Donaldson's, Minneapolis, Minnesota



A beautifully produced, luxury-class
book about Minnesota's fabled
department stores, from Dayton's
to Young-Quinlan.

Like many North American department stores,
Donaldson's evolved over time; its modern, art-deco
front covered an ancient, 1884 fragment, while the large
neo-classical block was a vestige of an abortive
expansion plan of the 1920s.

L.S. Donaldson Co.
Nicollet at 7th
Minneapolis, Minnesota

FEderal 2-3113

Donaldson's Basement Budget Store

Street Floor
Fine Jewelry L024  Costume Jewelry 240  Handbags 250  Leather Goods 254  Gloves 230  Hosiery 260, 265  Hat Bar  Our Wonderful World of Beauty 300  Shoe Salon 210  Women's Shoes 211-213 • Neckwear 224  Hankies 229  Street Floor Sportswear 146 • 2-Gether Shop  Street Floor Sleepwear 271, 273  Street Floor Lingerie 273  Notions 310  Drugs 305  Optical  Stationery 320  Men's Furnishings 410  Men's Sportswear 431  Flowers  Optical L330

Men's Clothing 400  Sporting Goods 820  Ski Shop  AAA World Travel

Second Floor
Budget Dresses 138  Daytime Dresses 190  Sportswear 149-150 • Coordinates 138  Swimwear  Career Dresses 135  1/2 Size Center 137  Women's World 153  Coats 110  Estate Shop 148  Contemporary Sportswear  Expression  Pacesetter Shop  Fur Salon  Junior Dresses 165-166  Young Juniors 171  Innovations  Millinery  Body Fashions  Lingerie 275  Beauty Shop  Children's Shoes 220  

Third Floor
Young World Infants' Wear  Children's Wear  Girls' Wear 170  Boys' Wear 440  Domestics 550  Bedspreads 570  Linens 570  Fabrics • Art Needle 540  Sewing Machines  Portrait Studio

Fourth Floor
Housewares 670, 671  Unpainted Furniture 675  Magicolor Paint  China 650 • Dinnerware  Luggage 815  Fix-All Shop  Draperies 630, 631  Curtains 635  Slipcovers 632  Pictures  Lamps 640  Carpeting  North Shore Grill

Fifth Floor
Upholstered Furniture 605  Furniture 618  Casual Furniture 615  Dual Sleep  Air Conditioners  Music Center 710  Refrigerators 720  Washers and Dryers 770  TV  Records 779  Garden Room  Employment Office

Sixth Floor

Seventh Floor
Training Room

Street Floor
Fine Jewelry L024  Costume Jewelry 240  Handbags 250  Leather goods 254  Gloves 230  Hosiery 260, 265  Hat Bar  Neckwear 224  Hankies 229  Our Wonderful World of Beauty 300  Shoe Salon 210  Women's Shoes 211-213 • Street Floor Sportswear 146 • 2-Gether Shop  Street Floor Sleepwear 273  Street Floor Lingerie 271, 273  Notions 310  Drugs 300  Stationery 320  Fabrics  Men's Furnishings 410  Men's Sportswear 431  Men's Clothing  Sporting Goods  Luggage 815  Flowers

Fix-All Shop  TV  Music Center  Records 779  Sporting Goods 820  

Second Floor
Infants' Wear  Children's Wear  Girls' Wear 170  Children's Shoes 220  Boys' Wear 440  
Bedspreads 570  Linens  Art Needle 540  Sewing Machines  Air Conditioners  Portrait Studio

Third Floor
Budget Dresses 138  Daytime Dresses 190  Sportswear 149-150  Coordinates 148 • Swimwear  Moderate Dresses 135  Estate Shop 148  Contemporary Sportswear  Expression  Pacesetter ShopJunior Dresses 165-166  Young Juniors 171  Coats 110  Millinery  Body Fashions 280 • Lingerie 275  1/2 Size Center 137  Women's World 153

Fourth Floor
Casual Furniture 615  Furniture 618  Upholstered Furniture 605

Fifth Floor
China 650  Dinnerware  Draperies 630, 631 • Curtains 635  Slipcovers 632

Sixth Floor
Housewares 670, 671  Unpainted Furniture 675  Lamps  640  Pictures Fabrics Carpeting  Music Center 710  Refrigerators 720  Washers and Dryers 770  Magicolor Paint
The Capitol Grill

Saint Paul
Seventh and Robert Streets

Rapid City, SD
Saint Joseph St. at 7th

Miracle Mile Shopping Center

179,000 s.f.

Minnesota Room
Brooklyn Center
140,000 s.f.

August, 1969
160,000 s.f.

Apache Mall

124,000 s.f.


  1. I completely forgot Donaldson's forgettable Rochester Apache Mall store. The Miracle Mile store had wonderfully quirky architecture. I shopped there. Donaldson's really didn't get malls, so Dayton's killed them, I think. Never shopped it in the 'Cities because of that when I got up there.

  2. I'm wondering if anyone has information about the train that ran on the ceiling of the Downtown Minneapolis store in the late 40s and early 50s. I remember riding on it and looking down at the shoppers. How long was it in service? Does anyone have pictures of it.

    1. I rode it too. Thought i had dreamt it as Daytons had no info on it

    2. Yes. Me too
      I thought it was a dream for many years

  3. Hi! Thank you for the incredible work you've done on this site. I have several charge cards from several department stores to share; additionally, I have a 1940s matchbook with the original Donaldson's left=italic logo to share. That one was always my favorite. --David in Chicago

  4. I remember the train as well, but my family thinks I'm nuts and there was no such thing. :(
    John in MG

  5. Just saw this Blog while searching around. Over Xmas 2012 I was visiting my Dad. He showed me some letters from his Dad. Here's a letter of recommendation from Donaldson's from pre-1919.

    I see W.D.Desmond is verified out here,

    Neat stuff.

  6. Dayton's Department store in Minneapolis, MN had the following animated Christmas holiday displays in their 8th floor auditorium:

    Dayton’s mechanical displays in the 8th floor auditorium

    1966 Dickens London Towne,
    1967 Dickens Village ’67,
    1968 Under the Christmas Tree
    1969 Peter Pan
    1970 Santa’s Toy Workshop
    1971 Santa’s TV Studio
    1972 Joy to the World (Joan Walsh Anglund)
    1973 The Nutcracker Fantasy
    1974 Grandma Moses’ Christmas in the Country
    1975 Twas The Night Before Christmas
    1976 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    1977 How the Grinch Stole Christmas
    1978 Once Upon a Christmastime
    1979 Babes in Toyland
    1980 Alice’s Wonderland Christmas
    1981 Hansel and Grettle
    1982 Pippi Longstocking
    1983 Babar and Father Christmas
    1984 Animalen, The Peaceable Kingdom
    1985 The Velveteen Rabbit
    1986 Santa Bear’s First Christmas
    1987 Santa Bear’s High Flying Adventure
    1988 The Polar Express
    1989 Cinderella
    1990 Peter Pan
    1991 Pinocchio
    1992 Puss in Boots
    1993 Beauty and the Beast
    1994 The Wizard of OZ
    1995 The Wind in the Willows
    1996 A Christmas Carol
    1997 The Nutcracker (Maurice Sendak)
    1998 How the Grinch Stole Christmas
    1999 The Twelve Days of Christmas
    2000 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

  7. I grew up in the Mpls. suburbs in the 50's and 60's. I rode the ceiling train several times as a child. Also, there were mechanical displays before 1966 I believe. Also when we went to visit Santa Claus at Christmas time there were probably 7 or 8 of them. There would be walled off corridors to each of them so the kids thought there was only the one real Santa. I also went to a Saturday AM event for several weeks called Glamorama for teen and tween girls. I am not sure if this was at Donaldsons or Daytons but we got a bright pink foil covered round hat box and a few accessories and spent our Sat. AM's learning proper manners, how to walk graciously, make up tips, etc.

  8. I worked for Eddie in the Cafe and he was known as "I am the Boss"

    and why Eddie did not have a club years later is be-on me.

    Eddie could of had been famous enough. such as

    and toll free number 1-855-I-Am-Boss.
    and locally, 1-612-I-am-Boss.
    and website www. I_am_the_Boss_Comedy

    So, if anyone whom once worked for Donaldsons and knew Eddie, how about playing a Pre-April Fools Joke on him?

    As fair as Daytons. Relax, the Gov sold out.and it was the Ecomony in the late 70's and early 80's.

  9. Does anyone remember the Donaldson's jingle? I still hear it in my head. It goes something like this, unless I have the wrong store:

    Exciting things are happening at Donaldson's
    'Cause Donaldson's a most exciting store
    The friendly people there
    Will show you that they care
    With values that will always save you more
    'Cause Donaldson's a most inviting
    Donaldson's a most ...
    Donaldson's a most exciting store!

    I cannot find it on the Internet.

  10. I was so happy to read the info on this site. My family also told me that I imagined the ceiling train! I was very young at the time, maybe 3 or 4. My siblings were older but they don't remember it! I also remember a white balloon that had another balloon inside of it and "snow." They told me that I imagined those as well! Does anyone remember those?

  11. You bet they had both the train and those "double balloons". I think you got the balloon after you saw Santa. Our Christmas was never complete without a visit to Donaldson's to see Santa, have our pictures taken and ride on the train. Great marketing when you think of it. That train gave those kids a birds-eye view of the entire toy dept. You could do a little last minute tuning of your Christmas list! After that you went to the Nankin for lunch, or maybe the Forum then a ride home on the street car. Everyone downtown seemed to smell like wet wool.

  12. Does anybody remember the "Mr. Shirley" ads for Donaldson's in the early 1980s? My family LOVED those...

    1. Those ads w
      ere for Dayton's Warehouse sales

  13. Anyone know of the Donaldson delivery stables on University Ave. in St. Paul?

  14. there was not a donaldsons at apache mall there was montgomery ward jcpenney and daytons

  15. there was not a donaldsons at apache mall there was montgomery ward jcpenney and daytons

  16. Hello, I'm doing some research into Donaldson's in the 1940s. Does anyone know of any staff still living from that period with memories of the store? thanks Antonio

  17. My family also has told me I clearly imagined the train. I was approximately 3-4 years old in 1946-7 when my family travel up from Lacrosse to see the Xmas windows and the Ice Follies. I remember the train circled the entire ceiling. There was a ticket booth in the center of the room, not sure if you paid or just took a number. Then my brother and I walked up a ramp in the far end of the room to board the train. Fantastic. One of my greatest, most enduring childhood memories, and my mother, who photographed everything, apparently didn't have her camera. Has anyone been able to find any photos of the train online, or does anyone have any personal photos they'd be willing to share. Maybe 15-20 years ago, someone asked the Mr. Fixit column in the Star and Tribune what had the Xmas train, so i had a head start on my vindication.

  18. I am the great grandson of William Donaldson who founded Donaldson's Department stire with his brother Lawrence. When William died I was told that Lawrence cheated William's children out of their share of the busihess .. my Grandmother, daughter of William, wanted nothing more to do with that sude of the family and, as a result, I know very little about them. Can anyone point me to links that could help me learn more? - George Donaldson Fisher

  19. Hello. Have you considered contacting the current owners of the L.S. Donaldson home? I read that they carefully restored the home to its original condition so surely research was involved. They may have access to documents or information that would be beneficial to you. I have come across very little information online. Best of luck!

  20. Also, please check theMinnesota Historical Society Library in St. Paul. They have Donaldson company records from 1882-1980 (11 boxes) and also have two books on the L.S. Donaldson home (authored by the current owners).

  21. I have so many memories of Donaldson's. Working at the Southdale store was my first job ever and I floated a lot and was able to work in many different departments. Spent most time in hats and men's furnishings. I was on the Teen Board for Richfield High School and remember one Saturday, many of the Teen Board representatives were in the Nicollet Aveue window styling the new dynel wigs for each other! It was so much fun! I worked a few years into college and then left, but memories of Donaldson's are still strong. I don't remember a ceiling train in the downtown store, but when mom took us downtown to shop, I think we spent more time in Daytons, John W. Thomas and Rothchild's. Remember those?

  22. This is first time I've ever 'blogged'. Hope it works!.... When cleaning my 94 year old mom's house, I found a wooden "Donaldsons Men's Shop" wooden hanger. Does anyone know of any one/place interested in receiving it?

  23. I have a wooden hanger "Donaldsons Mens Shop". Does anyone know who might like to have this. I hate to discard it.

    1. I would take this hangar please visit my blog and read at the donations page for further details
      Thanks LENO

  24. Seems to me there was a Donaldsons at the Knollwood Plaza Mall ? Anyone know more about it?

    1. That would likely be after they acquired some of Powers stores in the later 1980s or so. It didn't work out for them very well, and this period is really out of the scope of this Museum-site.

  25. I was an Investigator working in Loss Prevention for the Rochester store in 1986. I'm trying to find the name of the xmas brown bear( complete with red corduroy Santa suit)that I bought there in 1986. Mine's in perfect condition and it's really a reminder of a simplier time.
    Dayton's had their 1986 Santa bear, which has been quite a collectible.

  26. Does anyone know of a department store that had a full size indoor carousel in 1936? My mother-in-law recalls one. They also had a Shirley Temple room.

  27. Debbie Eberhardt14 November, 2017 19:32

    I loved working there in the 80's with Nancy Ondler as store manager. Great work environment and a lot of fun.

  28. I worked in the toy dept. in 1970. under the dept. manager ms durham.

  29. Fond memories of Donaldson's ... I sold China, Crystal, and Silver at the Minneapolis store on Nicollet Mall as a Christmas-season associate in 1979. I loved creating displays and even received a compliment from the store manager during one of his morning walk-throughs. There was nothing as magical as a old-style department store at Christmas!

  30. I found a framed picture of a little girl staring up at bluebird with 2 red donaldsons stickers on back.looks older.lower front of pic says John Dresher co. N.Y. can't find anything on them.anyone else have art from there or think it's worth anything

  31. Does anyone remember what store had a slide for the children to slide while our patents walked the steps? I remember the train. Many memories of Mpls.

    1. The slide was an orange elephant slide on the 4th floor of Dayton's downtown.

  32. Does anyone remember the blueberry muffins? They were awesome. I used to work in the commissary office in the early 1970's and sure wish I could find the recipe for them. I had one every day for break and never got sick of them!!!

  33. The Maple Frango was the best ever - recipe was published in one of the first 'Taste' cookbooks from the Star & Tribune. It was served in a silver ice cream dish.

    1. Yes! Their Franco was truly a tast treat. If I had lunch or dinner there that was always my dessert.

  34. I have a 1928 spring catalog called "Fashion Dial", L.S. Donaldson Company, Minneapolis Minnesota. Also labelled "The New Modes of Modern Chic". If anyone is interested then please email me at NOT the gmail account.

  35. I would just like it to have a good home...Sue


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