Von Maur began in 1872 as a very cozy shop owned by the German immigrant J. H. C. Petersen and his three sons in Davenport, Iowa. It expanded, and was sold in 1916 to R.H. Harned, C.J. von Maur, and Cable von Maur. R.H. Harned passed away in 1937, and the von Maur family completely took over the company at that point.

Through the 1970s and 1980s, Von Maur stores began to crop up all over Iowa and Illinois. These branches were every bit as successful as the flagship store, and as time passed, a few more department stores were acquired under the von Maur name. In 1986, the company began to shift their focus towards malls and the greater range of clientele (plus easier access to the store) that such a place offered. Expansion continued, headquarters moved from their flagship store to a huge building on Brady Street, and the company began to distribute all of its merchandise on its own via this building using their own trucks.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, Von Maur’s expansion spread out into seven new states. By the end of 2008, they had grown to a total of twenty-four stores in the Midwestern United States.

The Von Maur family still privately owns the company today, and several members of the family occupy high-level positions in the corporation. The past decade has seen an immense level of growth for the company. New flagships stores have been opened in multiple states, and Von Maur has spread their reach all across the U.S. Currently, they have over thirty stores in fourteen different states, stretching from the Midwest, down into the South, and up into New York.

Perhaps the most notable thing about Von Maur is how oriented they are towards the middle ground between too pricey and too cheap. While they have fancy extras such as a live pianist who plays music in the store during normal business hours, they also offer free shipping, free online returns, and free gift-wrapping all year long. Their credit card service has no interest, and they are typically located in shopping malls or shopping centers to better serve their customers’ needs. They are the prime example of what a retail experience should be.

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