The Carl Company

Carl Co. 1914.png

Well of course I couldn’t talk about Wallace’s without mentioning its across-the-street complement, The Carl Company. One of Schenectady’s home-grown department stores, it opened in 1906 and was owned by the Carl family until 1984. Defying the trend of amalgamations and consolidations, it managed to survive into the early ’90s with a number of suburban locations adding to its downtown flagship store, immediately adjacent to Proctor’s Theatre. When the company decided to close down, it was done with typical class and many of us were sad to see the last of the local department stores disappear.

This ad was from 1914, when Carl’s already had another location in Troy – people didn’t travel very far to do their shopping in those days. Carl’s was also one of the stores that had a stamp-collecting premium program, Gold Bond Stamps, which were given with every purchase. Every now and then my mother would pull out all the Gold Bond Stamps she had collected and we would paste them into the redemption books, which could then be turned in for discounts against purchases. This was what entertained kids when there were only three channels. I only wish there were a picture of the Uncle Sam hats they were giving away this August Saturday, and can’t help but wonder if their supplier had missed the Fourth of July rush.

Today, its space has been taken over the Proctor’s, which uses it for its iWerks theatre and coffee shop, the 8th Step performance space, and Underground at Proctor’s.

In some sense, the Carl Company is still doing good things for Schenectady – its Carlilian Foundation supports grants to promote child health and welfare in Schenectady County, and is a major supporter of the Central Park Rose Garden.

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    1. Post

      I believe so but will try to confirm. I know for certain that Wallace’s did, and most department stores did in those days. I feel like I remember one near the Smith Street entrance.

    2. Post

      In fact, yes, I just found a 1925 ad that mentions the cafeteria. I think it was still there when I was a kid in the ’60s.

    3. Molly

      Yes, definitely. Mrs. Carl used to have lunch there, every day I was told, after her husband died. I don’t know if this is accurate, but I have been to the restaurant on the top floor. And I worked at one of the branch stores putting myself through college. I loved that job!

  1. Ed Kenitz

    Carl’s definitely had a cafeteria at the back rt hand corner of the store on the 1st floor. I an can picture it in my mind as I worked there as a stock boy in summer of 53 @16 yrs old. … break.

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