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 by 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.

11 thoughts on “The Carl Company

    1. 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. 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. 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. 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.

  2. My great great grandfather was Charles Wesley Carl. His wife most likely did eat there after the passing of my grandfather because she took over the day to day operations of the company until for health no longer permitted. Then the reigns were passed down to there only son Charles who for many years did a marvelous job keeping the business going strong. Alas, Chuck never married and shortly before his death shuttered the doors for good. His sister’s only daughter is my grandmother, who fondly recalls her memories from Carl’s to this day. Thank you for keeping history alive!

  3. I worked as assistant to the maintenance man in 1963. He was gruff and hilarious. I remember we did some roofing for the Carl home. I was a good job and I learned a lot.

  4. Does anyone remember my Grandmother, Doris Cimino? I think She was an elevator operator.
    I was curious if there were pictures of her?

    1. Yes I remember her…she was a very pleasant petite woman. I worked at Carl’s for 3 years in the 70s. I don’t have any pictures of Doris, but I remember chatting with her while she waited for shoppers to use the elevator. I worked directly across from the elevators at the kiosk called bargain square. One particular recipe we discussed was Doris’s white chocolate cake.

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