class and style - they believed in their high quality products and, uncommon in today's market, were actually knowledgeable about them. Also there was an uncommon grace, courtesy and professionalism among all employees that is sadly missing in today's retail experience. I Magnin remains an irreplaceable gem.

    1. I too worked at the Union Square store from 1971-1977. It was the most wonderful store. Like so many others, I miss the elegance, the customer service, the quality, etc. I rarely see anyone from that era. I met my husband there and just recently reconnected with a coworker. Not sure how or if you feel comfortable sharing your name. Just noticed your post was 10 years ago!

  15. It was a true gem, as you say.

    In the course of research for my book on Jacobson's, I discovered that at one piont, probably in the '80s, Jacobson's considered purchasing I. Magnin, in order to diversify away from the floundering Michigan economy (it still is). Instead, they decided to build stores in other states.

    I do not have a floor-by-floor directory for the San Francisco store; would a veteran employee such as yourself help me fill this gap in The Department Store Museum?


  16. Oh boy, would love to help but my memory is a little hazy plus I worked in the Men's Dept. I certainly don't have a listing like the L.A. directory.

    Before Magnin consolidated receiving and distribution in Brisbane the basement of the Union Square store housed shipping, receiving and department storage as well as display.

    The main floor housed men's, perfume, shoes, accessories and Godiva as well as the return and wrapping desk.

    The second floor and I believe the sixth housed offices as well as women's apparel.

    Third floor was haute couture designer fashion.

    Fourth floor was women's fashion.

    Seventh or eighth floor was household furnishings.

    And I remember the employee cafeteria I believe on the eighth. We all loved the fabulous food prepared on site, usually breakfast, which we paid for, then we would sit around talking or reading high-end novels such as Siddhartha. I believe you could also walk out on the roof to the parapet overlooking Union Square from the cafeteria. If I recall correctly there were also lounge chairs there for sunning.

    I am in touch with other assistant buyers and perhaps they can fill in the gaps particularly on the upper floors.

    This is a nice site and you've done a wonderful job putting it together.

  17. Thank you so very kindly for your help and memoirs!

    Between what you gave me, and a description of the store when new in 1948 from an old architecture magazine (quite a read!), I have been able to come up with a representative directory. Obviously things changed over time, and I would welcome any further information from people who knew I. Magnin well.

    Of course, if the San Francisco newspapers are ever placed online, it would be a treasure-trove; I could add City of Paris, The White House, and Hale's!


  18. Wow! Your 1948 Union Square directory jarred my memory (somewhat). By the early 70's there had been some changes made:

    • no auditorium in the basement - converted into caged departmental storage.

    • street floor - Blum's had moved further west into the Macy block but in its own small building.

    • Mezzanine - the beauty salon was big but the floor also housed Magnin's famous marble bathrooms.

    • 3,4,5 - same type merchandise but different names.

    • 7 - add housewares.

    • 8,9, and 10 were the same.

    nice work.

  19. what wonderful memories. I worked at the White Flint Mall store in the Fine Shoe Salon. I agree with dbcreates - I still have some clothing that at the time I too could hardly afford but am so glad that I did as they are still magnificent. I even have some of my old Ferragamo shoes! I had saved up for and purchased my daughter's (now 24 yrs. old) layette ensemble and also still have that stored away. It was a very classy store and was very much a "family" atmosphere among the employees.....which much "drama" as well!!!

  20. I Magnin was always very snooty.....the service at Saks was always perfect. That is why Saks is still with us.

  21. I grew up in Santa Rosa in the 60's/70's, and I am surprised there is no mention of the Magnin Stores in my hometown. Maybe there are no archived photos? We had a Joseph Magnin, and an I.Magnin, and there was definitely a huge difference between them. We could afford Joseph Magnin, but I.Magnin was a bit of a splurge. We moved to Los Gatos in the mid 70's and I shopped at the I.Magnin Valley Fair. Seeing those photos brought back memories, and I can still remember several of my purchases there. Oh the old days...I miss them!

  22. http://www.flickr.com/photos/53409445@N04/

    I found this public link to flickr with dozens of vintage pictures of luxury department stores of late.

    It has one picture of the interior of the Joseph Magnin store in Coddingtown Shopping Center in Santa Rosa where I grew up. The diamond pattern paper bag from JM on the floor brought back memories!

  23. Does anyone remember Cyril Magnin? He was quite a character in San Francisco for many years.

  24. I have read histories of I.Magnin that mentioned him; I believe that, though Jewish, he played the Pope in a movie, with the blessing of the Archdiocese of San Francisco!

  25. I remember working at I.Magnin with very fond memories. I learned a degree of grace and style from this venerable & luxurious institution. Regarding the directory;from what I remember in the early 80's it was as follows:

    Sub-Basement - Shipping/Recieving

    Basement - Men's Floor
    Men's clothing, men's sportswear,furnishings, & men's fragrance/cosmetics. Also a small cafe called Narsai's.

    1st Floor
    Women's fragrance/cosmetics, handbags, jewelry & accessories. Concierge Services.

    Designer jewelry & accessories, hosiery, beauty salon.

    2nd Floor
    Women's Couture & evening, Fur Salon.

    3rd Floor
    Women's Designer Sportswear

    4rth thru 6th floors I can't recall what categories were shown

    7th Floor
    Lingerie & Childrens

    8th Floor
    Home Decor & Executive Offices

    9th Floor
    Alterations & Visual Departments

    10th Floor
    Human Resources, Employee Cafeteria, Roof top patio (which were used for fashion shows in anticipation of the Opera & Symphony Galas)

  26. There is the older I. Magnin & Co. building that predates the Union Square Building at 50 Grant Avenue, it opened in 1912 after the first store was leveled in the 1906 earthquake. You can use Google Maps street view to see the building with the name still on the building.

  27. The grand dame of West Coast stores, the "marble palace" as Christian Dior named it upon his visit to the store was a masterpiece and part of the SF culture. Mentioned and seen in Hitchcock's VERTIGO and THE BIRDS, it was a beauty of a store. The moment I heard Macy's purchased the chain, I knew immediately it was for the real estate and nothing else. It sat, carved into Macy's and this would enable them to expand the downtown SF store...and they did. A real loss

    1. Does anyone remember Ransohoffs at 259 Post Street? That's where Kim Novak models suits for Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo. My mother loved that store.

  28. Regarding the Santa Ana store, which end of the mall was that at, the current JCPenney or the current Macy's mens store? And was the original completely torn down or is the basic infrastructure still there?

  29. I found a bunch of tags in an old Singer sewing cabinet I purchased that are "I.Magnin & Co" clothing tags. It was fun seeing your pictures here and learning a little about "I.Maghnin" Company. Thanks for this great information!

  30. The green marble building that was the Oakland store is still intact and still says I. Magnin on it.

  31. The Santa Ana I Magnin store was completely torn down when Main Place was extensively remodeled late 1980s early 1990s. It was one of the small I Magnin stores and the building was in the front facing the Freeway.

  32. The La Jolla I Magnin was replaced with a brand new store in the early 1990's (just up the street on Girard Ave.). The new store was an elegant though tiny two floor jewel. I think it was only open a year before it was shuttered.

  33. douglas foscaini08 May, 2012 23:12

    I remember going to the Beverly Hills store with grandmother in the Late 70's.

  34. I used to buy my sisters Christmas presents in the Children's Dept at the Union Square store. I vividly remember the 'Elevator Ladies" with their brown uniforms and white gloved hands holding wands, which, once the car reached its limit (usually not too crowded), they lifted these wands across the doors to prevent any additional riders, saying "Car is full. Next car please." The back of the elevators had little cushioned benches, for the elderly, or weary shoppers to rest on, and each car had tiny crystal chandeliers.

  35. I was a buyer at I Magnin....worked in the lingerie and cosmetic buying offices and we were at "China Basin" and had to a shuttle to "The Store" on Union Square to actually see merchandise...I went to Brisbane all the time and to Oakland (basement..which was the mail order dept)....I felt I had finally arrived when I became a Senior "Assistant" Buyer for Collections-Anne Klein, Calvin Klein etc.... however, the low pay of being a women in retail made me leave fashion for more education Left for Law School in 1986 but sooooo feel I Magnin was a part of who I am...I did my original "Management Training" at Joseph Magnin's in the early 80's....Cyril Magnin would come in to our small class of "Trainees"with his dog Tippy...(gucci coat on the dog, I can't believe I am remembering this) and tell us STORIES...one day he brought in a friend "ALDO Gucci"....I was so young I didn't know I should be impressed with it all.
    Love your site brings back great memories...

  36. My mother purchased a Givenchy dress from I. Magnin. When she sent it to the dry cleaners, and later went to pick it up. Instead of just having it on a hanger like they usually did , they had stuffed the dress with tissue paper to hold it's shape, and told my mother it was a pleasure to work on clothes like that.

  37. I worked for I Magnin in San Diego, CA. It was located in the Fashion Valley mall. It was such a unique store that really was in a class by itself. It had the feel of a 100 year old company that was operating in modern day. Its unfortunate that few stores of this caliber are left. It was a sad day when our store manager announced that the store was closing its doors for good. It was a great company to work for. I miss it.

  38. Cyril Magnin portrayed 'Pope Pius XIII' in the 1978 comedy "Foul Play" with Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. He is also appeared in 1985's "Maxie"; a supernatural comedy with Glenn Close and Mandy Patinkin.

  39. I was maybe 3-4 years old at the time but I believe there was a store in Las Vegas as well , am I incorrect? I am very curious if it was ... I believe they had the 2 stores. I and J Magnin...Thank you.

  40. Worked at Bergdorf Goodman in NYC, then I.Magnin San Francisco, then to I.Magnin outside D.C. I was livid when I.Magnin closed. An era of quality and grace gone. We still have Bergdorf's, but how long will it be before the same thing happens to them? It's a shame.

    1. I totally agree, I. Magnin set an entire standard of grace and elegence for the shopper. My best friend and I while still in high school would save our babysitting money to go by one piece of clothing at I Magnin in Seattle. It wasn't just the clothes it was the sheer thrill we got even at such a young age in the late 70's & early 80"s while strolling from floor to floor gazing at all the amazing designer apparel.

  41. Joseph Magnin had a Las Vegas store, not I. Magnin. Bergdorf Goodman is operated with Neiman Marcus, so unless Neiman Marcus goes out, the Bergdorf customer will never experience what Macy's did to our beloved I. Magnin & Co.

  42. Thanks for your work!
    It brings back good memories.
    Dale Magnin (grandson of Rabbi Edgar Magnin)

  43. Dear Dale:

    Since you are related, do you have a special insight into I Magnin? My publisher is looking for authors, and if you would like to talk about it, please contact me at bakgraphics@comcast.net.

    I am happy that my "hobby" elicits good memories!


  44. I worked in display at I. Magnin San Francisco in the early 90's. "Anonymous" from last Dec. is correct in the floor layout, and for the missing floors, 6th was Juniors, 5th had bridge I believe (mid-priced women's wear) and larger women's clothing, and 4th I think had the lower priced lines of designers, such as DKNY, etc.
    Too many funny stories of working there to relate here, but I miss the store a lot.

  45. Macys is horrible. The employees hate their jobs, policies, pushing Credit card apps like it is the end of the world! Plus they all look like they are dressed for a FUNERAL and the store is the SAME no matter what city you are in!! It has totally screwed up all the retailers it swallowed through the years, The Bon Marche, Burdines, etc...
    Macy's is ho hum, the employees are gone faster than yesterday's lunch, NO ONE cares about their customers like they used to and it is the same old stuff...season after season and there is no pizazz.
    Nothing that makes it stand out no matter what state your are shopping in.
    Give me a Nordys, Or Fredrick and Nelson's anyday and I would spend more just to have other options.
    Macys'is now the pits!
    I hope someone at Macy's is listening.. Very sad.

  46. Too funny i still have my LV luggage that i purchased in High school in Phx,AZ. The woman who sold it me still works in a store in AZ.....LOVED the store, it was my first ever credit card. Then off to Sakowitz!

  47. Just FYI... there was an I. Magnam store located for a few years in Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90275.

  48. I also worked at I. Magnin in Fashion Valley. What a beautiful store it was! I was sick to my stomach when Saks came in & painted all the beautiful wood shelves BLACK. Remember the Lalique chandeliers? There were so many beautiful touches...

  49. The I. Magnin store in Palos Verdes Rolling Hills Estates was one of the Bullocks Wilshire stores that was converted to the I. Magnin name, when Macy's ended the BW stores and changed them to I. Magnin in 1990 and then shut them all down by 1995. Macy's was like a monster in Southern California a real Beast that gobbled up all the stores and choice we once had there.

  50. Wow! Does this bring back memories! I worked at I Magnin Northbrook Court, suburban Chicago during and after college 1980-1983. I then moved to San Francisco and worked in the corporates offices in the Buying Program. I was an Assistant Buyer in Women's Bridge and Designer Sportswear 1983 - 84. In fact, I think I was in the same office as the post above from 27 May 2012! I was later a Department Manager of Bridge Sportswear in the Palo Alto Store, 1984 -85, then a Buyer of Petite Sportswear, 1986-87?, then of Bridge Sportswear, 1987-88? I bought the premier line of DKNY, as well as Ellen Tracy, Dana Buchman, Tahari, Max Mara and others. It was quite a place to work....great people and such a magnificent flagship store! Such wonderful memories!


  51. I saw the I Magnin label on a collection of elegant charmeuse nightgowns and robes in a Macy's a few years ago, and was completely offended! How dare they after they ruined then shut down the store!

  52. I worked at flagship Union Square as a teenager and just after college...What a crazy and quirky store. The Buyers kept the whole chain going....Great Display crew as well. Talk about service...I remember a sales associate following a "special" customer holding an ashtray under her cigarette as she shopped. Federated ruined I.Magnin with their lame executives!!!! They were clueless.

  53. I shopped at I. Magnin in the mid-1970's at Kahala Mall, Honolulu, Hawaii. I believe that there was also an I. Magnin shop in downtown Honolulu, in the Amfac building which faces Aloha Tower. I was so sad that the I. Magnin shops closed. The merchandise was above and beyond the then Liberty House. Reading the stories and the stores' directories brings back memories of the former department stores of yesteryear. Keep writing the stories. The younger generation/s need to read about "class."

  54. I. Magnin at 135 stockton had a gift wrapping department and for 40 years my grandmother, Agnus ran the operation. When she died I later inherited her home and in the basement were a hundred of I. Maginin boxes with that keen stipe, and in those boxes were little gift she brought home...over those many years.

  55. Thank you for this website. My grandmother took me to I. Magnin each fall and spring for my wardrobe. The sales were incredible! But we also loved the style and the experience of the store. We also shopped at Saks and Bullock's but nothing compared to Magnin's.

  56. I presently visit the one just outside of Washington DC in Virginia. They have some beautiful dresses. But I cherish a few remarks made above and
    would love to hear more of the early times, and would have loved to
    have been in your shoes during that era. My grandmother love to shop and
    taught me to walk in and just look. I missed her now as I reflect on it. I
    earnestly hope the grace and beauty and peculiarity of the ealier generations would come back in out society.

  57. My wedding dress was purchased from the SF store in 1968. It was an experience I will never forget. I still have the dress and the husband that came with it. I Magnin was a beacon of graciousness and style. My roommate worked there and I remember she had to carry a little shoebox instead of a purse when she went on breaks. The other memory is that anyone who shopped around Union Square in SF always used the ladies room at I Magnin, they were famous.

  58. What a fascinating post! I came over here from another blog which recommended your site. So many of us well remember the department stores of old. When shopping was a pleasurable experience in stores of distinction and elegance, with exquisitely-dressed employees, excellent customer service, an atmosphere of refinement and often amid distinguished customers...and, of course, the fine products, including quality clothing, not just stylish but sewn to last for more than one season and more than one cleaning; displayed creatively, in "show" rooms which were not bursting at the seams with an overstuffed inventory or narrow aisles. Thanks for the memories; I miss those days...

  59. Thank You!

    I'd say you hit the nail on the head in one paragraph!


  60. My obsession with Hermes started by visiting the mezzanine shop in the San Francisco flagship as a 14 year-old. Such fond memories of a wonderful by-gone era!

  61. I worked at The Promenade at Woodland Hills (C.A.) I.Magnin just after the '94 Northridge earthquake. I was the stock person for the Crystal/China and the Linens dept. I remember upstairs we had Crystal/China and Silverware, Homegoods, Children’s and Bridal. The thing I remember the most was that the salespeople really knew their product and were more than happy to teach you, show you and inform you about its history and quality. Speaking of quality, I met Lord Wedgewood while I was working there. I was told thru the rumor mill that he has an almost photographic memory. I have yet to test it out since I haven’t' run across him since. Here's a link to the event they had while he was there... http://articles.latimes.com/1994-05-26/local/me-62433_1_wedgwood-s-china
    It was me and three shipping and receiving guys lifting the piano while the teacups were placed on the floor and we lowered the piano on top. Lord Wedgewood slid underneath for a perfect photo opportunity! Speaking of quality, I remember being told by an employee that worked there during the days after the earthquake and he told me that much of the crystal figurines and the china dinnerware had fallen on the tile floors from their display cases and DID NOT break or chip! I was there less than one year before they were bought out by Federated; I kept saying to myself "why would Federated want to buy out I.Magnin?" I remember the silly commercials with the guy from the Isuzu commercials yelling "Federated federated federated!" for some electronics store. I had just been laid off from Saks because they were not re-opening the store at The Promenade due to low performance after the earthquake. I had soo many good memories of I.Magnin like they had a Bistro upstairs! I could never afford the stuff their but I did used to get samples of the Lady Godiva chocolates! They even filmed a movie there, 'Night of the Comet', where they had a shootout in the shoe dept!
    When they finally closed the doors, the ladies in the perfume dept gave me boxes of samples and explained that perfumes work with your body chemistry that’s why certain perfumes smell different on different people. I got boxes of Godiva chocolates because they couldn't do anything with the bulk boxes that were only in the plain white boxes. I asked the assistant store manager what was going to happen to the art on the walls because I had fancied a piece that was at the top of the staircase. She walked to the top of the stairs from the halfway platform and took the picture and handed it to me and said its yours. I once asked why there was there a spoon at the top of the dinner plate on display for the dinner service. The nice lady explained that it originated from French etiquette and.... That’s why the desert spoon is on top of the plate. So when an employee asked you if they could help you, they REALLY meant it!
    I had intended on only writing a few lines but the memories just kept coming. Thanks for bringing up the good ole days.

  62. Does anyone remember the children's department? I have this vague recollection that there was a carousel in it. Is this true?

  63. I remember being a freshman at Mills College and going into The City [genuflect] with a rich dorm mate from Hong Kong who was purchasing underwear, etc for her trousseau. She spend $300 in 1969 dollars [multiple by 6] for one nightgown and a bra. I still shake my head. I remember also going to the San Francisco store in 1981 after my father died. My mother had been criticized for becoming somewhat frumpy while nursing my father. I. Magnin's had a great petite department. What an elegant store that symbolized all the wonderful things San Francisco mean-truly a store with great style and graciousness in a city with great style and graciousness.

  64. My grandmother was named Mildred Hamilton, and she was the first (and maybe only) black saleslady in Pasadena I.Magnin back in the '60s and '70s to sell in the high-end fine apparel section. She was an elegant lady who loved beautiful, well-made clothes. She started as a seamstress. She suffered from some racial discrimination and ignorance, but mostly she really, really loved her job. Her customers (Pasadena ladies who lunch) called her "Millie." And she was a star salesperson because she knew all her customers and kept files on what they wanted, as well as the Pasadena social events coming up, so she knew when to contact them when she had something special coming in. She also made sure she didn't sell the same outfit to two different ladies. I Magnin would give top salespeople gold charms to wear around their necks for various years of service, along with an employee lunch. I remember her wearing hers with pride.

    Her line to close sales (these were very expensive luxury dresses) was "You don't need this dress... but you want this dress."

    1. FYI These Gold Charms were produced by Laykin et Cie. Many of the I.Magnin logos and Buildings were reproduced in solid gold and were worn as pendants, pins or charms on a bracelet.

  65. I grew up in San Francisco in the 70's and going to shop in Union Square was always a treat. When I was 19 years old I had a summer job that gave me the first real money I'd ever had. With my first paycheck I went downtown, into I. Magnin, and bought a Louis Vuitton Speedy bag, all the rage at the time (and even now). It cost me $220 dollars, a fortune for a 19 year old and nearly all of that first paycheck but I didn't care. After I paid for it I transferred all the contents of my old purse into my new bag and walked out of the store feeling like a princess! I can still vividly remember after all these many years walking around Union Square carrying my new purse and feeling very chic indeed. What a terrible shame that lovely, graceful store closed, there will never be another like it to capture the old-school elegance of San Francisco (although Gump's comes close).

  66. I have inherited a family Christening Gown with the I.Magnin name on it's label, with the following: 840 Market Street, San Francisco, Cal Manufacturer" The white label has the name and address in red thread. Can anyone give me an approximate date period that would have been sold with that label? Thanks a million.

  67. I. Magnin, Union Square in the 70's was a wonderful experience. I was stopped on the street by their Fashion Coordinator and asked to model for them and I did. The sales associates where the cream of humanity and the buyers where so savvy. I remember, I believe, on the 10th floor there was a nurse,and about 10 beds, who was so bored that she allowed us to nap at lunch. She would time you then wake you.

  68. I have recently inherited a necklace and pair of earrings in a I magnin box. The inside of the box has a tag that says I Magnin & company 11-20-56 Dept. 220 sales number 602, I'm sure the necklace was original to the box could anyone out there give me any ideas on it. My email is arnoldbj3@gmail.com

  69. The downtown Honolulu location in the Amfac building was a J. Magnin. (Amfac owned Liberty House and purchased J. Magnin in 1969.)

  70. In November of 1994, my husband and I attended the liquidation sale for I. Magnin in San Francisco. The "most priceless" item we found (in our opinion) was taped inside a drawer (many old store fixtures were also being sold). It was an old, dry, yellowed & worn sheet of paper on which was typed the following: "LABOR RATE CHART San Francisco 780 Millinery Workroom, Effective 7/1/67." And it listed "Number of Hours" and "Rate" from 15 minutes to 20.5 hours. The pay for 15 minutes of work was .86. I still have that sheet of paper.

  71. Does anyone know of the name of the manager back in 1981-82 of the gourmet food shop at I Magnin? (in the lower level)? I think his first name was Jim, last name Schaller or something like that...he moved to Seattle in 1983. I can be reached at mghendron@icloud.com thanks. :)

  72. Correction of my email address (for the post above): mfgendron@icloud.com

  73. Like cj, I, too, purchased my wedding gown from the San Francisco I. Magnin store in 1968. I was treated like a princess and will remember always that special experience. I have the same, wonderful husband as well, and we celebrated our sapphire anniversary in August. Even though 'gone with the wind,' I. Magnin will live on forever... Thank you for remembering.

  74. I just came found several I.Magnin Designer Xmas Cards at an Estate Sale! Very 40's 50's

  75. Remember Miss Evelyn in gifts on the sixth floor SFO? The best.

  76. What a lovely site. Thank you. In 1967 I was 18 years old. I am 64 today and have always loved cosmetics. I looked forward to the ads by I Magnin in the San Francisco Examiner and/or Chronicle advertising skin care classes in the store in a classroom setting for some of the European cosmetic lines (not around today) I think they were like $50.00 or $75/class. You would be given a skincare kit to take home after a two hour evening class. Oh, how I enjoyed those times. I would purchase expensive lipsticks, creams, mascaras and perfumes. Afterwards, I would treat myself to beautiful earrings (Miriam Haskell) and others. I learned to spoil myself at I Magnin. Everything was so stylish and chic. I always felt so special when I shopped there on my meager salary. Then I married and got the I Magnin credit card! I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I would attend the after Christmas sales buying whatever I wanted! Such beautiful and classy items. I still have it all today. Can't seem to part with any of it. I miss that store.
    Years later I worked in cosmetics at Macy's with a woman who had worked as a seamstress at I Magnin in the late 50's or 60's. She told me she used to dress the models. She had been the first African American woman to have that position in I Magnin San Francisco so many years ago.

  77. Please read A Store to Remember by James Thomas Mullane (2006 Falcon Press)

    It is a complete history of I. Magnin

  78. I worked at the San Francisco/Union Square, Oakland, Walnut Creek, Palo Alto, San Mateo, Carmel and Santa Clara/Valley Fair I. Magnin stores. Loved it at first -- hated it when Federated took over. Things I can add -- there was a fur vault in the Union Square basement where not only expensive fur coats were left for storage by customers, but full taxidermied animals -- including a zebra and lion-- were stored in a controlled climate. The "nurses station" was on the 10th floor and had at least ten cots waiting for those ladies who experienced 'the vapors.' There were hidden passages and viewing rooms for security personnel to spy on suspected shoplifters. I have many other memories, but don't want to have nightmares tonight, so will stop. Really: 35-plus years ago and I still have periodic nightmares about the Union Square building...

  79. I worked at the Del Amo store in the late 70's. I was hired at sixteen years old by Patsy Libbatori. I have a great memories of the store. I worked with wonderful people. Some of their names I still remember, Mattie McKinney, Robert Kamafuji, Millie, Anna, Jan, Cathy Coe, Leslie Alvarado, and many more . There will never be another store like it.

  80. Hello, I am wondering about a make-up/cosmetic or jewelry case made by i magnin with the initials of " M. T. C. " on the case? Does anyone have any information for me?

    Appreciate it much,

  81. the San Francisco location was on Stockton Street, not Sockton Street. and there was a 6th Floor Hair Spa....

  82. @Tina if you look at the "MTC" initials could they perhaps be MIC? If so then it is one of the art deco logos for I. Magnin & Co.

  83. Can anyone tell me if Lou Green of California coats were sold in the stores.

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  85. Did Magnin's ever replace Bonwit's in the Hancock Building? I recall I.Magnin at the Hancock in the late 80's early 90's. Or is my memory getting away from me? They had mens at the back of 1 and they had a mezzanine with menswear. HELP!!!!


  86. Hi - does anyone remember what the I.Magnin shopping bags from the 1970s looked like? Or where I can find a picture of one? THANKS Cindy

    1. I think they had vertical stripes with two alternating tones of cream and a soft, earthen light brown.

      My 93-year-young mother wrote this in her memoirs:
      My brother-in-law placed me in my very first job as an elevator operator at the prestigious I. Magnin & Company. The job paid low, minimal wages and my daily uniform was a two-piece silk, embroidered Chinese pajama set. I loved that job because I never saw such a beautiful store and all the elegant socialites who were dressed to the hilt with their beautiful hats, gloves, matching purses and hosiery, all who were dropped off by their chauffeured limousines, a big to do, just to go shopping, That was the beginning of my work force, but eventually, I got tired of the 'Ups and Downs' and moved to a small sportswear and knits boutique as a sales and stock person.

  87. Cindy, Have you checked on eBay or google a search for historical shoppings bags, store bags? Maybe you will have some luck. :))

  88. I have seen photos of I.Magnin bags on Flickr. DO a search and you should be able to find them.

  89. There should be a website or place where we can see all the I Magnin files, records, information of the Union Square store or do you think it is all destroyed? Surely, someone must have this information on employee records?

  90. My birth mother worked at I. Magnin's San Francisco possibly in the 50s?60s/? or possibly70s. Her name was Marie Connolly. She houseshared with a lady called Marion Simpson. I eventually uncovered this about my mother when I was doing my family research. If anyone knew her I would love to receive any information as what I have is scant.


  92. As a new graduate from Oregon State University I worked in Accessories at the Portland, Oregon store on 6th and Salmon from 1965 to 1967. Miss Roy was the store Manager and at the time they had a children's department and a shoe department. All the older sales clerks wanted to work upstairs in furs or designer dresses, but we younger girls were in accessories I recall the day Dianna Ross came in to the store. Also the day a woman tired to walk out of the store with a fur under her skirt; she was caught.

  93. Thank you for the great memories. As an I. Magnin alum, I have fond memories of this great institution that is still a part of my life today. My first foray with the gem was at the La Jolla store for one year (during the Rodney King incident) before it closed and reopened in Fashion Valley, which was an awesome reopening. The team and I actually took part in the renovation of the new space in terms of decorating and setting up the various departments. At opening, it was lights, cameras, and champagne...simply in a class of its own. I started in accessories selling Sharif bags (now sold on HSN) and Hermes scarfs, but ultimately got to work in crystals where I sold my first Lalique vase. Then on to Sonia Rykiel, St. John, furs, Manolo Blahnik shoes, children's, fine jewelry, men's wear, and finally settled in the bridge department where I sold the best of Donna Karan, and Ralph Lauren to name a few. Several of us got a chance to train at the famed Los Angeles I. Magnin on Wilshire Blvd, which really helped to polish our “A” game. Again, there are so, so, many great memories, but I will closed by sharing my collectibles as an employee who really understood back then what real customer service meant (the customers demanded it, and I enjoyed being of service). Of my collectibles are two employee pins that completed our sophisticated and fashionable look. The first one is a small, black and gold oval pin that simply spells I.M, and received a new one for the new store that is gold in color, in the shape of a solid “A,” with a raised letter “A” at the top and remaining print that reads “I. Magnin new attitude.” In addition, I have these great black and gold hoop earrings that are just classic and still worn to this very day. Finally, a bath would not be a bath without my Perlier Body Honey Miel (introduced to my spa experience by I. Magnin).

    Thanks for making it possible to share…enjoy!

    1. Worked in La Jolla starting in 86 when it was Bullocks Wilshire then becoming I.Magnin before moving to Fashion Valley and agree the opening was great! Managed the customer service/credit desk and got to help design the space. I have a few items from my time with them, a coffee mug, my business card with leather card holder, name tag, I.Magnin logo watch, and a few silk ties I got a a great employee discount that I still wear 30 years later.

    2. Hello! Long shot that you will see this after posting 6 years ago... but I'm dying to know if it's visible on your pin who manufactured it? Hope you're doing well!

  94. Beverly Kamps24 May, 2015 19:03

    When I moved to Los Angeles in 1976, the store on Wilshire in the Mid Wilshire area is where I was every weekend. Their home section on the top floor near the Blum's Restaurant had an employee named Peter. He was excellent in customer service and I enjoyed just discussing home decor with him. It really is funny how someone made such a great impression and still brings a smile to my face. Los Angeles was wonderful then and that area of town offered everything anyone could want!

  95. James Marlow Hayes18 June, 2015 21:41

    As a poor young boy from the small farming town of Tranquillity out side of Fresno, Ca I had very little chance of knowing the "life" the other half lived until I became best friends with Allan the only child of Ray and Ellen Lowrance that owned a large farm in the area. My first taste of this "life" came on a Saturday afternoon when I got to go with Allan, his mom and his aunt Eliose Arcelus who taught me about art and antiques. I was taken to the most wonderful place I had ever seen. It was a store in Fresno that I had never heard of called I. Magnin. I never knew there was such a place with such beautiful things. Both ladies tried on several outfits each more lovely than the last and they each bought at least one of those outfits. Allan and I walked around looking at the most beautiful things I had every seen. I just had to buy something for my mom. I found a pair of really pretty, but not real silver loop earrings. I borrowed the $10.00 from Mrs. Lowrance and promised somehow to pay back that "large" amount, which I did after several months of small payments. The look on my mom's face and the pride I had in giving her something from so magical a place changed my life. I will always remember that first time and every time that I went to I. Magnin in Fresno and later in San Francisco with joy.

  96. I think the store J.J. Haggarty's in the Los Angeles area should be added to this blog, It has several branches, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Santa Ana, and probably more. All the stores I was in had a circular stairway with a huge crystal chandelier in the center. Similar to I.Magnin. I remember they carried Mr. Blackwell.

  97. I have another suggestion for Los Angeles department store. That would be Ohrbach's. They sold some knock offs . Many times when they show the credits for a tv show it will say the clothes were from Ohrbach's The decorator that Doris Duke killed told her to stop spending so much money on those designer clothes and buy knock offs from Ohrbach's and she took his advice and started shopping there too. It was right there with May Co. Wilshire and Coulter's department store, and also had several branches.

  98. I love this blog! I worked for Macy's Union Square in the 80s and 90s then left to open my own Vintage Store... I regret it! lol... I'd love to do a resource of Independent Boutiques, because of the many vintage garments that came from some amazing shops, some are known, some unknown. Tracking them down is definitely some detective work. The internet has definitely taken away shopping as a social event, which I miss. But, I thank you for the work and effort that you put into this blog, it is one of the things I enjoy about the internet.
    Kind Regards.
    Samantha A.

  99. @Tina I tried to reply, but for some reason, I can't.. I.Magnin refilled compacts, which I loved, because I collect vintage compacts and now have nowhere to re-fill them. They did sell a line of basic compacts as I remember perhaps that was the brand name? Or, it could be a vintage compact with the owner's initials engraved. Check to see if it is enamel, or sterling silver, or even gold. Those were usually engraved. Good luck and I hope you get this! Keep us posted!

  100. @anonymous regarding how horrible Macy's is now. Yes, and sadly I worked there to see it slowly die.. like a fish out of water gasping it's last breathe. It had been trying to survive being taken over by Federated who now owns all the department stores, but RH Macy lost.. and there went a great company that treated it's employees well and ran a great store with class and wonderful merchandise. Welcome to the corporate age. This happened in the 90s... = (

  101. @Cabaret,, your post brought tears to my eyes! I was there too! I worked next door at Macy's. I purchased all the basic men's white shirts with the NM label, for my husband, they were so cheap but the quality was incredible. a few odds and ends, mostly sentimental things. it was like a funeral. = (
    kind regards,

  102. Since a lot of these posts are from fellow San Franciscans, I hope it's ok to ask this question, but here goes! Does anyone remember a shop called "This is Yours" from the 60s/70s? I would so appreciate any info!! Thanks so much!
    Kind Regards

  103. There was also an IMagnin in the Oakbrook Center in suburban Chicago. It was one of my favorite stores!

  104. There was also an IMagnin in the Oakbrook Center in suburban Chicago. It was one of my favorite stores!

  105. I remember going into the I.Magnin store in Beverly Hills every time I visited LA from Australia in the late 90s.There was a very chic Australian saleslady with a bob who worked there and I once heard her telling one of her customers all about Australia ahead of the customers visit here. This was at a time when many people couldn't have even told you where Australia was; I used to meet people on those trips who insisted it was in Europe!

    I also bought some great Calvin Klein menswear for myself from the I.Magnin store on Union Square; that truly was a beautiful store too.

    It was the purchase of a chic vintage I.Magnin mens dressing gown on etsy this week that brought back the memories.

  106. One time I dropped off my mother at I. Magnin Beverly Hills. She told me she would be standing outside at a certain time and to pick her up. When she got in the car she said you know that white coat dress I have with the belt in the back, I said yes, she said Zsa Zsa Gabor is in there and she is wearing that exact same dress. So we were proud of that.

  107. I worked at the I Magnin store in Union Square from August 1974 until 1984. i had just graduated high school when my uncle who lived next door to the HR director got me an interview an I.Magnin. In 1974/75 the "basement" (not the sub-basement) housed lockers for all female employees who were not allowed to bring a purse/satchel to the "sales" floors. Instead we were given a light blue "I. Magnin" cardbox staionary-sized box in which to put anything we might need during the day (money, cosmetics, locker key etc.). In addition to lockers, the "B" level included employee will call, the "display" department, as well as the backstock for cosmetics, accessories etc. sold on the main floor.

  108. BAK, I believe the opening date of the Vallco Fashion Park store is inverted. It should be 1976 instead of 1967. I recall attending a men's fashion show shortly after the opening. I was selected from the audience to model a full-length raccoon coat. It must have weighed 100 lbs. and was HOT.

  109. I remember my mother telling me that one of the sales ladies at one of the Magnin's stores tole her that I. Magnin is for the wife and Joseph Magnin is for the mistress. We thought that was kind of amusing.

  110. LO thats funny... there must be some truth to that. :)

  111. There must be some truth to it Ted. lol.

  112. I think it is probably accurate. The thing
    I remember about Joseph Magnin, were the boxes. I don't know how to describe them but they were very artistic with some of them being three or more pieces.

  113. Thank you for this! How beautifully done. I shopped at I. Magnin in Chicago many times. If memory serves, the YSL boutique was on the street floor. But no matter, these photos and memories are to be cherished.

  114. I've just loved reading all the comments... BAK you have done a fantastic job with this... I left a comment on another store I worked at briefly in Denver before I moved to SF to work in the Visual Department at I Magnin and then Special Events. This company and the merchandise were the best experience I've ever had in retail either as an employee or a customer. I was gone by the time the big changes happened that were eventually the downfall of the company... Partly because Federated did not know how to properly merchandise luxury but most due to firing the seasoned merchandisers and buyers and replacing them with young and inexperienced new people (the people in the NY showrooms used to call them the Green Goddesses) There might be a place for I Magnin in todays market but too many people don't know and appreciate the quality and luxury of that kind of merchandise and merchandising but the world has changed so much so that the people who used to shop here in today's market are likely going directly to the shows in NY, Paris and Milan. No matter what anyone ever says I Magnin was and will always be in a class by itself. I still have a cookie tin shaped like the SF store and a couple of boxes with holiday decorations in it and a sweater or two I can't bear to let go of... Oh and it was my first store credit card and I still have that too! The only other store I miss this much is Jerry Magnin in Beverly Hills!
    Thanks again... you brought back a boatload of wonderful memories!

  115. EJ,
    That is wonderful to post this tidbit of history that your mother notated in her diary. :)
    What years did she work there?

  116. Well… all the comments and nostalgia are very interesting and wonderful to read, but there are a few things that need to be clarified. As a one of the former Federated “ Green Goddesses” may it be said that many of us though young had a very successful retail careers and ran large innovative departments in other department stores prior to our I. Magnin experience. We wanted to embrace the I. Magnin world not to bring it down. We were told Federated wanted to update and give a little “Face Lift “ to the I. Magnin image. Before becoming a “Green Goddess, my first merchandising job was working as an assistant buyer for Couture in the I. Magnin New York buying office. It was a wonderful learning experience, and at that time it did not occur to me that paying a college graduate to spend the day collecting replacement buttons for the ladies who bought designer dresses and had lost a button, was anything but the very height of service. But unfortunately times were changing.

    There are so many factors that brought down the wonderful world that was I. Magnin. Stores had increased overhead and they had to pay large benefits to full time union sales people. They mistakenly started hiring more inexperienced part time sales people to save money and the customer connection and service declined rapidly. And although the “Green Goddesses “ wanted so much to fit into the I Magnin culture, Federated didn’t really know what direction they wanted I. Magnin to go. Instead of appreciating what I. Magnin stood for and keeping the image they opted for a mashed up direction that never really got off the ground.
    I for one, left to go to Macy’s who at the time had a clear direction and were doing creative exciting things such as the Shop on Union Square and the Cellar. There , I was able to take what I learned at I. Magnin and my “young innovative “ ideas and create the departments for the young working woman who still wanted the atmosphere but had a different view of fashion . It was new era of designer jeans and Liz Claiborne.
    If I. Magnin’s directing executives had had the vision to keep the elegance of the old and still also appeal to this new customer base they would have been more successful than any other store on the West Coast. Sadly, they didn’t.
    Perhaps we have come full circle, today there is more need for an I. Magnin that ever before. We are in a retail wasteland where most stores lack visual appeal, and creative merchandising, direction and service is non-existent. Miss you I. Magnin.

    1. Nice comments . . . and I think you are onto something! You can't take every unique thing in the world and homogenize it out of existence. That is what seems to happen to many local, one-of-a-kind stores, and why we have a vacuum now.
      - Bruce

  117. I worked in the Special Events office on the 8th floor of the San Francisco store. I was the only black woman to work in that department to my knowledge ever. It was the early 80's and I was in my early 20's. It was the best job I have EVER had. I traveled to most of the California stores to do events and met with countless designers, celebrities and socialites. It set the bar very high for me in retail that could not be reached after that. I changed careers a few years later and I just couldn't be less for less. The level of excellence I learned was a standard that transferred to everything I did after that.I was a part of some of the most amazing events in fashion in San Francisco and my events made the Herb Caine editorial column often. As a black woman it was always interesting. I've thought back so many times over the years about that 'golden' and unique experience with a grateful heart.
    Thank you for this blog.

  118. Since upon finding this wonderful website, whivh I continue to read on a daily basis, I was shocked to discover there was an I. Magnin once located in Fresno Ca, in downtown off of Van Ness Ave. I absolutely love that and wish I could've experienced this fine department store.

    1. It was a very special place. Nothing else like it ever in Fresno. I sure miss it.

  119. How about Oak Brook Center, circa 1981?

  120. I remember having to dress up to go downtown (SF). As I held my mother's hand I was eye level to the fire hydrants on the buildings, I would grab out to pull the shiny chains that held the caps on. I am not sure what sort of shopping we did because my memory favors what was important to me at the time. The children's department. I didn't love clothes shopping but knew there was toys, I acted accoordingly. The saleslady was always the same, I don't recall her name. She always addressed us by name like we were old friends and valued clients all in one. This was the early 70's. I have to weigh in on a prior post, I too have a vague recollection of a carosoul, like the one in Escape to Witch Mountain. There was a giant Steiff Bear, at least 3' tall on display and I fell in love with it. I don't know how long it was used for display. The saleslady called one day and said the bear was no longer needed and she said it could be purchased. I only found out about the call last year. I will never forget the day the largest box in the universe arrived at my door, addressed to me, I couldn't have been more than 6. It was a little girls dream come true!!! I still have the bear today.

  121. We lived in Michigan and my parents noth held advanced degrees and great jobs and made good money. Even then when we would visit California my mother could only buy things on sale from I. Magnin and I have little recollection of her buying anything from there! May have to do with the fact that both myself and my brother were sent to private schools! I have some memories from the eighties of this incredible department store and wish I had been able to shop when I was older but they were all gone at that point.

  122. I'm trying to remember if it was I. Magnin that offered the fabulous Christmas boxes each year. My late wife collected them while shopping in San Francisco every Christmas for almost 20 years. Each box was so very special and she displayed all of them around the Christmas tree for years after. The most special was a gingerbread house about two feet square and over three feet high! The gift for me inside this huge "house" was some underwear covered by at least a pound of tissue paper.
    Such wonderful memories of visiting the stores around Union Square and seeing all the high-society ladies dressed to the nines with elbow length gloves.

  123. My apologies to all. I just looked at one of the Christmas boxes and it was from J. Magnin. Notwithstanding that, the bygone era of good taste and class evidenced by the San Francisco Magnin stores, The now defunct City of Paris and the older Gumps are sorely missed these days or mass/crass commercialism.

  124. I was told that I Magnin used to have a San Francisco warehouse at 1 Harrison St. Does anyone know if that is true? That building has been a Gap Inc. Office building since about 1990. I have worked in that building and it definitely looks like it could have been a warehouse building originally. Curious if it was connected to I. Magnin. Thx

    1. When I worked at I Magnin in the 1970’s, the warehouse was in Brisbane. Payroll and some administrative offices were located on Mission between 2nd and 3rd. Maybe in the early years the warehouse was on Harrison. But my husband just told me there was a warehouse on Townsend but they didn’t use it all the time. It was used maybe for storage or temporary storage.

  125. Do you have any photos of the interior of I Magnin, Santa Barbara? It is now the U.S. Bankruptcy Court; ironic, since that happened after Magnin's bankruptcy. My father remembers the interior being decorated with Alfred Herter/Jessie Arms Botke murals from the demolished El Mirasol hotel. That too is interesting in that that Jessie Botke also painted the murals of Magnins Vermont in LA. My father is trying to track down what happened to the wall paintings. Any leads you or any other readers of this blog would be appreciated. Thanks.

  126. This comment has been removed by the author.

  127. I am 55 now in 2020. As a kid, my mom and her friends in Pacific Heights would go to I. Magnin on Union Square in San Francisco quite often and it was the bomb. Before Neiman and Sak's came, it totally was I. Magnin. It reigned SF for a long time with class. Marble walls on the exterior - yes, just imagine.
    Luxury completely thrown at you. Real designer dresses - mom spending $4,000 on 3 dresses there in any given season was normal. Yes, at that time this store had them available or order it for you. That posh. Wonderful cosmetics counters - Erno Lazlo was all the rage.
    Anyone just felt rich at I. Magnin. The only store today where you get that feeling is Bergdorf Goodman New York. Nordstrom is a very good store today, but as anyone who knows - I. Magnin was even more fab, slightly more extra special. The best and true San Francisco born style and class department store ever.
    I will always miss you, I. Magnin!

  128. Hi Peter and everyone,
    I worked @ Barney's New York from 1984-1997. I knew Barney & Fred Pressman & family. What I would like to know if anyone knew the manager of the Gift Department @ I. Magnin by the name of Jim ______ who moved to Seattle in 1983 or 84. He was very nice.
    I never went into I.Magnin when living in SF from 1981-83, but heard it was awesome.
    I do remember Emporium Capwell's restaurant and Macy's. Sak's and Neiman Marcus had just opened in the same location as the White House.
    I do remember Erno Lazlo and bought the men's skin care line at Holt Renfrew in Montreal.
    Marc (in Plattsburgh, NY).

  129. Guys, it's Erno Laszlo. Why do the guys always get this wrong? My husband even writes it wrong. The guys also think the name is a girl's name. Erno is a guy. I have great skin thanks to Erno. Girls, okay, I know, I will leave it alone.

    I do not know Jim, but I do remember I. Magnin's Seattle location. It was better than Nordstrom. Nordstrom was the up and coming Northwest chain. Seattle's baby.

    I. Magnin locations here in Southern California back when was the place to shop and be seen in the department store sense. How can I express this. Think of total snobbery and retail elitism with taste. This chain went all out to make their stores look beyond nice. Macy's, Bullock's and Emporium could not lay a finger close to it. It was I. Magnin and you could kinda add The Broadway. Remember that back then there were more department store chains and they competed in a bustling and extremely lucrative California free spending shopping market. The 70s were so shallow and material out here and I. Magnin, The Broadway and Liberty House were The Department Stores crème de la crème. I. Magnin being the highest caliber. A MUST HAVE shopping bag to be seen with. If your shopping trip did not have one your day simply could not have been all that great. I mean, seriously. His son Joseph Magnin had a chain that was, as Peter would say, "the bomb" with the young, very spoiled, straight and gay, male and female, very vain and upper trendy.

    Marc: Holt Renfrew is the best Canadian chain (and with tasteful British influences). If you never went to I. Magnin, think of it as a Barney's x 4. It's market level was in the Neiman's, Sak's and Bergdorf highest level sector and California made. West Coast's best even reaching as far east as Chicago. Yes, Sak's and Neiman's are good. With Sak's and Barney's you think New York. With Neiman's somehow in the back our minds we think, well, Texas. What the...?

    I. Magnin we all knew and swiftly thought Chanel dresses, Gucci shoes, $2,000 Paris make up sachets, a rare Dior handbag. With a subliminal cherished awe you also thought... San Francisco, California.
    A retail dream.

  130. A friend gave me some vintage postcards. One is postmarked NY NY 1937 from Max Blum in NYC, about the NYC fashion shows he is attending with stylists from the Max Blum Dept Store in San Jose. Would you be interested in including this in your collection? The card is addressed to Mrs. F. Rhodes, 1140 Minnesota, San Jose, Calif (before zip codes). There is no stamp on the postcard, but there was (you can see remnants of the glue). It is a postcard of the original Pennsylvania Station.

  131. Barbara and Peter you both nailed it. This was all eons ago and before Neiman and SFA went further West. Here in NYC we wished it had come further East.

  132. Who is Barbara & Peter?

    Does anyone know of the name of the gift/gourmet section of I Magnin?

  133. Correction: I’ve been searching for the name of the guy that was gift/gourmet boutique department @ I Magnin who moved to Seattle in 1984. Any one know? Jim_____?


  135. I am 86 and still with a sharp memory. I have read all the comments and been to all the stores mentioned. I have to say in my time and travels the best 3 ever in US history so far are/were Bergdorf Goodman/non chain, I. Magnin/chain and Neiman Marcus/chain. I once saw Barbra Streisand happily and deeply involved shopping at the Beverly Hills I. Magnin and on the same visit there was Joanna Carson in another department. I will never forget that. I was numb. Bottom line is these 3 carried extremely expensive items as a standard. Very costly pieces are now more in designer boutiques itself now rather than a department store. Nordie's, Sak's Fifth Avenue and Bloomie's still to this day all fall below the three.

    1. I appreciate and bless your sharp memory! For goodness sake, please write down everything you exxperienced . . . I am 62 and plan to do it soon (after my book on Hudson's is complete). My mom had so many fascinating stories that I recall, but she was struck down by a stroke at age 58 (but lived silently for another 21 years). All of her insight and knowledge remained locked up inside her. Would that I could only have a few more hours with her, I'd be a very rich man. Thank you for your lovely comment.


  136. You must remember it was years ago. You have to place your mind back to a time when the Volare was a big car brand. Big names back then were Old Spice, AMC Cars, Sears, JCPenny, Avon meetings, Coty. Designer names and parfumes were not common known at all whatsoever to most Americans like today, by no means. You are getting the picture. You now can fathom how better this store was. On your site it would rank in the top 2 if not 1 of the past stores.
    It was so wonderful. You felt so very special. Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Lavin was already at I. Magnin. Not a problem. You did not have to fly Pan Am first class back East or Europe for the good stuff. It was here. I. Magnin truly brought the West Coast the best.
    The normal in it's time was you would wake up and have morning coffee and read the papers. The ads were not the normal store ads. They were elegant gowns and luxurious furs glorious ads. You get dressed and the schedule to the driver was most always the Bentley drop off at Lina Lee on Rodeo then Chanel, avoided Giorgio's today and look at what Van Cleef and Arpels had out, then lunch and a couple of hours in the afternoon at I. Magnin.
    Vogue magazine came alive walking into the store. It smelled Jean Patou. The store gleamed with the dazzling aura of glamour and who you expected to see and the ones you wanted to avoid today. The salespeople acknowledged you and were at you beck and call on anything, anything you needed. And everything you ever wanted. Nothing was ever cluttered, displayed wrong or off point. You knew it was in back or you asked for it or ordered it if you did not see it. You knew they had the power to do it and did. Let's not talk money here. Let's talk about and review all this to make you oh so beautiful and priceless. They knew a party was coming up and you will be in De La Renta's finest tonight. That feeling. A feeling like no other. You did not care if the card hit 10k. It was the only big store I'd leave to the car and people on the street would gawk at my bags in awe. The store did that to people.
    If you were to drop a big store name at lunch I. Magnin was the gold coin. We all nodded then talked about John bad tennis game or Bill's great golf shot. They dressed the best heeled women in Bel Air and Beverly Hills. Inside Hollywood gossip between the wives and who grabbed what latest item was always abundant here. The wealthiest, most beautiful California women would never be seen at a May Co., Bullocks or Macy's. It was I. Magnin.
    Gabriella Bel Air, CA

    P.S. See The Users 1978 John Forsythe and Jaclyn Smith film and Hollwood Wives Jackie Collins. These films take you back and grasp our drowned material world.

  137. BAK they are trying to tell you. It is called Haute Coutre. The real Haute Couture.
    No not the mass produced stuff now. Moreover, the actual items from Paris and Italian shows and houses.
    Imagine Audrey Hepburn looking into the jewelry window in Breakfast At Tiffany's.
    Imagine it being bigger and clothing and Hepburn at Union Square looking into the window.
    There are only four American department stores that had the actual Haute Couture departments:
    1. BG, East.
    2. IM, West.
    3. SFA, East.
    4. NM, South.
    There is no chain anymore that does that.
    It was like that. IM possessed shoppers.

  138. Chloe in Greenwich, CT23 March, 2021 09:53

    Comparing it to NYC stores in a era when these stores were only in NYC? There was one massive difference. In it's day It dominated the luxury market in the entire West. Retail world wise that is quite impressive. Family getting real old with years of squabbling and Federated. Mercedes crashes. Core main market era 1950-1990. 40+ years reign. May I be worthy my King.

  139. My mother got and wore the fine lace and silk dress then my wife wore it then it was slightly adjusted to our daughter's fit. My granddaughter is 14 and loves looking at it preserved in her mom's closet. I may not see the day but I can rest assured she will also be in the I Magnin's wedding dress on her special day.

  140. I worked for I. Magnin in washington dc at the white flint mall. I loved it and still have a shopping bag from the store. I miss all the great stores from back in the day.

  141. Happy to share on this list that Laykin et Cie, (Precious Jewels) which was located in nearly 20 of the I.Magnin stores at various times from 1939 through 1992 has opened it's first retail salon in over 20 years. Now open in San Marino, CA at 2479 Mission Street.

    1. Grover Magnin invited Sol Laykin to open his fine jewelry salons within the Magnin building. As I Magnin patrons should be able to purchase precious stones along with custom designed gowns and couture.
      First on was in Los Angeles in 1939.

  142. Lillian, Russian Hill10 June, 2021 16:27

    I remember being at Neiman's in the eighties with my new husband and overhearing two salespeople chatting and unaware I could hear them. She said "I hear Magnin's has a Fiorucci shipment in, before us or Sak's." He said "I know. I had applied at Abrocrombie and Magnin's. I really wanted Magnin's." The beautiful girl said "I applied at Magnin's too. Let's go see it after we are off!" We ourselves promptly left and ran across the street. There they were. Black leather Fiorucci jeans from Italy. Saleswomam said "We had 30 at opening today and now 3 left." Hoping the people around the jeans would pass, they did. One was my size. I grabbed it. Hundreds but I had to have them. Label read Fiorucci I Am Coming. Being it is San Francisco my husband owed 4 bars and I always was having to press against the young Marin County and other in city hills women keeping my ground. I sure did. Needless to say the jeans were a big hit on the circuit. I held them for years and finally sold them on Ebay two years ago for more that what I paid for them years ago. In the listing I stated Original Fiorucci I. Magnin. Aggressive last hour bidders. Final bid $490.00 from a Miami buyer. Who says used clothes do not appreciate.

  143. Wow, I can see this thread is quite the read here. I am not surprised. This was I. Magnin. Shopping was such a social exciting event to so many. What happened? How was the horrible Federated Campeau disaster allowed to even happen?
    We have little left to choose from.

    1. There was also Robinson's and Buffums. Amazing all these stores were operating at the same time. Consolidation of cars, airlines, department stores may have been more market efficient and less wasteful but left few options.
      Retired from a career in advertising, what I. Magnin had over all these stores was not only it's prime luxury tier edge. It was the most intriguing, coveted and luring of them all and consumers always checking in to see what they had in. That is marketing brilliance.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  144. Elizabeth Taylor, Dolores Hope and Lenore Annenberg 1981 Palm Springs store. Amazed how shorter in height Taylor was.
    They were similar dressed in sun dresses and oriental pearl necklaces. The store knew them and they were all talking about a new tasty Mexican restaurant that opened. Three armed bodyguards were holding their bags.

  145. What department store chosen by the world's highest paid model in her time?
    But, of course...

  146. Crane and Steel20 June, 2021 10:20

    Modern and lavish DC mall store cost a staggering $40 million in today's cost to build. It was only 2 floors. A record for the DC area. A entire mall can be built for base $50 million. Several locations still hold records for per foot retail build cost in their areas even in today's dollar. Chicago's Magnificent Mile store holds the Mid West record for most expensive department store ever built. San Francisco's building site was sold for a jaw dropping $250 million.

  147. Crane and Steel25 June, 2021 08:38

    Location! Location! Location!
    New York 5th Ave retail cost is costly. Many comments on Bergdorf Goodman comparisons. Bergdorf Goodman is the most expensive US department store per sq foot in real estate land value by itself. Kahn & Jacobs and Vanderbilt originally built Bergdorf Goodman's cast stone multi store building. Saks on 5th exterior is also stone. Both nowhere near I. Magnin's San Francisco, Seattle and Oakland's locations of marble interior and exterior. Bergdorf Goodman later copied I. Magnin with marble flooring.
    As is California retail cost. I. Magnin was built originally as a entire one store in marble. San Francisco flagship store itself holds the record as the most expensive one sole department store building per sq foot ever built in the US before 2000. Using the best architects, exquisite real crystal chandeliers, top of the line showcases and curtains, detail molded walls, gold plated trimmed exterior display windows and revolving doors and, like Rockefeller Center, commissioning art and murals done by renowned artist. Green marble and chandeliers were even used in their extreme world famous bathrooms. Oakland store is of marble green terra cotta at 2001 Broadway St. It screams total building landmark material. As a full chain, size does not matter in the most empirical of retail judgment. I. Magnin was and still is the most expensive chain per sq foot average ever built in the US. There may never be another US chain like it.

    Proximity! Heaven On Earth. To die for!
    Epicenter point in the World - Bond St, Ginza, Champs-Élysées, Hong Kong, 5th Ave? It's Geary at Stockton intersection. Closest narrow street intersection point where two highest end department stores (I. Magnin & Neiman Marcus) ever met… on earth. Excellent Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's are the closest better department stores back to back, on and off Market St, but not quite considered "the highest end". Union Square also held the proximity significance where 3 highest end department stores chains met. I. Magnin, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue were all within feet of each other. Union Square may need a change to keep up it's historic momentum. Although Louis Vuitton is present, I. Magnin building really is now more suitable for a Isetan, Galeries Lafayette or a Harrods. Union Square to Market St proximity is the closest street shopping zone area where better to best department stores sit (Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Bloomindale's)… on the planet.

    Other retail construction data:
    Largest mall? Mall of America? King Of Prussia (better stores also).
    Most desired shopping areas in the US deemed by US and world consumers (in order) -
    New York, San Francisco, Beverly Hills and Chicago.
    Most expensive retail department store intersections in the US -
    Central Park South at 5th Ave (Bergdorf Goodman), Geary at Stockton (I. Magnin site, Neiman Marcus) and Wilshire at S. Roxbury Dr (Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Ave (I. Magnin site).

  148. Great women never do department store world publicity.
    At rare best maybe the one or two here and there, but never lots on one store. Try to name one. There is none. Nowhere in the world.
    If your I. Magnin, that was a way different story.
    Truly, the most famous luxury department store ever in the US.
    Greta Garbo:
    Marilyn Monroe:
    Marlene Dietrich:
    Grace Kelly:
    Vertigo film. Per Kelly and Hitchcock's request, stunning clothing from I. Magnin.
    Jean Harlow:
    Ginger Rogers:
    Lauren Bacall:
    Private client. Very close friend to Joseph Cicio, I. Magnin CEO.
    Katharine Hepburn:
    Even given her demure, absolutely gave a public nod to I. Magnin.
    Lana Turner:
    Bette Davis:

  149. Visions

    My parent's out of town shopping story I remember most. My mother not aware she was born in San Francisco, Natalie Wood at Union Square I. Magnin. My mother got a smile out of her.

    Angelina Jolie: Only known department store photo session blitz. I. Magnin (jewelry from Saks).
    Judy Garland: Her real collection of shoes did not come from Oz.
    Susan Hayward:
    Joan Crawford:
    I. Magnin devotee and Geoffrey Beene confidante.
    Elizabeth Taylor: Too many I. Magnin dress links to post.
    Oprah Winfrey: She lived right across the street. Chicago hairstylist was also from I. Magnin.
    Videos: Pgs 19, 20.
    Lucille Ball: Well known client. Also purchased I. Magnin inventory for Desilu Productions.
    I Love Lucy Personal Checks Signed By Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz Autographed | #510049089 (worthpoint.com)
    Rita Hayworth:
    More Greta Garbo: All roads lead back to Garbo.

    To all,
    Audrey Hepburn:

  150. A senior colleague of mine showed me this blog and it got around. Many of us view this site as industry does with many off work texts about The Department Store Museum. A great site of our history. I am aware industry is on this I. Magnin page. I work here in Dallas for Neiman Marcus Group. Company owns Bergdorf Goodman. We were to merge with Saks. Saks is owned by department store HBC. Hudson's Bay Company is the Macy's of Canada. Neiman Marcus filed for bankruptcy recently and got out of it.
    Interesting recent posts. While they are correct the statistics did not mention after 2000 what is the costliest store building now. Crane and Steel, you alluded to the answer. Actually though, I. Magnin main still bested our Hudson Yards store that closed before it was completely finished, then we pulled out of New York. It was still under $100m. Nordstrom New York estimates may also have been inflated in the press due to it being in New York's newest supertall Central Park Tower and media sales for it's units. Main reasons for the two stores are they are or were a part of bigger New York residential complexes. The Saks flagship renovation takes the new century cake for store renovation only. In the end for actual property sold reality, I. Magnin still holds the US record. They just don't build them like they use to.
    We have been down as has Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's and Saks. Who knows what could happen in the near future. Biggest closures behind I. Magnin that totally shocked us was Marshall Field, Barneys, Lord & Taylor, Dayton Hudson, Strawbridge's and a handful in California.
    Most famous few could really argue. From Joplin and Ronstadt to Madonna, we know. No coincidence Bette Davis and Anne Baxter came to TV with the opulent series Hotel. Several of the wonderful women desertscope named are also women of New York City.
    Bergdorf comparison should be in perspective of quality only. Some comments implied this. I. Magnin easily overtook Bergdorf. Bergdorf is only one store. We never looked at I. Magnin in competition with the Bergdorf entity whatsoever. Finest chain department stores market sector was always Saks, I. Magnin and us Neiman. In addition California by itself would be the 10 largest economy in the world. New York state would not even make it into the top 20. California market easily surpasses New York. There is no comparison. New York and San Francisco have always tended towards more attention and probably always will.
    In women's items and high end designer selections they absolutely ruled. Manhattan, meet Goliath. I. Magnin greatly out did anyone, including us and Bergdorf's and Saks. A customer could be looking at a three thousand Salvatore Ferragamo dress and just slightly turn a see a four thousand Nina Ricci gown and a five thousand Yves Saint Laurent dinner dress. The I. Magnin reality. They had buying and bidding power with European and Asia contracts none of us had, it being cultivated over decades. Some felt with a few choice vendors that the West at times was favored over the East. Not only Dior and Beene, add Yves, Hermes and Vuitton as rumored favoritism. When designers came from abroad to visit a American department store the Emperor was not in New York. He was in San Francisco. There is no coincidence why Vuitton's San Francisco store is at Union Square. Nordstrom service skills were influenced from I. Magnin having the example in Seattle.
    I am not naming names but it was the non I. Magnin corporate owners mismanagement and chaos giving us the worst tragedy in modern day fine stores. Sometimes when I am in New York and out West and I. Magnin is brought up in conversation there always seems to be super attention with a undertone as if something is missing, even tears as if the Titanic sank or a sacred Renoir got destroyed. Industry can be very sensitive and unforgiving on bad corporate decisions made. It's in our blood. I and so many others thank you for this wonderful section on our very much missed, big brother I. Magnin.

  151. Thank you, Dallas for your astute comments, which, I am sure, are appreciated by all visitors to this site.

    I am neither a merchant nor businessman, just someone who enjoys this segment of our history. My initial goal was to put it together in an organized way for the enjoyment of anyone who misses great department stores. I did not expect so many outstanding, insightful comments. I hope I can produce a coffee-table book on the subject one day - comments included!

    1. Yes, right. Disclaimer. Comments are in no way directly those of the any of said companies mentioned.
      Thanks BAK. Great site!

  152. I remember how it just took me away walking into a another world. A place that can do that is unforgettable.

  153. Crane and Steel22 July, 2021 14:52


    Impressive response. Mentions beyond 2020 may not be as clear. Yet answers are common sense. Lord & Taylor building sale. Lord and Taylor was below the highest end but at the top of better department stores. They were no locations on the West Coast. The 5th Avenue sale had a $200 million plus mortgage at time of sale to banks. Net actual value was est $650 million. Snotty New York, all the way down 5th, haha. 5th Avenue entirely laughed at WeWorks over buying and then taking out $150 million equity. Never buy someone's loan. Net per square foot was way under $1,000. Sale was also from retail into, no longer retail, commercial office use. I. Magnin sale there was no added mortgage. Building was free and clear. Net $1,029 per square foot sale. The two most significant department store building sales beyond 2020 so far.

    Domestically, it then makes anyone wonder. The big question is will Nordstrom 225 W. 57th be the new century per square foot winner on a new build store. Figures have been bouncing with inflated pricing, part of a residential project and COVID downturn environment. End figures should be confirmed in the next 24 months. It does appear it should be the new benchmark.

    For me, although they all were nowhere near the most expensive per square foot (and or in real estate per square foot), some other end costs were quite impressive since they were simply so big. I like the big old grand ones and of the biggest in the US ever. Outside of Macy's New York, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia impressed. Marshall Field, Merchandise Mart, Dayton's, Wannamaker's. The massive American department stores. A art deco department store build (non Oakland I. Magnin marble) of the most noted is the Bullocks Wilshire building in Los Angeles. Bullocks Wilshire and Bullock's (separate entities) were considered I. Magin's "little sisters". They were in the better stores segment. Today outside of the US, some the largest and most impressive builds are in the Orient and Europe.

    I estimate our department stores will survive somehow. Barring COVID, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's are rising even with internet now here. Some of the newest nice ones are Nordstrom's and a few Bloomingdale's locations. Will they be a I. Magnin of today. They almost can't be. I. Magnin was also a more specialized retailer. Market has so much changed to a more casual mid to upper mid level good quality for buyers. With higher mortgages and car cost, consumer masses overall have less disposable income as they had so easily decades ago. The new combo will be, if all survive, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, Saks and Neiman. Not the prior classic high brow 3. But, yes, the new top four. Better than nothing.

    Ask Halston, Calvin Klein, Vera Wang and Givenchy companies. Ask, you Dallas. Why much comments on I. Magnin, such fervor on a chain that closed decades ago? I. Magnin gave to the country more, opened America's eyes. More is the key. The West Coast I. Magnin torque factor with Manhattan lifting US retail as a whole greatly forward into today's modern quality, designers everywhere and selection that our younger generations now enjoy and that is now equal with the rest of the world.

    You left 10th Ave way too quickly.
    May Saks survive under HBC.

    Cheers to you, my friend,

    Crane and Steel
    New York, NY

  154. I still can't believe how there stores we just gobbled up. Hudson's, Marshall Field. The Bon Marche and Frederick & Nelson in Seattle. I. Magnin and The Broadway. I go to cities now and they virtually all look the same. No distinct individual identity anymore. It's sad.

  155. Back in 2000 I published a book on I Magnin & Co, mostly on the Magnin family, its early history in San Francisco and chapters on Hollywood and Wilshire stores and the white marble Union Square store. I was very lucky to interview many long time Magnin associates who were leaders in their fields of Cosmetics, Couture Designs, gifts and catalog and advertising production.
    I Magnin was the best of the best. California and the west had its own signature store with its own style and service. We never copied New York.
    I was told by one long time sales associate "From cradle to grave, I Magnin dresses its patrons for life". At 118 years they owned it.

    1. I concur, devX cuir.
      Giorgio Armani wanted a big West Coast splash event and got it. One designer. One department store. $1,334,000 in 2021 sales dollars, in less than 48 hours.
      Armani center stage that shooked the continents. Highest ever recorded 48 hour sales take for one designer at one department store.


  156. Where else could I go for Clarins cosmetics line complete items shopping the Fendi clutch the neighbor Susan down the street at the Lanvin counter dishing it
    to her best friend on Dr Nelson's side gal
    that her other best friend Mrs Nelson had no idea about and at the same time being educated by the sales associate on Donna Karan's latest coming in 4 days. That was total comprehensive shopping. The refined the critical the so unique item from that unknown small town in France made for I. Magnin. I remember those days. Such good comments in a museum that shows it like it was. The good the bad the ugly the awesome. That is what good museums are. TY Bruce.

  157. Who was the manager of the gifts/gourmet department @ I Magnin in 1982 who moved to Seattle in 1983? Jim S____? So nice.

  158. Adele Simpson's sister married Cryil Magnin, son of Joseph Magnin. Several First Ladies wore clothing flown in from I. Magnin before the Washington, DC store location opened. Claudia Alta Johnson, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Rosalynn Carter, Barbara Bush and Nancy Regan. Kennedy's 1960s public scrutinizing on expensive clothing and Nancy's Galanos and Adolfo scandals had I. Magnin and Neiman Marcus written all over it. Ann Lowe and Geoffrey Beene both worked at I. Magnin. I worked at the famed Chicago store with the clients being Wrigley, Winfrey, Zell and Pritzker. Store was still making a huge profit up to 1992 Federated's abrupt and sudden closure. Then in 06 our beloved Marshall Field's. Both were big Chicago statements. I learned the meaning from what may seem nice to what is captivating exquisite.

  159. Loved it that they had Prada before any of the other department stores in California.

  160. Thank you for putting this together, this brings back so many childhood memories.

  161. I have some rare I Magnin Dolls which I maybe selling soon on Ebay.

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