1881 : J. L. Hudson’s Haberdashery Opens in Detroit, Will Evolve Into Hudson’s Department Store

April 2, 2023 all-day

The forerunner of Hudson’s, which would become a storied Detroit retailer, opened April 2, 1881.

J. L. Hudson’s haberdashery was at the old Detroit Opera House. It opened as a department store a decade later at Gratiot and Farmer, an eight-story building that was, at the time, the second-tallest building in Detroit.

The store would grow to 25 stories on Woodward, 12,000 employees and 100,000 shoppers a day and become an important symbol of Christmas in Detroit. Shoppers could buy anything from books to clothing to pianos.

Hudson’s annual sales at the downtown store peaked at $156 million in 1953.

The store closed in 1983, and the building was imploded in 1998 before a crowd of approximately 50,000.

For the full article, see Zlati Meyer, “This week in Michigan history: Hudson’s haberdashery opens in Detroit”, Detroit Free Press, March 30, 2014.

For another, see Dan Austin, “134 years ago, Hudson’s opened in Detroit”, Detroit Free Press, April 2, 2015.

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