In 1928 two brothers in Detroit, Michigan opened the first
Winkelman's department store. Over the next seventy years more
than 100 stores were added in locations across the Mid-West and
for much of the twentieth century, Winkelman s has been
synonymous with fashion and style.
Winkelman and his brother, Leon, who co-founded Winkelman
Stores, Inc., dreamed of giving customers what they called in
1928 elegance and personalized service at minimum cost.From
the beginning, their concept was to develop a chain of stores in
suburbia, predating the concept of suburban shopping centers
by a good 20 years.
The brothers inherited the merchant tradition from their father,
Moses, who used to travel from Detroit to Port Huron to sell his
goods. His journeys once took him to Manistique, where the
beauty of the North Country captured his heart. He settled there
and opened a department store.
Isadore Winkelman was born in 1901 in Manistique in Michigan's
Upper Peninsula, the fourth and youngest son of Moses and
Hattie. He planned to work as an engineer. But when as a
teenager he found work in Detroit selling mens clothes, he fell
in love with the city and convinced his family to follow him
Within two years, Isadore helped his father liquidate the
Manistique business and sell the family home for $5,000. Then,
with the help of a $2,000 loan co-signed by his father, and
$2,000 of his own savings, he opened Winkelman s Toggery, the
first in what was to have been a chain of men's stores. But he
soon sensed the bigger market was in women's wear, and so, with
his brother, Leon, he opened "Winkelman Brothers Apparel, Inc."
Leon Winkelman was born in 1895 in Manistique. He had that rare
feeling for merchandise which is the mark of a true merchant.
When the brothers opened their first store for women in 1928,
the opening was almost coincident with the big depression that
hit Detroit. Had their goal been mere dollars and cents they
would have quit then and there. Instead, the brothers boldly
enlarged their operations, opening new shops regardless of the
shifting economic climate.
The prototype for what was to become the chain of women's
fashion stores opened at 5832 W. Fort Street in Detroit. The
Fort Street store had Venetian mirrors, thick carpets, Spanish
chairs, and free bath salts on opening day. Before Isadore died
in 1979, the business had grown to 86 stores in three states.
Leon enjoyed diversified interests. He was a big game hunter, A
devotee of art and music, a lover of his fellows and a true
philanthropist. To quote from an editorial published in the
Detroit News at the time of his death in 1958, "Humility was the
personality trademark of a man who had the mercantile idea of
bringing the service, the smartness, of the exclusive couturier
to the neighborhood shop. Devotion to that approach, according
to students of the business, led to the growth of the Winkelman
As Leon used to say, Running a store today is not merely a
matter of laying in a stock of goods sufficient to last the
season, putting a price ticket on things, opening the door and
waiting for the customer. The world has been educated up to a
measure of value and service to which it is entitled for every
dollar it spends. And, not the smallest part of that service
lies in personal contact between the merchant and those whom he
hopes to make his friends as well as merely purchasers.
Referring to his original desire to be an engineer, Isadore used
to joke that his work had been predestined. "Winkelman means
storekeeper," he would say, referring to its German translation.
"How can you get to be a bridge builder with a name like that?"
A long time friend and colleague described Isadore as "One of a
kind. He was the kindest individual I have ever known, always
helping people in need without seeking any of the accolades." He
was a self-made man who, through hard work and dedication,
became the head of a major corporation.
We are ecstatic about this new startup. When we decided to
launch Winkelman s on the Internet, we knew that excellent
customer service would be a crucial factor in our success. explains Justin Winkelman,
President, Winkelman s LLC. Winkelman s has long been
celebrated and recognized as one of the nation s historic
department stores. Our
heritage is in Detroit, and I can't think of a better place to
launch this new company. It s with my Grandfather, Isadore, and
Great-grandfather s spirit that I, as the fourth-generation of
retailers, bring Winkelman s back.
The name Winkelman's and the Winkelman's "W" are
Registered Trademarks. XL Sportswear is a wholly owned subsidiary
of Winkelman's LLC. XL Sportswear logo
2003. All content on this website is also Copyrighted.