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StevenRocks

Rich's | R.I.P.

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The Pink Pig is safe for now, but the Rich's department store nameplate will soon disappear, along with several regional chains owned by Federated Department Stores. The stores will be folded into the company's Macy's division.

In 1867, when Atlanta was digging out from under the rubble of the Civil War, Morris Rich opened a 20-by-75-foot dry goods store at 36 Whitehall St.

For the next 137 years, store and city grew together. For some, the two are inextricable.

Along with playing a major role in the history of Atlanta, Rich's was known throughout the South as the ultimate regional department store, with its downtown location becoming the largest store in the Southeast.

After being purchased by Federated in 1976, the local influence began to cede to the more national concerns of its parent, but Rich's still retains a modicum of Southern flavor. Whether that flavor remains with the stores rebranded as Macy's is still up in the air.

Rich's place in history is secure, but with myriad shopping choices available and the fading of department stores from the nation's conciousness, does it matter that Rich's is gone? Further, will anything as influential retail-wise emerge from the South again?

Retaed article: Old-time Atlantans sad to see Rich's end

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never heard of it. did they have any in tennessee? sorry to hear it go though, sounds like a lot of people have sentimental attachment to it.

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never heard of it. did they have any in tennessee? sorry to hear it go though, sounds like a lot of people have sentimental attachment to it.

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Rich's is an Atlanta Icon, but was mostly unknown throughout most of the rest of the South. I believe their only real attempts to expand beyond Georgia was in the late 70s-80s with a Target-like subsidary called Richway. Many former Richways were converted into Targets when Federated took over the chain.

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I remember Rich's being all around Atlanta. Well if it makes you all feel any better Florida is also losing a popular department store chain to the Macy's name. Ours was known as Burdines, the Florida Store and before that...Maas Brothers.

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never heard of it. did they have any in tennessee? sorry to hear it go though, sounds like a lot of people have sentimental attachment to it.

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Knoxville had a Rich's downtown back in the 'late '50s or early '60s. I used to have a retail design book that showed it; it was quite a store. They sold the store to Miller's sometime later and I think Miller's closed it in the '80s.

Soon, Miller's was sold to Allied Stores, Allied sold Miller's to Hess's, and Hess's sold out to Proffitt's

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Rich's is an Atlanta Icon, but was mostly unknown throughout most of the rest of the South.  I believe their only real attempts to expand beyond Georgia was in the late 70s-80s with a Target-like subsidary called Richway.  Many former Richways were converted into Targets when Federated took over the chain.

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Rich's did expand out with Richway (eventually sold to Target, BTW) , but they also had a Knoxville store back in the '50s, and expanded to Birmingham, Columbia and Greenville with fairly substantial stores. They were even one of the early proposed anchors of Carolina Place mall outside Charlotte, but Federated pulled out of the project when it filed bankruptcy.

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never heard of it. did they have any in tennessee? sorry to hear it go though, sounds like a lot of people have sentimental attachment to it.

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I think Goldsmith's in Tenn. is the equivilant of Rich's...

So sad to see them all be "Macy-fied" though

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Nothing like a little history; I grabbed this off Federated's website.

Rich's department store is often referred to as a Southern institution because of its history, its attitude and its philosophy.

Since its beginning in 1867, the philosophy has been that the store is more than a collection of merchandise, it is the sum and substance of its people, both customers and employees. This preoccupation with people has led to Rich's involvement in the communities it serves.

Rich's heritage dates back to the dream of a young immigrant who came to this country to seek his fame and fortune. Morris Rich borrowed $500 from his brother William, and on May 28, 1867 opened a small retail store on Whitehall Street in Atlanta. M. Rich and Brothers had five employees and the first year's volume was $5000.

Rich's has been an integral part of the Atlanta community in all of its years of doing business. At times when farmers lost their markets for cotton, Rich's accepted the crops in exchange for merchandise. Walter Rich considered this to be sound business practice. In the mid-1900s when the City of Atlanta could not pay its schoolteachers, Rich's cashed the teachers' worthless checks, agreeing to wait until the city was able to reimburse the store. Rich's and the community were so intertwined that the Saturday Evening Post once referred to Rich's as the Store that married a City.

Rich's now operates sixteen stores in metro Atlanta as well as in Augusta, Savannah, Athens, Macon and Columbus, Georgia. Rich's also operates three stores in Birmingham, Alabama and stores in Greenville and Columbia, South Carolina. In 1976, Rich's merged with Federated Department Stores, joining forces with one of the nation's strongest merchandising organizations. Rich's growth to its present influence in the South and its nationwide recognition are based on the perception and vision of its founder. The sound business principles and indomitable faith in the future have guided the store through more than a century of progress.

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Rich's did expand out with Richway (eventually sold to Target, BTW) ,

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Actually Rich's sold Richway to Federated which converted the stores to Gold Circle which were then bought out by Target shortly there after. Many Richways when through this transformation Richway -> Gold Circle -> Target -> Closed.

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Actually Rich's sold Richway to Federated which converted the stores to Gold Circle which were then bought out by Target shortly there after.  Many Richways when through this transformation  Richway -> Gold Circle -> Target -> Closed.

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Yeah, you're right :)

I try to be thorough, but sometimes I miss some of the details. Thanks monsoon!

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Are any of the old Richway stores still Target stores today?

I have to admit, despite my love of all things retail, I've only been to Rich's once. In 2000, I went to the Savannah store at Oglethorpe Mall, which wasn't exactly awe-inspiring. I just HAD to see it though :)

The first and only time I went to Atlanta in 1986 as a child, we went to two Macy's: Downtown and Gwinnett Place (both closed), but I wasn't familiar enough with Rich's to realize I should have gone there, and didn't know Atlanta well enough to keep on down the street when I was on Peachtree.

I do remember the Rich's at Gwinnett Place being really shiny on the outside :)

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I remember when Gold Circle on Independence in Clt. became Target.. a long time ago.

Isn't that where BJ's is located now?

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Are any of the old Richway stores still Target stores today?

Sandy Springs and Smyrna. They still have the old wedge shapes on the roof like Richway and are basically one in the same except for the main entryway. I remember Richway well and remember the changeover in 1989. There are some other former Richways still around, but all have been significantly modified. Value City opened in several former locations.

I have to admit, despite my love of all things retail, I've only been to Rich's once. In 2000, I went to the Savannah store at Oglethorpe Mall, which wasn't exactly awe-inspiring. I just HAD to see it though :)

A friend of mine got me pics of the Rich's at Oglethorpe both inside and out. It actually is quite inspiring from the mall entrances.

The first and only time I went to Atlanta in 1986 as a child, we went to two Macy's: Downtown and Gwinnett Place (both closed), but I wasn't familiar enough with Rich's to realize I should have gone there, and didn't know Atlanta well enough to keep on down the street when I was on Peachtree.

Remember that Macy's was originally Davison's. The only Atlanta Macy's that was NOT Davison's prior to the Rich's changeover was the store at Town Center Mall. All the rest were part of the Davison's division of Macy's, which vaporized in 1985. There are several vacant former Macy's/Davison's stores across Atlanta, and the Macy's/Rich's in Macon and Athens started out as Davison's. The former Macy's/Davison's at Cumberland Mall in Atlanta is currently being demolished for a new open-air wing to the mall.

I do remember the Rich's at Gwinnett Place being really shiny on the outside :)

Yes, it's all mirrorglass and I have plentiful pics of that. It is a beautiful site on the exterior, but a rather bland store inside with an ugly mall entrance. My absolute favorite Rich's was the long gone and forgotten Cobb Center store (especially when it had a mall wrapping around it) and my second favorite was the Cumberland Mall store with its odd mall entrance. I really took it personal to see Rich's go, but I knew it was coming and I fortunately saved most of these on my digital camera in time.

Each Rich's had something unique about it. The oldest stores had green signs that bring back memories of Cobb Center and the old downtown store. The green signs are/were found at downtown, North Dekalb, South Dekalb, Belvedere (long gone), Greenbriar, Cobb Center and Lenox Square (originally). Cumberland I seem to recall having a green sign on the parking deck entrance as well, but this was not found when the last pics were taken of it. The newer signs were very odd in how they tried to light up black signs. The new Macy's signs haven't been turned on yet, so I can't really tell you what those are like.

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GeorgiaRoadGuy is the man :)

Thanks for the info on Richway and the other Rich's stores. I have to admit that Oglethorpe Mall had a good Rich's overall. I guess with all the hopes I had built up for my first Rich's visit, there was no way that the place could have lived up to my expectations. If it makes it any better, I was underwhelmed by the Belk out there too. :P

I'm looking forward to more the Rich's tribute site at http://www.angelfire.com/ri2/richstribute/. What I've seen so far got a mention on my blog at http://stevenswain.blogspot.com/2005/03/richs-tribute.html/

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Isn't that where BJ's is located now?

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Indeed it is, but the orginal building is gone. Richway used to build buildings with these distictive multicolored skylights on the roof. Target hung a suspended ceiling over them .

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That sounds right, because the Richways seemed more airy and futuristic looking on the inside than the Targets currently there. That with the orange decor made them seem truly surreal from what I remember. I sure miss that.

Indeed it is, but the orginal building is gone. Richway used to build buildings with these distictive multicolored skylights on the roof. Target hung a suspended ceiling over them .

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Actually Rich's sold Richway to Federated which converted the stores to Gold Circle which were then bought out by Target shortly there after.  Many Richways when through this transformation  Richway -> Gold Circle -> Target -> Closed.

Let me clear this up for most of you.  Maybe it became Gold Circle in the outlying areas, but it was ALWAYS Richway in the Atlanta area.  Richway was always Federated owned, founded in 1968.  Rich's, however, did not go out of the family until 1976.  I assume Federated bought the naming rights to use the Rich family name on their discount division prior to the takeover, but it said a lot that Federated had their eyes firmly fixed on the Atlanta icon from the day they began expanding into the suburbs.  Both Richway and Gold Circle closed in 1988 with Target taking over all the former locations in their expansion into the southeast.

From what I understand, Richway was actually the discount division of both Rich's and Burdine's (and possibly Goldsmith's).  Nevertheless, Richway was in some locations that Rich's itself never expanded to including Chattanooga and Gastonia.  I remember it distinctly in Columbia as well with a location on St. Andrews Road near Irmo.  Since I was accustomed to Richway and Rich's being everything and I was a kid at the time, I thought both were nationwide chains so I thought nothing of Richway or Rich's in Columbia during the brief time I lived there.

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