The Buildings and Business Houses of Grand Rapids --Dry Goods House of Spring & Avery

One of the largest and most successful dry goods houses in northwesternMichigan is that owned and conducted by Messrs. Spring & Avery, atGrand Rapids. This extensive establishment, which is now located in thenew and beautiful Crawford Block, at the foot of Monroe street, which wasfirst started in 1861, twelve years ago, on Canal street. During the firstyear the firm did a business of about $40,000, which has since increased,year after year, until in 1873 their sales exceeded $300,000. This greatincrease of business is grandly significant of the rapid growth of thecity, and perhaps, has had not a little to do with promoting it. The firmcontinued their business on Canal street for one winter, and then removedto No. 4 Monroe Street, where they remained, doing a successful businessuntil the winter of 1873-4, when they removed to their new and elegantstore at the foot of Monroe Street. This is one of the finest interiors,being the best lighted and completely appointed of any house in northwesternMichigan. It is four stories and a basement, each 44x100 feet, all of whichare occupied by the business of Messrs. Spring & Avery. The basementis devoted to the wholesale trade, in which this firm are now doing a largeand rapidly increasing business.

The main floor is devoted to the retailing of staple and fancy dry goods,cloths, shawls, etc. The second floor is occupied by the high-priced carpets,such as Moquettes, Body Brussels, Axminsters, etc. This is, in itself,the largest carpet house in Grand River Valley, and for variety and fullnessof stock, is quite equal to older eastern houses. The third floor is devotedto a cheaper grade of carpets, oils cloths, straw carpets, etc. This flooralone constitutes a very extensive carpet establishment, containing a verylarge and choice stock of all the cheaper carpets. The fourth floor isdevoted to the manufacture of carpets for the retail trade.

Thus it will be seen that this extensive house is fourfold, or thatit embraces four extensive floors, on each of which an active and profitablebusiness is conducted.

That such an immense establishment should up in the short period oftwelve years is not a little flattering to the prospects of this section.It bespeaks a healthy industry and a fast growing commerce for the ValleyCity.

Messrs. Henry Spring and Edward Avery, the members of this firm, areboth residents of Grand Rapids of high reputation. In matters of businessthey have established an unshaken confidence in every person, thus enablingthem to place the products of every market, both eastern and European,before their numerous patrons of Northwestern Michigan.

Their retail dry goods department, which is on the main floor, containsall the appointments known to the modern exposition room. The fixturesare of the most elegant kind, and the very large plate glass windows admita volume of light that seems to enliven the whole aspect. The floor isdivided into regular departments. On the right of the front entrance wehave the domestic goods. Next come the flannels, linens and lastly thecloths and casimers. On the left we have the dress goods, extending invarious grades a distance of nearly one hundred feet. First we find thecheaper grades, then they become higher and finer until we come to thesilks, which include a splendid line of black and colored. Beyond this,still further on, are the cloaks and shawls, where, by the aid of largemirrors, the customer may test the effect and appearance of the many styles.In centre of this floor we have first, as we enter, the fancy and staplenotions, which embrace a complete variety. In the rear of this is the cashier’sdesk, and still beyond is the broad walnut staircase leading to the carpetdepartment on the next floor. On the right of this is the private officeof the firm.

I have no space here to enter into a description of the carpet department,but it will suffice to say that it is in itself a complete and extensivecarpet house, containing the largest and most desirable stock of carpetsin this section of the country.

In prosecuting this extensive business Messrs. Spring & Avery employsome thirty persons, clerks, book keepers, salesmen etc. Among their salesmenwill be found not only the expert talker, but gentlemen -- residents ofGrand Rapids -- who have established themselves in the confidence of theiremployees and in the favor and esteem of their patrons.

Document Source: Tuttle, Charles R., Historyof Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids: Tuttle & Cooney, 1874.
Transcriber: Jennifer Godwin
Total Names: 2
Created: 16 July 2000