Rich’s department store has been at the heart of Atlanta for almost 125 years. It was a pioneer in retail merchandising and civic involvement. The store founders, Morris Rich and his brothers, Daniel and Emanuel established Rich’s department store in 1891. They divided the merchandise into separate areas with a clerk for each, thus, introducing the department store to Atlanta.
Rich’s was the ultimate in trendsetting. Julian Bond once stated, “We knew in Atlanta that if Rich’s went, so would everybody else. If Rich’s decided to sell green shoes at Christmas time, everybody else would sell green shoes at Christmas time too”.
Their liberal credit and return policies and the belief that the customer is always right inspired customer loyalty. Service to their customer and community was central to their mission.
Not only did Rich’s contribute to the progress of the City of Atlanta, Rich’s contributed to the progress of the Civil Rights movement in Atlanta as well. They made it known that no one group of people would be left behind in the process.
In 1953, Atlanta families and friends were introduced Rich’s Pink Pig Monorail and the lighting of the Rich’s Christmas tree on Thanksgiving Evening. The Pink Pig initially rode around the toy department; and later moved to the roof top with the addition of a second pig named Percival. Thousands of kids were excited because they were able to ride around the store and look at the Christmas tree.
For richer or poorer….during the great depression, the city of Atlanta was unable to pay its teachers in cash, so they issued scrip instead. Rich’s saved the day by cashing the scrip at full value with no obligation to spend the cash in the store.
Rich’s flagship store had 54 escalators moving a distance of 650 miles per day,17 restaurants, cafeterias, and snack bars, serving 14,000 meals per day.
The former downtown Rich’s Department store is now a part of the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center. The US General Services Administration wanted to create this exhibit to document this important chapter in Atlanta’s history.
This exhibit, located on the corner of Broad Street near the south side of the 5 Points Marta Station will be on display until the end of 2004.
Research and background provided by
Atlanta History Center
130 West Paces Ferry Road, N.W.
Atlanta, Georgia 30305
Contact: Hillary Hardwick, Public Relations Manager
U. S. General Services Administration
Jeffrey M. Jensen,
Historic Preservation and Fine Arts Specialist,
Portfolio Management Division,