by Laurel | May 12th, 2010
May 12, 1935
Head of Stores Here, at Holyoke and at Hartford Felicitated by Friends and Employees — Book Presented
Albert Steiger will be 75 years old today and employees of his Springfield, Holyoke and Hartford stores yesterday acclaimed the occasion. In this city, Mr. Steiger was given a surprise testimonial when veteran employees gathered around him to extend birthday congratulations and to give him an Italian leather book, bearing the Steiger crest, with a birthday greeting inscribed and a picture of the Springfield store adorning it. In addition there were 75 red roses in a red vase and a birthday cake with 75 candles.
Mr. Steiger was born in Ravensberg, Germany, May 12 1869, the oldest child of Jacob and Mary (Feterbend) Steiger, and spent the first 10 years of his life in that community. In 1870, he came with his parents to this country, settling in Huntington. In the following three years he lost his father, grandfather, uncle and brother, being thus left head of the family, which then consisted of his mother, himself and two younger sisters.
Began Work at 13
At 13, Albert left school and began selling goods in a small way, obtaining his stock from the mill with which his father had been connected. In his travels he became acquaintance with Ralph Gillette, a Westfield dry goods merchant, who soon took the boy into his employ and was ever afterward his warm friend. For 20 years, Mr. Steiger continued in Mr. Gillette’s employ and during those years developed plans for his career.
It was not until 1891 that he felt his opportunity had come. It was his opinion that the departments stores of the smaller cities were not being efficiently managed and that they were not offering to the public the service which should be given. He opened a store at Port Chester, N.Y., which he conducted for a short time. He then established a store at Holyoke buying a location on High street, and there developed his ideas as to what a modern department store should be. His hopes for the Holyoke store were realized and he gave that city an establishment patterned after the most advanced ideas of storekeeping.
Started Here in 1900
The business was extended June 6, 1906, when Mr. Steiger added the Albert Steiger company of this city (Springfield). At the start of this new store there were 65 employees, some of whom are still with him, and by the time of the first anniversary the number had grown to 100. During this first year, he acquired the Taft block adjoining his original Main street property, carrying with it all rights to property running back to Barnes street. On June 10, 1908, the Springfield store space was increased 25,000 feet by a two-story addition on Hillman street, in the rear, which was opened for business March 23, 1909.
In September, 1918, Mr. Steiger opened a store on Main street, Hartford, Ct., and in 1920 erected a five story department store on the site. In October 1925, the Steiger store at Port Chester, N.Y., was sold to the Poole Dry Goods company. In August 1929, the Leavitt company bought the Poole stores in this city, Bridgeport, and Waterbury Ct., and at Port Chester.
The widely-known store of Charles Hall, Inc., in this city was bought by Mr. Steiger in January 1930 and a three story addition to the Steiger store was built to house the Hall business, known as the Hall galleries. This was opened in October of the same year. In August, 1921, Mr. Steiger sold his shares in one of the chain of stores in which he was interested, the Steiger-Dudgeon store of New Bedford, to his partner Charles H. Cox, and acquired Mr. Cox’s interests in the Steigher-Cox company of Fall River.
Married Westfield Girl
Today the corporation is comprised of three stores, the Albert Steiger company of this city, of which Albert Edward Steiger is general manager; Albert Steiger, Inc., of Hartford, and A. Steiger & Co., of Holyoke. The number of employees in these three stores is approximately 850. The present officers of the corporation are: Chairman of the Board, Albert Steiger; president, Ralph A. Steiger vice-president, P.C. Steiger; vice-president, John H. Ashley; treasurer, C. A. Steiger; assistant treasurer, R. F. Doane; assistant treasurer, N. B. Pike.
Mr. Steiger was married November 25, 1884, to Izetta Allen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Chauncy Allen of Westfield. The celebrated their golden wedding anniversary last year. The memory of Chauncy Allen is perpetuated by Mr. Steiger’s gift of Chauncy Allen park, newest of Westfield’s park areas, which was dedicated in 1932. This park is located in front of the new high school and Mr. Steiger bore most of the expense of developing it. Five sons of Mr. Steiger are today associated with him in the management of his enterprises.
Aside from the congratulations received from his employees, Mr. Steiger received a felicitations from many persons prominent in public and business life. Holyoke was represented among those by congratulations from May Henry J. Toepfert, the Chamber of Commerce and many others. There will be a family celebration of Mr. Steiger’s 75th birthday today when the five sons and their families will participate in a gathering at Mr. Steiger’s home at 26 Ridgewood Terrace.
From The Springfield Republican.