Donaldson’s Department Store, located at 6th & Nicollet, pulled out all the stops to celebrate their 50th anniversary in 1931. While the timing was unfortunate from a marketer’s perspective — the nation had entered the Great Depression and most families were watching their pennies carefully — the store made the best out of the opportunity. Their extended celebration kicked off in August 1931, when Minneapolis Mayor William A. Anderson turned on the first “jeweled,” or colored, moving exterior lights, on a building west of Chicago. An additional seven spotlights lit up the skies, while a Northwest Airways plane flew overhead. A series of special events continued the celebration for months, including the first — and last — “Golden Jubilee Donaldson’s Day” in November. Donaldson’s survived the depression and remained a familiar part of the local department store landscape until being purchased by Chicago-based Carson Pirie Scott in 1987.
Photograph from Hennepin History Museum’s collection. Learn more about the museum and its offerings at hennepinhistory.org or 870-1329.