Through two world wars, the Great Depression, recessions, massive retail consolidation, and the rise of the internet and alternative shopping, 150-year-old Von Maur has managed to survive and slowly grow over the of its 150 years of history. The key to its sustainability: operating department stores that are pleasant, serene and easy to shop; selective opening and closing of stores; maintain a relatively large payroll to provide service on the sales floors; never go into too much debt; have a long-term view of growth; remain independent; and, perhaps most important of all, having a loyal customer base.
1872: JHC Petersen & Sons Co. is founded on West Second Street in Davenport, Iowa.
1887: Charles Jacob “CJ” von Maur, RH Harned and EC Pursel establish the Boston Store at the corner of Second Brady Streets in Davenport.
1889: Pursel dies and Boston Store becomes Harned & Von Maur.
1916: Harned and von Maur buy JHC Petersen & Sons and continue to operate the stores separately.
1928: Harned, Von Maur and JHC Petersen & Sons merge to become Petersen Harned Von Maur, nicknamed “Petersen’s” by customers.
1929: Petersen’s buys the Fisk and Loosley department store in Moline, Illinois, and closes it three years later.
1961: Petersen returns to Moline through the purchase of a furniture store in the Orchard Center Shopping Plaza; the store closed in 1982.
1968: Petersen’s buys the Van Allen department store in Clinton, Iowa.
1970: Petersen’s buys the ML Parker department store at Second and Brady streets in Davenport; the store closed in 1971.
1972: Petersen celebrates a century of business and opens its first mall at Duck Creek Plaza in Bettendorf, Iowa; the store closed in 1999.
1974: Petersen opens in Moline, Illinois.
1975: Petersen’s expands to West Des Moines.
1979: Petersen opens in Muscatine, Iowa; the store closed in 1994.
1980: Petersen opens in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; the store closed in 2007.
1981: Petersen’s opens three stores in Iowa.
1986: The Petersen store in downtown Davenport closes.
1987: Petersen opens in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
1989: Petersen’s purchases two stores in Illinois, Hickory Point Mall in Decatur and College Hills Mall in Normal. Jack Arth becomes the first person outside the von Maur family to be named president.
1989: The company shortens its name from Petersen Harned Von Maur to Von Maur.
1990: Company headquarters moved from the former Petersen store in downtown Davenport to the north side of Davenport on Interstate 80.
1994: Von Maur enters the Chicago market with a flagship at Yorktown Center in Lombard, Illinois.
1995-2005: Von Maur’s expansion continues in Omaha and Lincoln, Neb. ; Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, Indiana; Eden Prairie, Minnesota; St. Charles and Glenview, Illinois; Wichita, Kansas; Ann Arbor and Livonia, Michigan; Louisville, Kentucky; and Columbus, Ohio.
2007: Von Maur launches online shopping.
2008-2010: opening of Von Maur department stores in Dayton, Ohio; Overland Park, Kan.; and Lake St. Louis, Mo.
2010: Von Maur’s first dry goods store opens in Aurora, Illinois; an e-commerce distribution center is opening near the company’s headquarters.
2011-2012: Von Maur enters the Atlanta market, opening first in Alpharetta, Ga., and Dunwoody, Ga.
2013: Von Maur enters the Northeast, opening a store just outside of Rochester, NY The same week, a store opens in suburban Birmingham, Ala. The Iowa City store moves to Coralville.
2014: The first Von Maur store opens in the Southwest in Oklahoma City.
2016: Von Maur opens its third store in Atlanta, in the Mall of Georgia, one of the largest malls in the country.
2017: Von Maur enters the Milwaukee market with a unit in Brookfield, Wis.
2022: Von Maur opens in Detroit; Madison, Wis.; and Des Moines, Iowa.