Goldstein-Migel

In 1886, Wacoans Isaac A. Goldstein and Louey Migel formed the Goldstein-Migel Company in order to try their hand at retail. The partners opened their first store on the ground floor of a building in the 700 block of Austin Avenue with only two clerks in their employ. After just one year of business, Goldstein and Migel possessed sufficient means to annex the adjacent building, thereby doubling their store’s capacity.

The store moved to the corner of Sixth Street and Austin Avenue in the 1890s. The new two-story, double-front brick building allowed Goldstein and Migel to expand the store’s inventory to meet the demands of a rapidly growing customer base. However, on August 18, 1891, tragedy struck when a fire destroyed the entire building. The company lost $80,000 in property damages.

Following the fire, the store was rebuilt and then renovated and expanded several times in the following years. In order to remain competitive with their local rivals, Goldstein-Migel became one of the first dry goods stores in Waco to make use of electric fans, elevators, air conditioning, and public restrooms. The department store even featured a soda fountain and a small restaurant for a time. Goldstein-Migel touted itself in advertisements as “Waco’s greatest department store.” While this claim was certainly embellished for promotional purposes, shoppers could find a variety of quality goods within its walls. The store carried a diverse assortment of clothing, furniture, jewelry, housewares, and other dry goods, spread out in lavishly decorated departments. 

During the second half of the twentieth century, Goldstein-Migel faced the challenges of suburbanization and economic downturn. In a bid to cater to a customer base that was increasingly relocating to the suburbs by the early 1960s, Goldstein-Migel opened a second location at the Lake Air Mall. Not to be forgotten, the original Goldstein-Migel location became one of the centerpieces of the Austin Avenue Pedestrian Mall, an urban renewal project sponsored by the City of Waco in 1970. Urban planners hoped that by closing the street to traffic and beautifying the space, residents would see the downtown as a viable shopping destination once again. Unfortunately, the mall failed to attract the long-term loyalty of customers, and the venture was abandoned in 1984. The demise of the pedestrian mall led to the demolition of Goldstein-Migel’s downtown location and the transfer of all operations to the suburban department store.  Yet not even the suburbs could save Goldstein-Migel when difficult economic times led to the closure of the Lake Air Mall, forcing the department store to cease operations for good.

In spite of a competitive retail industry and the fickle economy, Goldstein-Migel proved its success through over a century of faithful service to Wacoans.

Images

Free Bridge Celebration

Free Bridge Celebration

Goldstein-Migel marked the elimination of the Waco Suspension Bridge toll on September 4, 1889, with a celebratory sale. They set up an elaborate display in front of the store advertising the "lowest prices on everything men, women, and children wear." | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Undefeated by Tragedy

Undefeated by Tragedy

Goldstein-Migel hosted a "rebuilding sale" to fund the renovation and expansion of the store at the corner of Sixth Street and Austin Avenue circa 1907. The owners expanded the store at this location several times in the following years to meet growing customer demand. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Changing Styles (1929)

Changing Styles (1929)

Goldstein-Migel was always looking for creative ways to promote its merchandise. Here, the department store dressed young models in clothes previously sold at the store as part of an advertising campaign entitled "The Evolution of Children's Dress." | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Fred R. Gildersleeve View File Details Page

Ready to Serve (1912)

Ready to Serve (1912)

Goldstein-Migel did not rely solely on foot traffic for sales as evidenced by its fleet of delivery cars pictured here outside the store’s Sixth Street entrance. Touting itself as “Waco’s Greatest Department Store,” Goldstein-Migel sought to use its delivery vehicles as a means to provide both excellent customer service and to extend its reach beyond the downtown core. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Fred R. Gildersleeve View File Details Page

Fashion on Parade

Fashion on Parade

The department store aimed to remain competitive with local rivals through its use of innovative sale and advertising techniques. This postcard depicts large crowds viewing a fashion show Goldstein-Migel put on where models walked a temporary runway set up outside the store. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Haberdashery

Haberdashery

While women formed the principal customer base of Goldstein-Migel in the early twentieth century, the store catered to male clientele by keeping a well-stocked men's department. Sharply dressed sales associates would assist men in selecting clothing appropriate to their needs so as to minimize the tedious nature of shopping. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Fred R. Gildersleeve View File Details Page

The Latest in Home Entertainment

The Latest in Home Entertainment

Goldstein-Migel claimed that customers could meet any of their dry goods needs within their store. This room, for instance, was entirely dedicated to Columbia Grafanolas (record players). | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Fred R. Gildersleeve View File Details Page

Of Urban Renewal and Decline

Of Urban Renewal and Decline

The Austin Avenue Pedestrian Mall attracted large crowds to Goldstein-Migel during its first year of operation, but attendance declined sharply in the years following. Shoppers were increasingly turning away from downtown in favor of retail outlets located in the suburbs. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

For Everything There is a Season

For Everything There is a Season

The failure of the Austin Avenue Pedestrian Mall dealt Goldstein-Migel's downtown location a fatal blow. Operations there were transferred to the location in the Lake Air Mall and the building was torn down in 1984. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Amanda Sawyer, “Goldstein-Migel,” Waco History, accessed May 29, 2017, http://wacohistory.org/items/show/69.

Share this Story