GOLDMANNS

 

No trip to Retro-Milwaukee would be complete without a visit to Goldmann's. Located on Milwaukee's Mitchell Street ( where the street car bends the corner around ). Brace yourself, as you enter the store, you are literally swept back in time to another era. Friendly, knowledgeable clerks are plentiful, a real contrast to today's mass market, self serve 'me too' department stores. The store has changed little in 50 or more years, as can be confirmed by a visit to the recently added mezzanine museum. The museum, has a wonderful collection of photographs, newspaper ad's and store memorabilia on display for public viewing. The lunch counter is a great place to relax and soak in the Retro atmosphere, the store still has a candy counter with seasonal and regional favorites on display (like candy raisins). The selection in the store is unusual, a feature that keeps folks coming back. From lampshades, yard goods to Muk Luks, it's all there and your purchase is rung up on a good old fashioned cash register, not a computer in sight ! The unique features of the store have not gone unnoticed by filmmakers either, the crew filming the movie Milwaukee, Minnesota, in town recently, was so captivated by Milwaukee that extra scenes were written into the film. Goldmann's Department Store is one of the venues. ...

Goldmann's Department Store
930 W Mitchell
(414) 645-9100

After 111 years in business Goldmann's will be closing it's doors in October 2007.
Send us your favorite Goldmann's memory to be posted on this page.

Send Us Your Goldmann's Memories

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I worked At Goldmanís, in the shoe repair department for Jerry Phering in 1973/74 while I was in high school.  I was able to buy the things I needed because of it.  Every time I go back to Milwaukee I stop and buy suits from Goldmanís.  I really hate to hear that the store is closing.

Clint Newsom Jr

 
 
I remember when the St. Patrick's Day Parade went past Goldmann's on Mitchell Street.  My Mother who was of German descent, but married to an Irishman always had to celebrate and go to "The Parade".  Of course we always stood near the Goldmann's Mitchell Street entrance.  Then when the parade was over  or if we got too cold (it's cold in Milwaukee on March 17) we could always drop into the store for a few items.
 
Of course we always stopped at the candy counter - we always had to get some candy raisins (the brown chewy kind).  That was probably the high-light of the day.
 
Now that Goldmann's is going to close it's doors in October, 2007 my brother and sister-in-law were going down by Goldmann's and I had to have them pick up some candy raisins for me and a bag to send to my sister in South Carolina.  Mine are all gone - I guess we need another trip before the final days of a Milwaukee legend ........
 
Mary Leonard
 
The Mezzanine at Goldmann's is a King Tut's Tomb of electrical components and supplies.  Edison must have left that stuff to Goldmann in his will.  When it closes this fall, the lights in Milwaukee should be dimmed in respect.  And if they don't go bright again, maybe Goldmann's will let us in one last time for a ballast resistor.

Paul Troglia


 I'm 57 years old and remember when I was a kid sooo looking forward to my mom taking us kids shopping on Mitchell Street.  Of course, it would be complete without going to Goldmans.  My mom bought all her material there.  Our clothes were made that material. And I also knew I would walk out of that store with the freshest raisin candies.
The last time I was there, was 6 months ago.  My husband has been buying his clothes there for the past 30 years.  When we go there for my husband I know we will walk out of there with the freshest raisin candy.
THANK YOU GOLDMAN'S  for the wonderful years!

My mother buying materiel from Goldman's basement to make curtains. She use to call it the bargain basement store. This was back in the late 40's.


Goldmannís was the only place to find that fabric, flour sack towels or harp to fit the new lampshade!  Iím glad I recently had a last Goldmannís lunch date there with Sue D and Mary C!!

Sandy Bednarek

This is my second contribution to the RETRO MILWAUKEE site, which I find
totally wonderful!!  My favorite GOLDMANN'S memory harks back to the mid
to late 1950's.  My grandmother, Martha Miller, lived on South 16th
Street between Mitchell Street and Forest Home Ave.  She and I had a
very special relationship, and I spent a lot of time with her.  We would
walk to the stores on Mitchell Street on a regular basis.  She was a
heavy woman in those days, but would put on a dress from THE GRAND, a
large ostentatious hat, white gloves, an over sized handbag, and a fox
stole (see photo below). We would walk (more like parade) to GOLDMANN'S  for lunch.  I always felt that my grandmother Martha was the "queen of Mitchell
Street".  I'd give most anything for just one more of those visits as
that wide eyed kid holding the gloved hand of QUEEN MARTHA looking
forward to sitting on a stool at a curved lunch counter eating a greasy
hamburger!!

Thom Butenhoff
Oil City, Louisiana


 Grandma Martha with my grandfather and my sister Diane.  Her outfit was typical of what
 she would wear on our trips to Mitchell Street and Goldmann's.

Hi, I worked part time for George Marshall in the electrical dept. (up the stairs on the balcony) in the early 50's while I was a M.S.O.E student. Fixed a lot of radios and built a lot of custom lamps using old vases, etc. that customers brought in for George to help.  Nice guy and his wife ran the new lamp dept. around the corner. Enjoyed the lunch counter almost everyday. Went back 40 years later and George was still there and spotted me coming up the steps and greeted me, "Hello Jerry".  What a memory ! 
Jerry Hall,  Milwaukee

 
I remember shopping at Goldmann's for snuggies with my grandma and mom.  I hated those snuggies because they itched all over.  For you young folks snuggies were a type of long legged underwear that were made of a combination of wool and cotton and they were a light pink color.
K.Leonard  Eau Claire Wisconsin

 
I shopped at Goldmanns when we lived on the corner of 17th & Mitchell St.,
above the Knotty Pine Hall (Ted's Sports Bar).
 
Our son was well dressed with all the clothes I bought for him
at Goldmanns. I paid no more then 10-cents (or less) for each article
of clothing..............and they were guaranteed.
 
I had a blast shopping at Goldmanns!!
 
Joe & Janann  

 

My late husband Butch introduced me to Goldmannís. He also showed our girls the inís and outís of shopping at Goldmannís. His Dad and Mom owned a tavern on 7th Street and everyone that came into Sasseís shopped at Goldmannís.

 My favorite stop was at the diner counter. The meals were just great. I especially like the friendly women that waited on us. They all were sweet. The Cheeseburger was terrific.

 Butch really liked the menís department and thought that it was the best buy in town.

 Now my youngest daughter says we have to take her boyfriend to the store before it closes.

 Thanks for some wonderful memories.

 Mary Ellen Sasse
 
I have fond memories of Goldmann's in the 1960's when I was a kid, my mom would take me there every Christmas to pick out a housecoat with two deep pockets for my Grandma's Christmas present. Every Year for Grandma's birthday we would get her the handkerchiefs, Doilies and dresser scarves for her gift. She could never get enough of those things. Dad like to shop there for steel toe boots for work. Mom liked the Olde Fashion candy, swedish fish, candy raisins and cinnamon bears. Grandpa liked the leather coin pouch that you had a hard time finding anywhere else. I liked the variety of board games and toys that you didn't see anywhere else. Goldmann's had something for everyone. It will also have a memory in my brain and a place in my heart.
Suzy
When I was a little girl about 7 years old, my Mom worked
at Goldmann's.  I was a huge fan of that store.  It was such a cool place to be when you are a little kid.
My Mom was the tailor for the men's dept. and I was known by Milt and Jerry for years.  I have lots of nice memories of Goldmann's and I will be sad to see it go.  I do hope they will have a book made about the store, the whole history etc... that would be super.
I will for sure go and see the guys before the store closes, for I have a son now and I can show him where his Grandma used to work.
 
All my best,
Adine. (Addy)

As a child growing up on S. 15th Place & Rogers during the 60's and 70's, my mother took us or sent us to Goldmann's with fair frequency.  However, my most memorable shopping experience there was only 6 years ago.  I came in from Oconomowoc and with a sister from Indiana, we took our mother shopping for a dress there.  The staff was so incredible and service so personalized that we may as well have been shopping on N.Y.'s 5th Avenue.  Everyone greeted us or directed us to where we needed to go.  My mother, in her late 70's, was noted by the elevator man as not being able to negotiate the stairs so he called us over to take the elevator up to the notions dept.  Not only was he accommodating and polite, but also quite entertaining, making the ride fun as well.  I'm very sorry I can't recall his name.  He then instructed us to have the clerk ring for him when we were ready to come back down.  The clerk, however, was on top of things as well and offered to ring for him before we could even ask.  We were all so impressed we couldn't help but speak of the wonderful service as we exited.  When we got home we shared with other family members what a pleasant shopping experience the staff had created for us.  Since I'm no longer close to the neighborhood I have not re-visited the store since then and it saddens me to know Goldmann's is closing their doors.  I recently found out my mother and a lady friend went to visit the diner to sit at the counter for one last time.  I too am hoping to get back for a last visit with a brother on Friday, Sept 28th before they close Oct. 1st.  If for nothing else, just to walk the store one last time recalling childhood memories.  Thank you Goldmann's for making your customers feel so special and creating those great memories!!!

 

Sincerely, Renee Semon

Up until recently, when Goldmann's stopped replenishing their stock, it
was the only place to get the thicker, quality flour sacks my Mom uses
in crafts.  That in itself is not much- except my Mom lives in Texas-
and I regularly shipped 40-50 of those flour sacks!  I also got my white
and black wing tip shoes there for band gigs- Goldmann's was one of a
kind!!

Dave Meyer

 

It's so nice to read about all of these wonderful memories. It's almost like being there, and having people tell me their stories.
I didn't move to Milwaukee until I was 16, but I ended up living in the Mitchell Street neighborhood. I went to South Division High School, and whenever I didn't care for what we were supposed to have for lunch, I'd take a walk down to Goldmanns. I spent quite a few of my lunch breaks at their diner. I used to really love their chili back then.
Over the years, I still liked to stop in, if not for anything else, just to be able to step back in time and enjoy some of their chili, a delicious BLT sandwich, or some coffee and a pastry.
I'd also found numerous things over the years that you couldn't find anywhere else. That phrase was sure true!
Just after they announced that the store was going to be closing, I was lucky enough to have been hired as one of their Sales Associates. I only got to work there for about four months, but it ended up being one of the nicest places I ever worked at. All of the management and staff were really wonderful, and some of the sweetest people you'd ever want to meet.
While I was there, I learned how to work in eight different departments (on nine different kinds of cash registers). My favorite was working in the Candy Shoppe, and during my last month there, it's pretty much where I got to stay. I was amazed at how popular the candy raisins were. People were coming in from different parts of the country to buy some as a final souvenir, and some people would buy a whole case. We were even getting mail orders for some of our candies. Many of the customers had some type of Goldmanns memory to share, and it was always a pleasure to listen.
I got to wait on, and talk to a lot of people, and one thing is for sure... the business might be gone now, but there are always going to be a lot of good memories that stemmed from Goldmanns!
I really miss everyone from there... there were so many friendly people, both co-workers and customers alike, and to anyone who remembers me (I had a long pony tail), I sending a big hug your way!

Sharon Frost, from Milwaukee, WI

 

I was first introduced to Goldman's as a teenager in the early 1960's when I'd tag along on weekly Friday night shopping trips with best friend's family . First stop was always for burgers, fries and malts at the lunch counter. Then my friend and I , both avid sewers, would part company with her parents and siblings and move on to the fabric department. As a budding creative, how I loved the wide selection of fabrics . Plus the fact there so many sales tables were loaded with fabric priced well under a dollar a yard offered incredible deals given my meager babysitting budget. Spending hours spend at the pattern counter, turning the pages of the big bulky McCall's and Simplicity pattern books was how I kept abreast of fashion. Asking questions of the always knowledgeable sales women was how I honed my sewing skills. Goldman's as a spring board for independence. It was the first store, I'd shopped 'on my own' ( Ok my friends parents were near by but still....). We used it as our home base as we'd cross the street to Woolworth's to check out the white lipstick and black Maybelline eyeliner pencils so necessary to create a look worthy of the Carnaby Street 'birds' we knew the Beatles ( be still our hearts) were so fond of. I still have some pictures we'd pose for in 4-for-a-quarter photo booth where we'd always stop after swinging by their basement pet shop for fun. But it was always back to Goldman's just before 9 pm to join up with my friend's family and take the bus home. But the biggest thrill was sitting on the bus on my way home, holding my Goldman's bag containing a pattern for a 'mod' dress plus the perfect fabric I'd chosen to make it up in. Being from a big family with a small budget, my wardrobe consisted primarily of my sister's hand-me-downs, odds and ends from the Goodwill store and the one lone new school outfit I got each year, So I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Goldmans for a fabric department that not only fed my creative juices but also helped me to fashionable keep up with my peers - which is no small concern for a teen-age girl as you know. I am sorry that this bit of Milwaukee is gone, Especially since later as an adult I counted on their balcony lighting department to bring back to life all the marvelous lamps and chandeliers I'd find at flea markets all over the country. No matter what, I could always count on the them to find me just the right bulb or shade ( especially silks) no matter it's size or style thanks to a vast inventory that went back decades. And it was always affordable. I also regret the closing because of the store's support and contribution to to the rich heritage of the city's working class. Whether it was the friendly and polite banter of the counter girls or the sales people who reached out to help some of the less fortunate customers shopping there as an impressionable young girl, I learned an awful lot about kindness and respect.....

Well I am 77 now, and remember my mother always bought her Belle Schmeer
nylons at the hosiery counter at Goldmans. Next door was Hills, and that
is where I got my first perm with a machine that attached clips to
curlers, I thought I might get electrocuted. I loved Mitchell Street, in
fact my tiny engagement ring came from Goldman's Jewelry Store up the
street and I worked at Schuster's. They gave me an aptitude test and put
me in bedding. I didn't know a thing about thread count but, I did
learn.
Carol Struck Krebs Olson, Madison WI


My memories go back to my grandma Miller. She had a certain type of slip she liked. When I told her I tried but could not find that slip anywhere and a clerk at one of the stores said they don't make them any more. Grandma said go to Goldmanns, they will have it. I did, and sure enough they had it. From that time on Goldmanns was my store.
Pat

My dad would always take us to Goldman's and my sister worked at the lunch counter, and married the guy in the shoe department.  My fun memories are picking out candy and seconds in the hosiery department.  My last trip with my dad, he could hardly stand but he wanted the candy and he wanted to do it himself.  And his description of the stairway is the "POLISH ELEVATOR", yes sir , I am of Polish decent and walking was good for you. My girlfriend and I went there every year around Christmas time and stopped at the lunch counter for a burger and fry.
Arlene Sager
Greendale

In 1949 I helped build my future bride Dolores', and my "starter home." I bought all of the electrical wiring and equipment from the well stocked Goldmann's and the head of that department who was a kind and always helpful manager named George. Many, many years later and after I had three children that were in or out of high school, George was still working at Goldmann's. On one of my later visits and close to supper time I stopped at Goldmann's looking for a part for an antique lamp I was restoring. Because "old George" was busy with another customer I asked two other young clerks if they could help me. They said I had better wait for George. I asked them, "Exactly how long has George been here?" Both clerks smiled and said I should ask him because everyone did and he liked to tell them. So when George was available I went to him and told him my need for my antique lamp and he said, "Follow me." As we walked to a wall of drawers I asked, "George, how long have you been here?" Not blinking an eye or skipping a beat, George looked at his wrist watch and replied, "Since 3:30." The two young clerks were collapsing on the floor with laughter, and I knew that they had set me up and that George had been giving the same answer to many, many of us old timers that had grown up over the past years patronizing this one of a kind department store. It was a great moment and I have never forgotten it. And George never told his age!

Jerry Zimmerman, West Allis.
 PS! After 60 years I STILL live in that starter home I built in 1949 and is all wired from Goldmann's!


 In 1954, my family of 7 moved from my Busia and Dziadzia's lower flat on S17th Street near Grant to our big new house on South Layton Boulevard (where I still live) and then I was born and we were a family of 8.
 Going to Mitchell Street was always an experience. I remember especially going to Goldmann's. My mother would spend hours in the fabric department. Pulling out bolts and bolts of fabric, making decisions and sometimes not ever leaving with anything. I remember one time she tripped on the stairs from the second floor and fell and hurt her hand badly--I remember the fall vividly because her long pearl necklace broke and all the pearls spilled all over the floor. I remember when the fashion icon Nancy Regan came to Milwaukee with her husband president, Regan and a radio dj jokingly referenced the babushka she was wearing (this was many years after babushka's were common place on the Southside...)---they wondered how much a good babushka's was going for and so jokingly called Goldman's and asked the operator for the babushka department who responded, without a flinch, "that line is busy, would you like to hold...".... We bought our daughter's first communion dress there and she picked out some fishnet lace gloves there. Also I remember buying some humongous bras for halloween costumes--something like 48K and 52J and they were about $5. What couldn't you find in the electric department? Candies by the 1/4 and 1/2 pound were always fun to buy. And where else could you get poly pull on pants... As if you needed them???? What a sad thing.
Gosh I wish someone else would get in the space.....