Iowa City’s ‘Look For The Label’ Department Store.

(P-0039) (P-0191) At the turn-of-the-century, retailing across America was changing drastically. Typically, throughout the 19th century, people living in a smaller Midwestern community such as Iowa City, had only a handful of local merchants from which to buy their basic needs. But now, with the advent of easier and faster transportation, large regional retailers like Montgomery Ward and Sears & Roebuck were taking over the market – pushing local mom-and-pop stores to the limit. But, as it always is in business, when markets change, those who can readily adapt and still give the consumer what they want, will generally succeed. So it was with Frank R. Hatch of Iowa City.

For Frank Hatch, a small local retailer in Iowa City, it was absolutely impossible to stock the great variety of products people found in the Ward’s or Sear’s catalogs. So, rather than offering big quantities of retail products to his Iowa City market, Hatch went all out with the important issue of quality – thus his tagline for his department store – Look For The Label.

Realizing there was no way to keep up with Quantity of products offered by the big boys of retailing, Hatch emphasized the other important issue on the minds of consumers – Quality. So his ‘Look For The Label’ theme was his way of reassuring his customers that anything you buy from Hatch’s Department Store will be top-notch, guaranteed to be the best product money can buy.

Here’s the illustration of Frank R. Hatch appearing in the 1906 Iowa City business directory – Our Live Ones – Iowa City.

Apparently, Hatch’s marketing strategy worked, as he was listed in the 1906 business directory entitled Our Live Ones – Iowa City – a little illustrated booklet that highlighted the top 40 business people of Iowa City. Read more here.

Frank R. Hatch was born to John Jasiah and Sarah Elizabeth (Payne) Hatch on April 22, 1874 in Solon, Iowa. His wife, Edna M. Hufman, born in 1871, was from Clinton. The 1908 Iowa City Directory listed their home address as 115 ½ South Clinton Street – the upper floor of a retail building located where Old Capitol Mall stands today.

Hatch’s Department Store opened around 1900 – first located in the Coldren Opera House on the southeast corner of College and Clinton Streets (see above). In 1903, Hatch moved his store a half-block further north to 124 Clinton Street – see article above from May 15, 1903 issue of The Iowa Citizen.

Frank Hatch started out – in 1900 – with his shop in the Coldren Opera House (#1). Three years later (1903), he moved a bit further north on Clinton Street to a larger location (#2). Click here to read more about Clinton Street in Iowa City.

Here’s one of those quality Look For The Label products from Hatch’s…

(L-0092) This porcelain china souvenir cup features Old Capitol and was made for Hatch’s by Burley & Tyrrell – a highly-respected retailer of fine china – from State Street in Chicago.

Only the best at Hatch’s. Chicago-based Burley & Tyrrell was known as the supplier of fine china to the White House.

Sometime around 1920, Frank and Edna Hatch left Iowa City, moving to Dresbach, Minnesota – on the Mississippi River, between Winona, MN and LaCrosse, WI. There Edna died in 1959 at age 87, and Frank passed in 1960 at age 86. Both are buried in Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City.

Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.

Burley & Tyrrell, Chicago’s Forgotten Retailer, William Tyre, Glessner House, January 18, 2022

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