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Anyone Remember Gilchrist's Department Store?

The former Filene's and Jordan Marsh department stores were retail landmarks at Downtown Crossing in Boston, Mass., but does anyone remember Gilchrist's? This Boston department store wasn't as high end as Filene's or Jordan Marsh, but it wasn't Woolworth's either.

Gilchrist's did become sort of a household name in the Boston area, probably finishing in third place behind Filene's and Jordan Marsh. I remember this big department store being of a very solid nature -- a place where you wouldn't leave disappointed. They sold clothing, furniture, jewelry, shoes, housewares and, I think, some electronics.  Gilchrist's success was so good that they eventually branched out into Massachusetts towns and cities like Brockton, Cambridge, Framingham, Medford, Quincy, Waltham, Stoneham, Cambridge, and Dorchester (actually part of Boston).  I surmise that all those shopping malls built in the 1970s must have played a factor in Gilchrist's eventual demise. Or perhaps it was too much retail expansion into the suburbs? Whatever the case, Gilchrist's suffered and went bankrupt in the late 1970s.

It's funny how time makes something become more popular or just become forgotten. Sadly, Gilchrist's, for me, anyway, falls into that second category.


  1. Sadly, I wish you were right about the shopping malls causing Gilchrist's demise. The real problem was mismanagement and a series of what some might call "unusual" actions by the new owners who took over the family owned business.
    Gilchrist's was a wonderful place to work, and in its prime had stores in malls all around Boston. There was a true sense of family abut the company right up until the new "owners took over."
    There are three things I will always remember about Gilchrist. The foremost memory I have is meeting my future wife there. The second is the smell of their famous macaroons. Finally, the third, is the house dress department. Long after other stores had seen the demise of the house-dress sales, Gilchirst held on. Indeed it was the last of the large stores to give into the pantsuit, and right up until the end, customers still made the trip into the city to purchase this icon of the past.
    Like the housewife, Gilchirst's days were numbered, but, in my opinion, not for the same reasons.

  2. I am very much interested in locating information on Gilchrists because I am writing a mystery story set in 1930's Boston and would love to get photos/info on this.

  3. I have limited memory of Gilchrist's. My mother worked in the "accounting" area of Gilchrist's in the late '40s and early '50s. She was a Comptometer Operator. When I was 4 or 5 (1956-1957), my mother, my sister, and I took the train from Whitman to Boston and visited the Gilchrist office. I remember they had an elevator operator.

  4. Having grown up in the Wollaston part of Quincy in the 1960s and '70s, I also have but a vague recollection of Gilchrist's. However, I do recall shopping at the location behind and around the corner from Sears and Roebuck in Quincy Center. In fact, I believe there was also a W.T. Grant within sight of the Gilchrist's. Remember the Dingo boors craze of the early 70s? If memory serves, I bought a pair of these boots from Gilchrist's. They weren't cheap, but they were fashionable (Didn't Broadway Joe Namath promote Dingo boots?)

  5. I worked n Gilchrists in the Marble Spa in 1964many friends I met there including my husband. We had lots of fun there and worked hard for very little money/hour. We knew our customers as many were frequent flyers. A coke, coffee or tea with 2 Macaroons was 25 cents!!

  6. I worked in the Marble Spa for a short time in 1972. It was really a fun place to work. Many of the waitresses had worked there since before the war (WWII, that is), and they were all so very nice to me. I remember that we had to pay for any food from the menu (at a discount), but we could have all the macaroons we could eat. I used to love macaroons, but I haven't had one since my second week at the Marble Spa.

  7. I remember Gilchrist's very well. I immigrated 1960 from Germany (legal) and worked in Allston. Went to Boston Wednesday night and on weekends, visiting Jordan Marsh, Filenes, and Gilchrist's. All 3 were nice stores and I miss them a lot! My mother came to visit me one year and bought me a sewing machine at Gilchrist's, so I could make my own clothes. Guess what........ I still have the sewing machine, and I still use it, but not as much anymore as back in the day......


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