By Diana Rubio
In May 1943, The Utah Chronicle featured ads from Auerbach’s Department Store, a family-owned business that gained name recognition in the Western United States. (Auerbach, end page)
In 1864, Jewish brothers Frederick H. Auerbach and Samuel H. Auerbach gave rise to what would become a 113-year legacy of quality products and services. (Rudd, 234) Auerbach’s was initially named “The People’s Store: Auerbach & Brothers” and began welcoming customers in downtown Salt Lake City after the Auerbach brothers came to an agreement with former LDS leader Brigham Young. (Williams)
The difference in culture the Auerbach’s introduced to the business landscape in Utah connected non-Mormons and Mormons. When the store first opened on Main Street, the south end, where Auerbach’s was located, became a hub for non-Mormon shoppers, whereas the north end was known for catering to Mormon shoppers. (Stone, Introduction)
Auerbach’s began as a small shop, but as time progressed the business gained popularity due to its merchandise and customer service that touched its customers. (Auerbach, end page) These two characteristics were not only experienced in the store, but also promoted in advertisements. It is due to Auerbach’s advertising efforts and positioning that the family business distinguished itself from other retailers. (Auerbach’s, Folder 5, 7)
“You can count on the fingers of one hand the stores in Utah that have had a continuous life of eighty years,” said Herbert S. Auerbach, one of the successors of the company. (Auerbach, end page)
When the company observed its eightieth anniversary, the celebration was a testament to the company’s integrity, customers service, and its progress, despite the changes in the political atmosphere. (Auerbach, end page) Auerbach’s advertisements positioned the store as a retailer that carried high-quality goods and provided retail prices for consumers with various budgets. (Auerbach’s, Folder 5)
The first advertisement spanned two inches and appeared in the issues of the Daily Telegraph and described the merchandise as “Staple and fancy.” The advertisements promoted the following merchandise: dry goods, shoes, groceries, notions, clothing, and home accessories. An example of how merchandise was initially promoted advertised blankets imported from California as “the finest quality … offered at little over original cost.” (Auerbach’s, Folder 5)
In an ad published by Goodwin’s Weekly, the ad expressed that Auerbach’s had gained confidence and courage from experiencing success over the years. Such accomplishments had encouraged the company to import 100,000 handkerchiefs for the holidays that were packaged with care. In addition to providing details about “the world’s greatest production of handkerchiefs,” the ad was a cordial invitation for customers to experience these handkerchiefs for themselves. At the bottom, the ad read, “We invite you to make yourself at home among these new handkerchiefs of ours.” (Auerbach’s, Folder 7)
While Auerbach’s advertisements focused on the quality of products, other advertisements highlighted customer service, such as an ad that featured a sketch of the Auerbach store in Salt Lake City. The ad promised to deliver products within five days. If not, customers could return the items in store. Another ad with the sketch of a woman wearing a hat guaranteed a free purchase once customers had made fifty-seven purchases. Exceptions to this offer included: groceries, meats, phonographs, candy, and patterns. (Auerbach’s, Folder 5)
The Auerbach’s company recognized it had built a reputable name over the years and believed the store had become an inspiration to Utah history. (Auerbach’s, Folder 7) Although Auerbach’s reached its end in 1977, it was a Salt Lake City landmark for over 100 years. (Williams) The company’s focus on service and merchandise are marketing tactics still used today by marketers who position companies to increase revenue and eventually build strong brands.
Diana Rubio is a senior at the University of Utah. She is majoring in communication with a focus in strategic communication.
Auerbach, Herbert S. Auerbach Co.: 80 years of service, 1864-1944. Salt Lake City, UT, 1944.
Advertisement, Auerbach’s Man’s Shop Advertisement, The Utah Chronicle, May 20, 1943, 6.
Rudd, Hynda. “Auerbach’s: One of the West’s Oldest Department Stores.” Western States Jewish History 11, no.3: 234-38.
Stone, Eileen Hallet. Auerbach’s: The Store that Performed What It Promises. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2018.
Various advertisements, Herbert S. Auerbach papers, Box 10, Folder 5, Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Various Advertisements, Herbert S. Auerbach papers, Box 16, Folder 7, Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Williams, Carter. “Auerbach’s to ZCMI: 4 historic Utah businesses that no longer exist,” ksl.com, November 16, 2017,