John Shillito & Co. (commonly known as Shillito's) was Cincinnati's first department store. It was founded by John Shillito (1809-1879) and William McLaughlin in 1830 as "McLaughlin & Shillito", but their partnership soon broke up. In 1857, Shillito, then operating on his own, built a store on Cincinnati's Fourth Street, designed by James W. McLaughlin, the son of his former partner. In 1878, Shillito's moved to a new landmark building on Race and Seventh streets, also designed by James McLaughlin. The fashionable new store had eight floors, five elevators, over 800,000 sf of space, and employed over 1000 people.
After the 1925 death of John's son and successor, Stewart Shillito, Shillito's was sold to the F&R Lazarus Co. in 1928, which became a founding partner in Federated Department Stores a year later.
In several ways, Shillito’s became the first department store to embrace the African-American community. In 1946 it was the nation’s first department store to give credit to African-Americans, as well as employ them as salespeople and executives. The store’s restaurant was the first in downtown Cincinnati to serve African-American customers.
Branch stores were built at new outlying suburban malls: Tri-County Mall (1960), Western Woods (1963), Beechmont Mall (1969), Oxmoor Mall (Louisville, Kentucky, 1971), Fayette Mall (Lexington, Kentucky, 1971), Florence Mall (Florence, Kentucky, 1977) and Jefferson Mall (Louisville, 1979).
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