Keeping a retail business open for 150 years is no small feat. Through many transitions in Lawrence's downtown and some major shifts in the city's retail scene, Weaver's Department store has endured and still is going strong. This week, it is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the store founded in 1857 by Lathrop Bullene in the 700 block of Massachusetts.
The original store was destroyed by fire during Quantrill's Raid in 1863. The rebuilt Bullene store was bought by one of its competitors, A.D. Weaver, in 1886 and moved in 1929 to its current location at Ninth and Massachusetts where it continues to be an important retail anchor to Lawrence's downtown.
Weaver's has been a landmark ever since. For many years it completed all of its sales transactions by sending payments through a pneumatic tube system to a central cashier who recorded the sale and returned the change. The tube system isn't used as much now, but visitors still can see it operate if they pay cash in the men's department.
The pneumatic tube system is a bow to the past, but Weaver's has worked hard to keep up with a changing retail market. It would have been easy for the store to become a relic, but it instead has preserved old-fashioned service while pursuing updated business strategies.
Like any good retailer, Weavers is celebrating its sesquicentennial with a special sale, but the store has added a twist. Any shopper making a purchase in the store through Monday can ask Weavers to donate 10 percent of their purchase to one of three local social service agencies. They can even choose whether they'd like the gift to go to Meals on Wheels, Douglas County Child Development Association or Women's Transitional Care Services.
What a great way to celebrate. Such community spirit, along with a friendly staff, probably is a large part of what has helped Weaver's stay in business for 150 years.
Congratulations to Weaver's and its owners, managers and employees on the store's 150th anniversary and thanks for your continuing contributions to Lawrence and downtown.