Bradley's marking 160 years
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Bradley's Department Store owner Lois Stritt gets a hug from Gov. Scott Walker Oct. 23. Walker stopped by the Delavan store, which is celebrating its 160th anniversary.
DELAVAN -- Bradley’s Department Store is giving area residents 160 reasons to stop and visit.
The establishment has been a fixture in Delavan’s downtown, and it will share its history along with the community during activities starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27.
The company’s 160th anniversary party culminates a month-long celebration that has included specials and giveaways, and the anniversary event will include the release of 160 balloons and a giveaway of 160 hot dogs and 160 cupcakes.
Delavan Mayor Mel Nieuwenhuis will make a proclamation and presentation to honor the occasion for a company that native New Yorker William Bradley started in 1852 with his operation near what is now Tower Park. Twenty-two years later, he purchased a building at the store’s current location, 222 E. Walworth Ave.
The business changed owners several times, including his sons-in-law who took it over after William Bradley’s death, but the Bradley name and service have remained important parts of the city’s fabric ever since.
The Delavan-Delavan Lake Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the event, and executive director Jackie Busch said that Bradley’s represents what is great about small towns.
“Bradley’s may be the oldest department store in the country,” Busch said. “And when you consider the business is located in a small community, that’s phenomenal. It’s such a great thing to have a store like this in our downtown. They’ve always been family and locally run. And they’re unique in that the owner, Lois Stritt, also is one of the buyers and personally picks out a lot of their items.”
Stritt bought the store in 2009, and she has carried on a family atmosphere at Bradley’s, whose 10 employees have more than a combined 100 years of experience at the company.