Family-owned and -operated Von Maur runs nearly 30 upscale department stores in about a dozen midwestern states, offering its customers amenities such as an interest-free credit card, free gift wrapping, and free shipping within the US. The stores range in size from 42,000 to 203,000 sq. ft. and offer clothing from brands such as Burberry, Kenneth Cole, and Tommy Bahama. Distinguishing itself from the rest of the pack, the Von Maur chain has avoided advertising and big blowout sales; it even closes up shop on traditional retailer high-dollar days such as the Fourth of July. The von Maur family opened its first store in Davenport, Iowa, in 1872.
Going forward, Von Maur's growth vehicle will be a new fast-fashion specialty chain aimed at young women called Dry Goods. The first Dry Goods store, which opened in Aurora, Illinois, in fall 2010, is part of a broader Midwest expansion. The retailer plans to open additional Dry Goods stores in shopping centers that are not anchored by a Von Maur department store. The new concept competes with fast-fashion chains, such as Forever 21, Zara and H&M, that are popular with younger women. Ultimately, the family-run chain would like to expand Dry Goods beyond the Midwest.
Since entering the Chicago market in 1994, the Windy City has become Von Maur's largest market. Prior to the onset of the deep recession in the US, Von Maur had announced plans to build two more department stores in the Chicago suburbs, but abandoned them when the economy crashed. – less