TURN OF THE CENTURY 1900 (Retail): Schaeffler store was a small-town marvel

Hillsboro?s most famous business at the turn of the century?and perhaps the city?s entire history?was the Schaeffler Mercantile, founded by William F. Schaeffler in 1887 with $500 cash and two willing pairs of hands.

The Schaefflers began with a line of groceries and meats in a small wood-frame building on the east side of Main Street. Business was slow at first, on some days not exceeding five dollars.

In 1892, they purchased what was known as the Schultz building at their traditional Main and Grand location.

By 1903, they had outgrown that building, too, and so erected a new, spacious building that stands today as the home for Nancy?s Fashions, Tan-it-All and Dale?s Supermarket.

They had five departments in the store?groceries and meats, men?s furnishings, women?s clothing, shoes and dry goods (fabrics)?each headed by an overseer.

In 1902, just prior to the construction of the present building, C.L. Katz described the business this way:

?(Schaeffler) keeps an excellent assortment of groceries, tea, coffee, molasses, flour, spices, cigars, tobacco, and probably the choicest selections in dry goods, yard goods, drapery and ladies? garments.

?His wife has a millinery shop which, with its elegant furnishings, rates equally high with shops in the large cities. Mrs. Ida Schaeffler and Miss Rosalie Groat are classified among the best milliners in Marion County. Mr. Schaeffler, likewise, has a fine selection of boys? suits, umbrellas, porcelain wares and sewing machines….

?W.F. Schaeffler is highly esteemed in local business circles as a conservative manager and steward of his special gifts and good judgment. He is continuously cognizant of the progress of the town and never fails to respond to its welfare and concerns.?

Adapted from Hillsboro: City on the Prairie by Raymond F. Wiebe.

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