L. S. Ayres and Company

The Store at the Crossroads of America

Kenneth L. Turchi,

L. S. Ayres and Company: The Store at the Crossroads of America
 
 
In 1872 Lyman Ayres acquired a controlling interest in the Trade Place, a dry-goods store in Indianapolis. Two years later, he bought out his partners and renamed the establishment L. S. Ayres and Company. For the next century, Ayres was as much a part of Indianapolis as Monument Circle or the Indianapolis 500. Generations of midwestern families visited the vast store to shop, to see the animated Christmas windows, and, of course to visit Santa Claus and enjoy lunch in the Tea Room. But Ayres was more than just a department store. At its helm across three generations was a team of visionary retailers who took the store from its early silk-and-calico days to a diversified company with interests in specialty stores and discount stores (before Target and Wal-Mart). At the same time, Ayres never lost sight of its commitment to women’s fashion that gave the store the same cachet as its larger competitors in New York and Chicago.


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