Filene's was a Boston-based chain of department stores owned by Federated Department Stores (1929-1988; 2005-2006), and May Department Stores (1988-2005). It operated throughout New England and in New York.
Filene's was founded in Boston in 1881 as William Filene's Sons Co. Under the direction of company president Edward Filene
, it opened its famous "Automatic Bargain Basement" in 1909, which became a heavily visited tourist attraction. The concept of the bargain basement was not new (Marshall Field's
opened the first in 1879), but Filene's basement was well lit and ostentatiously decorated. The basement had its own staff which bought surplus, factory clearances, overstock, or closeout merchandise - Filene boasted that he had once sold more than 7,000 pairs of woolen underwear in two July days. Goods were marked down according to an automatic schedule; an item that had been on sale for 12 days was marked down by 25 percent, after 18 days by 50 percent, after 24 days by 75 percent, and after 30 days it was given away. Ninety percent of goods sold in the basement were purchased within the first 12 days of sale.
Filene's was one of the founding members of the Federated Department Stores, Inc. organization in 1929. It historically catered to the "carriage trade." In 1988, after the leveraged buy-out of Federated by Campeau Corp. of Toronto, Canada, the division was sold to May Department Stores Co. along with Foley's of Houston. It was at this time that Filene's and the equally famous Filene's Basement were disassociated. To this day, Filene's Basement is separately owned and operated by Retail Ventures, Inc.
In 1992 Filene's absorbed G. Fox & Co. of Hartford, Connecticut, another division of May Company. The 1990s saw a doubling of the Filene's organization as May invested in new stores and broadened Filene's price and product assortments. In 2002 it assumed operational control of the Kaufmann's stores in western New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.
Effective August 30, 2005, Federated Department Stores completed its previously announced acquisition of May Department Stores, thus reuniting Federated and Filene's. On that day the Filene's/Kaufmann's organization was dissolved and the management of its stores was assumed by Macy's East and the new Macy's Midwest. The store's website was largely consolidated into macys.com during the spring of 2006. On September 9, 2006, the Filene's name and brand was completely phased out as Federated converted Filene's to the Macy's masthead. The landmark flagship Filene's department store at Downtown Crossing closed. Federated did not convert this store to a Macy's, as there was already a Macy's store across the street. (Until 1996, the Macy's location had been the flagship store of Filene's rival, Jordan Marsh.)
The former Filene's flagship location was sold to Vornado Realty Trust, and restored and redeveloped as office and retail space.
The Filene's Basement stores were not effected by the Filene's-Macy's merger, since the "Basement" had long been under totally separate ownership from Filene's. However, in 2007, the flagship Filene's Basement location was closed while the old Filene's building was rebuilt. The store is expected to move back into its legendary basement space in 2009.
The store's Downtown Crossing location was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.
Former Filene's Locations
- Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk MSA/Danbury - Danbury Fair Mall (opened 1986 as G. Fox, became Filene's 1993, closed 2005)
- Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk MSA/Trumbull - Westfield Trumbull (formerly Trumbull Shopping Center) (opened 1978 as G. Fox, became Filene's 1993, Macy's 2005)
- Hartford MSA/Enfield - Enfield Square (2 locations) (opened 1971 as G. Fox, became Filene's 1993, home store opened 2000, converted to Macy's 2005)
- Hartford MSA/Farmington - Westfarms Mall (2 locations) (opened 1974 as G. Fox, became Filene's 1993, home store opened 1995, converted to Macy's 2005) combined stores
- Hartford MSA/Manchester - The Shoppes at Buckland Hills (2 locations) (opened 1986 as G. Fox, became Filene's 1993, home store opened 2004, converted to Macy's 2005) home store, main store
- New Haven-Waterbury MSA/Meriden - Westfield Meriden (formerly Meriden Square) (opened 1971 as G. Fox, became Filene's 1993, converted to Macy's 2005)
- New Haven-Waterbury MSA/Milford - Westfield Connecticut Post (formerly Connecticut Post Mall) (opened 1991 as G. Fox, became Filene's 1993, expanded 2005, converted to Macy's same year)
- New Haven-Waterbury MSA/Waterbury - Brass Mill Center (opened 1997, converted to Macy's 2005)
- New London MSA/Waterford - Crystal Mall (opened 1984, closed 2005)
- Stamford - Stamford Town Center-Opened 1982 as JCPenny, Converted to Filene's 1995, closed/demolished for mall expansion 2005.
- Auburn - Auburn Mall (2 locations) (opened 1997, both locations converted to Macy's 2005) one ., home store .
- Belmont - Belmont Center (freestanding) (expanded 1978, converted to Macy's 2005)
- Boston - Downtown Crossing (flagship) (opened 1890, closed 2005 in favor of adjoining Macy's store)
- Braintree - South Shore Plaza(opened 1961, converted to Macy's 2005)
- Brockton - Westgate Mall (opened 2003, converted to Macy's 2005)
- Burlington - Burlington Mall (opened 1968, closed 2005, location redeveloped for Nordstrom in 2008)
- Cambridge - CambridgeSide Galleria (2 locations) (opened 1990, converted to Macy's 2005) .
- Dartmouth - Dartmouth Mall (opened 2004, converted to Macy's 2005)
- Hanover - Hanover Mall (opened 1972, converted to Macy's 2005) from to
- Holyoke - Holyoke Mall at Ingleside (opened 1982 as G. Fox, became Filene's 1993, replaced 1995, converted to Macy's 2005) .
- Hyannis - Cape Cod Mall (opened 1970, Macy's 2005)
- Hyannis - Capetown Plaza Home Store (opened 1999, closed 2005)
- Kingston - Independence Mall (opened 1989, converted to Macy's 2005)
- Lanesborough - Berkshire Mall (opened 1994 in former Steiger's location, converted to Macy's 2005)
- Leominster - The Mall at Whitney Field (formerly Searstown Mall) (opened 2002, converted to Macy's 2005) .
- Marlborough - Solomon Pond Mall (opened 1996, converted to Macy's 2005)
- Natick - Natick Mall (opened 1965, converted to Macy's 2005) new one
- Newton - The Mall at Chestnut Hill (opened 1974, closed 2005, reopened as Bloomingdale's 11/2006)
- North Attleborough - Emerald Square (2 locations) (opened 1989, home store opened 2005, both locations converted to Macy's 9/2006) main store ., home store .
- Peabody - Northshore Mall (opened 1959, replaced 1993, became Macy's 2005) new one
- Saugus - Square One Mall (opened 1994, converted to Macy's 9/2006) .
- Taunton - Silver City Galleria (opened 1992, converted to Macy's 9/9/2006) .
- Springfield - Eastfield Mall (opened 1994 in former Steiger's location, converted to Macy's 9/2006) .
- Wellesley, Massachusetts - (freestanding location) (closed 1992) , smallest one ever in the chain
- Winchester, Massachusetts Closed 1968
- Worcester - Worcester Center Galleria ''(opened in 1929, closed 1993)
- Albany-Schenectady MSA/Albany - Crossgates Mall (opened 1985(for a time, was supposed to become G. Fox), replaced 1994 with newer store, became Macy's 5/2006) current one
- Albany-Schenectady MSA/Rotterdam - Rotterdam Square (opened 1995 in former Hess's location, converted to Macy's 9/2006)
- Poughkeepsie-Middletown MSA/Kingston - Hudson Valley Mall (opened 1995 in former Hess's location, converted to Macy's 9/2006)
- Poughkeepsie-Middletown MSA/Middletown - Galleria at Crystal Run (opened 1992 as G. Fox, became Filene's 1993, converted to Macy's 9/2006)
- Poughkeepsie-Middletown MSA/Poughkeepsie - Poughkeepsie Galleria (opened 1987 as G. Fox, became Filene's 1993, converted to Macy's 9/2006)
- New York MSA/West Nyack, Rockland County - Palisades Center (opened 1998, converted to Macy's 9/2006) .
- Providence - Providence Place (opened 1999, converted to Macy's 9/2006)
- Warwick - Warwick Mall (opened 1970, converted to Macy's 5/2006) from 135,000 to
- [Warwick, Rhode Island]-[Rhode Island Mall] (Converted from G. Fox in 1990, closed in 1993 to consolidate as the Warwick Mall across the street already had a larger store.)