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WILLIAM H. FREAR’S BAZAAR
Excerpted from the book
Troy’s One Hundred Years 1789-1889
Published in 1891 by William H. Young, 7 and 9 First Street, Troy, NY
William H. Frear’s bazaar, long and widely known by visitation and advertisement as on the south side of Broadway, between Second and River streets, attracts to its extensive salesrooms daily a larger concourse of town and country customers than is elsewhere seen in the city. The vast stock of goods needed to supply their wants is partly visible in the fifty-four departments into which the great establishment is divided. The spacious storage rooms in the five-story building are temporary depositories for undisplayed goods. Imported and domestic fabrics, silks, velvets, laces, and ribbons, fans, gloves, handkerchiefs, and hosiery, cloaks, capes, and wraps, underclothing, corsets, collars, and cuffs, bijoutry, toilet articles, parasols, umbrellas, traveling bags, and trunks, house-furnishing goods, and a thousand and one other salable things draw throngs of eager buyers to the counters of this busy mart on Washington Square.
More than two hundred men and women give attention to the sale of goods on the first and second floors. As many as three hundred and seventy employes have been required at one time to dispatch the business of the popular bazaar. In 1890, the mail order department forwarded goods to forty states and territories, and held correspondence with customers having seven hundred and seventy-two different post-office addresses. In the advertising department are great folios in which are pasted every advertisement since 1865, which has been inserted in newspapers to give publicity to the display of new goods. The sales in the retail department have exceeded $1,200,000 in a year. A record of those of a day shows receipts aggregating more than $12,000. The current expenses of a single year have required an expenditure of $200,000. There is probably not a city in the world of the same population as that of Troy in which a retail dry goods house commands so large a trade as this notable emporium. The main salesroom in the first floor extends along Broadway one hundred feet, with a depth of one hundred and nineteen. The part extending to the entrances on Second Street has a width of about fifty feet and a depth of one hundred and thirty.
The brick building, originally four stories high, erected in 1835, by Le Grand Cannon, had been known since that year as Cannon Place. Lot 131, fifty by one hundred and thirty feet, was leased on March 10th, 1789, by Jacob D. Van der Heyden to Mathise Vandenburgh at a yearly ground rent of three pounds five shillings. Thence it successively passed to Elias Lee, Nathan Betts, Nathan and Stephen Warren, Eliakim Warren, and, on October 13th, 1831 to Le Grand Cannon. On May 4th, 1891, the property embracing the lots 130 and 131 and the buildings on them was sold to William H. Frear, who that day gave a check for $124,000 to George H. Cramer, agent of the heirs of Le Grand Cannon, in part payment for it.
The business career of William H. Frear in Troy began on March 1st, 1859, when he became a salesman in the dry goods store of John Flagg, at No. 12 Fulton Street, in the Boardman Building, on the north-east corner of River and Fulton streets. He and Sylvanus Haverly having, on February 11th, 1865, entered into partnership as Haverly & Frear, on March 9th, that year, engaged in the sale of dry goods at No. 322 River Street, between Fulton and Grand Division streets. On the admission of John Flagg as a partner on March 16th, 1868, the firm took the name of Flagg, Haverly, & Frear, and on April 9th following, occupied Nos. 3 and 4 Cannon Place, where Decker & Rice had previously a dry goods and millinery store. On the withdrawal of Sylvanus Haverly on January 2d, 1869, Flagg & Frear continued the business until the dissolution of the partnership on March 1st, 1874, from which time, William H. Frear has individually conducted it.