Goldfine’s By-The-Bridge, 1962

August 19, 1962

Duluth businessman Manley "Monnie" Goldfine died Wednesday at age 80. Goldfine was one of the founders of Duluth retailing icon Goldfine’s By-The-Bridge; here are some photos and articles about the store from the News Tribune’s archives. One note on the name… I saw "By-The-Bridge" punctuated and capitalized in all different kinds of ways, so I just settled on the version I liked best:

Mrs. Dennis Mahoney of 3702 Minnesota Avenue looks at clothing in the new Goldfine’s By-The-Bridge store in Duluth in 1962. Mrs. Mahoney was the first customer through the doors when the Goldfine family opened its Trading Post 26 years ago, and was given the honor again for the new store. (News-Tribune file photo)

NEW GOLDFINE’S TO OPEN MONDAY

Duluth Herald

Goldfine’s, Duluth’s newest mass-volume department store, opens its eight electronically operated doors to the public at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

The store management uses "By the Bridge" as the address of the huge new structure to stress the proximity of its Garfield Avenue location to the Duluth-Superior high bridge. Key curves and sweeps of the big bridge are reflected in interior decoration of the block-long store.

The $1.5 million structure displays a $2 million inventory in its 132,000 square feet of sales space. More than 20 merchandising departments and an 18,000-square-foot warehouse are incorporated in the massive concrete block and poured-concrete building.

Opening the store realizes "a cherished dream of our family to build the most modern and reliable shopping facility in this area," said Mrs. Fannie Goldfine Benton, president of Goldfine’s. Her sons are officers of the corporation; Erwin is general manager and Monty is merchandise manager.

Mrs. Benton said the new building "meets our fondest expectations" and is the largest enterprise undertaken by the family. …

The new store replaces Goldfine’s Trading Post building, occupied for 26 years of the company’s 39-year Duluth history. Goldfine’s has closed its Fourth Avenue West carpet and furnishings outlet, but will continue to operate its downtown store at 202 E. Superior St., Monty Goldfine said. …

Exterior of Goldfine’s By-The-Bridge, 1967 (News-Tribune file photo)

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The exterior makes extensive use of decorative concrete detailing to break the sheer massiveness of its broad length. Its main entrance is highlighted by an expanse of glass that provides customers of the store’s "Bridge Room" cafeteria with a view of the high bridge and surrounding harbor area.

A 175-ton air-conditioning system and gas heating provide comfortable interior climate. Bright lighting on the main floor hangs from a waffle-patterned poured concrete ceiling that gives the building strength over its wide-open areas.

Use of both pastel and intense wall colors in the interior decor sets off the dominant off-white of the ceiling and the blue-toned tile flooring.

An escalator flanks one side of the glass-doored main entrance; a floating staircase on the other rises to the upstairs cafeteria and furnishings, appliance, sporting goods and carpet departments and store offices. The offices are on a third-floor mezzanine.

Goldfine’s By-The-Bridge, 1968. (George Starkey / News-Tribune)

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Apparel items by the hundreds are racked in a huge department near the front door. Women’s and children’s footwear are displayed nearby. Housewares – linens, sheets and towels – men’s and boys’ sections, more than 2,500 children’s dresses, phonograph records, jewelry and cameras, coats, auto supplies, pet items, hardware, china, luggage and toys are readily accessible in the front part of the store.

A huge drug department features prescription service; its neighboring departments offer an enormous display of beauty and health aids and a snack bar.

A grocery supermarket spreads over much of the area at the northwest end of the big building. Seven modern check-out counters are racked in front of 420 lineal feet of shelf racks and counters.

A long conveyor belt system will rush customers’ grocery and meat purchases to wide parking areas at the front of the store.

Upstairs, rack upon rack of major appliances and big displays of fishing tackle and other recreational gear are to be found under bright lighting. …

A concrete ramp stretches up from Garfield Avenue to the four truck bays at the second-floor entrance to the furniture warehouse. …

Parking space for 500 cars stretches along both sides of Garfield Avenue; the Goldfines say 36 individual parcels of property were purchased over a period of several years to provide parking room. …

Goldfine’s By-The-Bridge record, jewelry and clothing departments at the store’s opening, 1962. (News-Tribune file photo)

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There was a massive fire in the store in June 1964, followed by a sale of fire-damaged merchandise that drew huge crowds in July. The store reopened in August 1964. In July 1966, the store added a pilot house on the roof. Here’s an article on its opening from the News-Tribune of August 4, 1966:

Crews lower a pilot house on to the roof of Goldfine’s By-The-Bridge on July 6, 1966. (News-Tribune file photo)

PILOT HOUSE WILL HAVE REAL SKIPPER

Duluth News-Tribune

When Goldfine’s By-The-Bridge opens its new pilot house Friday there will be an authentic Great Lakes skipper at the helm.

Capt. B.F. Davies, a retired 43-year veteran on the Great Lakes and 29 years as a shipmaster, has been engaged as captain of the pilot house recently installed on the roof of Goldfine’s store, 700 Garfield Ave.

The pilot house is from the former Great Lakes carrier Charles S. Hebard of the Wilson Marine Transit Co., a vessel Davies skippered for three years during World War II.

Davies, who supervised the installation of the pilot house, said every possible piece of equipment has been installed to assure authenticity. …

Davies said he is looking forward to meeting tourists and Duluthians when they visit the pilot house beginning Friday. He’ll be available to answer questions about the Great Lakes and, more specifically, about the operation of a huge ore carrier. …

——————

The Goldfine family sold their interest in the store to Unishops Inc. in 1971, though Manley and his brother, Erwin, stayed on in leadership roles until 1977. Unishops went through bankruptcy in the mid-1970s and announced in August 1978 that the Goldfine’s chain – also including stores in Grand Rapids, Willmar and Mankato, Minn., and Des Moines and Sioux City, Iowa - would close because it was losing money.

Goldfine’s By-The-Bridge closed on January 20, 1979, as recounted in this News-Tribune article from the following day:

CITY TRADITION ENDS: GOLDFINE’S IS CLOSED

News Tribune

Its racks picked clean by last-minute bargain hunters, Goldfine’s By-The-Bridge, the Duluth discount department store, shuddered its dying gasp and shuttered its doors for good Saturday.

Its closing brought to an end a Duluth institution begun in 1922 by the late Abe and Fannie Goldfine. …

"We are sad to see the business close, mainly because about 200 people are losing their jobs," said Manley Goldfine who, with his brother Erwin, grew up with the business. …

"An era has come to an end," Manley commented.

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The Goldfine’s building survives today as the home of Goodwill Industries.

10 thoughts on “Goldfine’s By-The-Bridge, 1962

  1. Jim Sanders was the store manager when I was hired and I really thought highly of him. John Olson from Grand Rapids was assistant store manager. I was promoted to be the Ski Salesman and binding installer, and Bike Salesman / assembler. Later Doug Bagen and another guy from Target were managers. I worked in sporting goods and sometimes hardware or automotive. Jim always made sure I got some hours as I was going to college. I worked for John Nordenstam – Moose Liver. Sportsmen from all over northern minnesota came in talk guns and stories with him. Ray Aho was another manager that had a lot of friends come into the store asking for him. John and Ray had a lot of stories and were great guys. Ray was Norweigien and would wear purple on ST Erhos Day. We had Fred Cicone, Joe Ruckavina, Terry and others in the Furniture Store with lines like ” that couch has the Ruckavina Weave, Thats a Hen Way (how much does a hen weigh? about 3 or 4 pounds). In the tile shop and carpeting was hard surface Dave and Dale Hedman. I probably got a lot of names wrong here. Diamond Jack sold Jewery and Diamonds. I remember someone moved his car one space in the parking lot to see if he would notice as he left his keys under the mat. We had Judy, Debbie Kennedy, Backlund Bros, Toni, the snack bar sisters, Jan, Mary in Pets and all of the credit department employees. Jim in Groceries, all of the buyers, Robin and tons of people that I haven’t mentioned. Jack Lake.
    The maintenance crew and cart boys. We often had a drink accross the street or in Superior after work. I was so lucky to be around so many great people. Thank you all! I played on the softball team and we won the Duluth Championship. We also made it to the state tournament that year.
    I have missed a lot of names and please post here your name and experiences or your friends/relatives names and experiences

  2. Goldfines was a great place to work. I also met my wife of 34 years there. Great people to work with and many good memories.

  3. What great memories. I was delighted to find this information.

    My first job while attending Willmar Community College in 1972 was Goldfines at Willmar’s Kandi Mall. As a 17-year old, straight off the farm to “the big city,” Goldfines had everything. I operated an electric, telescopic forklift tractor, moving large appliances from shelves which reached 30 feet to the ceiling. It was a great job for a college kid.

    The inventory was massive – everything from clothing, to appliances, and sporting goods. Better yet, employees got significant discounts. My most memorable purchases were a 17-foot AlumnaCraft canoe and a Colt Python .357 magnum revolver. What a store!

  4. There was the sign next to the escalator, welcoming people in maybe a dozen different languages. It was a great store. If you wanted tickets for anything at the Arena, you could buy them at Goldfines. Needed Skis, bindings and boots, Goldfines. Hockey ticks, fishing lures, and bowling balls drilled, go to Goldfines. I was always enamored by the pop dispensers at the concession stand back near the grocery area..

    Wasn’t Goldfines a place that Rocky Teller spent much time, or pushing it on his show?
    speaking of the fishing lures, I still have a Floating Rapala, still in it’s box. The price tag says Goldfines, $1.48 It eas purchased some time prior to 1973.

    Boot out Goodwill, and revive the Goldfines store!!!!!!!!

  5. I remember the thrill of the escalators!! First thing we had to do when we entered the store was to ride up and down a couple of times! I also worked at the Goldfine’s in Willmar and remember working the very last day it was open.

  6. When I moved to Duluth in 1982, people were still talking about how they missed Goldfine’s. It wasn’t until 2005 that I made the connection between the current Goodwill store and the former Goldfine….duh! As the Goodwill store, I enjoyed shopping there very much, too, over the years!

  7. Great photos and stories. I loved that store. It was the first of its kind in Duluth, I think. I remember the grocery department very well, and I still have some kitchen items I bought there in 1968.

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