Ads From The 1800s

Although this advertisement is specifically about a new kind of shoe, in my research, I found that the history of Best & Co. and the Liliputian Bazaar is the really interesting story.

Best & Co. began in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1879, but soon moved its headquarters to New York, where most famous retail stores were/are located.  They were a unique company in that they specialized in children's clothing (newborn to 16 years old).  In addition, they were one of the first children's clothing stores to truly create separate departments  including boys and youths, girls and misses, and babies.  In addition to these departments, they also had departments for boots, hats, neckwear, stockings, underwear, toys, and books.

From a children's department store, they expanded to include "tastefully styled and proper women's clothes."  It eventually moved into a beautiful 12-story white, marble building on the infamous Fifth Avenue (and 51st street).  Locations continued to multiple from state to state, and in 1966, Best & Co. had 20 branch locations in operation.  But as with most giants, Best & Co. was about to fall. 

In late 1970, the owners liquidated Best & Co and its remaining twelve branch stores.  The beautiful 12-story location on Fifth Avenue was torn down, and the Olympic Tower was built in its place.  That seemed to be the end of Best & Co., but here is where the story gets interesting.

In 1997, Susie Hilfiger, wife of the famous Tommy Hilfiger, bought an existing children's boutique in Greenwich, Connecticut (the original starting place of Best & Co.) and renamed the store "Best & Co."  By 2001, Best & Co., was repeating its original trek from over a century ago and expanding back into New York.  After changing hands a few times, what was once a "dead brand" has now been revived.  Although their website is currently down (, the new brand claims "Est. 1897" from the original brand, which begs the question, "What does it take to revive a brand?"  And can you call it the same brand or claim "established in 1879" when the original brand was defunct for decades?  Its not just Best & Co. that has a story like this.  Abercrombie & Fitch was originally founded in 1892 as a sporting and excursion goods store, which was noted for its expensive shotguns, fishing, rods, and tents.  Though still expensive today, the current Abercrombie & Fitch retail store was reborn out of "Oshman's Sporting Goods" around 1997.  They too were a "dead brand" (more than once) and are now a booming business.  This has made me wonder if more "dead brands" from the past will suddenly reappear in the years to come...or if some brands that have endured hard times during our current economic conditions will find rebirth decades down the road.  If history repeats itself, I would say there is a good chance it will happen.  

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