by Charles A. Monagan
Jul 27, 2011
10:08 AM
On Connecticut

There Once Was a Landmark Here


Driving along Church Street through New Haven the other day, my wife and I noticed that the construction of the new Gateway Community College appears to be going well. Like (getting older) folk are prone to do, we started reminiscing about the old Malley's that used to be on the spot for so many years.

For those of you who don't remember, Malley's department store—formally, The Edw. Malley Co.—was a New Haven institution. Opened in 1852 on Chapel Street across from the green by Edward Malley, the original shop soon prospered because of their unique pricing structure, which promised patrons that "All goods sold at one price." Malley's expanded, but a fire in 1882 wiped out the store. A second store, the one that really became a New Haven landmark with the state's first elevators and escalators, thrived for almost 80 years; it was demolished in 1962 for the final department store that was the cornerstone of the old Chapel Square Mall. The Malley family sold it in 1971 after business was bad, and it struggled for about a decade before closing its doors for good in 1982.

As usual, I was poking through our archives and discovered an interview in the September 1939 issue of Connecticut Circle (Connecticut Magazine's forerunner) with Walter E. Malley, son of the original founder who ran the business for decades. In the article, Malley muses about the company's history. One comment, in particular, sort of stuck out to me, when he was reflecting upon Malley's success.

"We have tried to build up a store having in mind first our patrons, without whom we could not live. Second, our employees or store members upon whose loyalty we have always depended. Third, upon our resources. These are the people from whom we buy and with whom we have always tried to deal fairly year after year. Fourth and lastly come our stockholders, for whom we might be able to make money if we had PROPERLY HANDLED THE FIRST THREE."

In this current "slow" (to be charitable) business climate where it seems as though corporations openly do everything they can to appease shareholders (layoffs, outsourcing, etc.) and seemingly ignore what might be best for customers, it's a novel sentiment that might need to be considered once again. I mean, a business that first cares about and appreciates its customers? That's just crazy enough to work again.

There Once Was a Landmark Here

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