Sioux Falls’ Empty Gordmans Building Used to be a LaBelle’s Catalog Showroom
We've been talking about the empty Gordmans building in Sioux Falls. The one across the parking lot from the Empire Mall.
We came up with some ideas for the future of the building. But, did you know that that location wasn't always a Gordmans store? It started its life as home to the Sioux Falls location of LaBelle’s catalog showrooms.
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I've only been in Sioux Falls since 2006, so this was news to me. I was tipped off to this fact by Results-Townsquare Media's Scott Smith when he shared this memory about the Gordmans building:
"My first REAL job (post paper route days) was working for the ORIGINAL store that building was intended for...LaBelle's Catalog Showroom. Do you remember that company? They also put out a KILLER catalog."
Yea, if you don't remember, LaBelle’s was a catalog showroom store.
In the olden days, you'd get the Sears, Mongromy-Ward, or the LaBelle’s catalog. The big, fat magazine that'd come in the mail. You could then order from the huge selection. I remember several Christmases in the '80s where the presents all came from one of those catalogs or another. Like an analog Amazon.
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In addition to the catalog, there were these big department-type stores where you could buy the stuff in person. But, you'd shop almost like an old west general store. A display model would be on the sales floor. You'd look at it, then 'order' it.
"They had SO MANY DEPARTMENTS...cameras, high-end audio/video equipment, jewelry. They had a HUGE warehouse on the south side of the showroom.," Smith recalls. "You would walk-in the front door, go to the Will Call Order Desk, order what you wanted, then some young dude in the warehouse would find it, put it on a conveyor belt and send it to the cash registers where you would pay."
"I worked in an area where we sold smaller items called Self Service. We sold Toys, Sporting Goods, and Health & Beauty Aids. GREAT first job! Wore a tie and dress clothes. Drove my mom's 1978 Ford Granada to work, listening to Billy Joel's "My Life" on AM radio. Fun memories."
LaBelle’s Catalog Showroom was headquartered in Minnetonka, Minnesota. In 1982 the company Best Products bought LaBelle’s parent company. At its height, Best had 180 stores in 23 states.
The rise of stores like Walmart and Target meant the end of the catalog showroom days. Best Products filed for bankruptcy in 1996, the following year their last store closed.
The LaBelle's Catalog Showroom in Sioux Falls opened in September of 1976.
Gordmans stores started as an Omaha, Nebraska-based company. Stage Stores bought the brand in 2017 when Gordmans first filed bankruptcy in 2017. The Sioux Falls Gordmans store closed in 2020. It had been in its location since the early 1990s.
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