The Dollar Limit
In 1915 Robert M. Beall, Sr., age 22, opened a dry goods store in Bradenton, FL on the banks of the Manatee River. At that time the pioneer town had a population of just over 3,000 people. Beall wanted to spend his entire investment of $2,500 on stock, so he over-turned wooden packing crates that his goods arrived in and used them for display tables! Nothing was priced over $1.00, so he named his store The Dollar Limit.
V (”Five”) Dollar Limit
With the inflation that followed World War I, prices increased and in 1918 he changed the name of the store to the V (Five) Dollar Limit. As his business grew he bought property and built a larger store a few blocks away on Manatee Avenue. During the Depression, he lost his store to the bank, but continued to operate it. In 1940 he was able to repurchase the company.
Beall’s Department Store
In 1940, Robert Beall’s son, E.R., joined the family business after graduating from the University of Florida. In 1946, after serving in the army, E.R. rejoined his father. That year they changed the name to Beall’s Department Store. Robert Beall ran the original downtown store until just a few months before his death, at age 86. The old store continued to operate until 1987 when it was torn down for new construction. The proceeds from the sale of the building were used to establish the R.M. Beall, Sr. Foundation which supports youth and education.
Bealls Department Store Expansion
It was E.R.’s vision that began the company’s expansion into the shopping centers that served the middle income retirees who were flocking to Florida. In 1956 the second store was opened in Bradenton and the third store followed in Venice, FL in 1961.
In 1970, E.R.'s son, Robert M. Beall, II (Bob) joined the business after completing his military duty and earning an MBA at New York University. The three generations were active in the company until Robert, Sr. died in 1979. In 1980, when Bob Beall assumed the presidency, the chain had grown to $38 million in annual sales.
Beall's & Burke's Outlet Stores
In 1987, Chairman E.R. Beall conceptualized the Beall's Outlet Chain of Stores in response to the growing number of outlet stores. In 1992 Beall's opened an Outlet store in Arizona, its first store beyond the state of Florida. Today the Outlet chain has grown to operate more than 260 Beall's Outlet stores in Florida, Georgia & Arizona and 200 stores as Burke's Outlets across the sunbelt.
Bealls is a privately held company, rich in tradition, owned by the founding family and its employees. Founded in 1915, Bealls Department Stores now operates 80 store locations in the state of Florida in addition to BeallsFlorida.com. Bealls Department Stores and BeallsFlorida.com are owned and operated by Beall's Department Stores, Inc and Beall's Westgate Corporation.
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