Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Albion Recorder, August 30, 1997, pg. 4
A familiar landmark in downtown Albion in the early 20th century was Bullen’s Big Busy Store, located on the northeast corner of South Superior and East Cass Streets. It was owned by George T. Bullen, a prominent civic leader, who lived in the former Samuel V. Irwin home at 103 Irwin Avenue. The store opened in 1894 at its first location, 202 S. Superior St., and then in 1903 it moved to its permanent location.
Bullen’s was Albion’s first super department store, and every bit of space in the large three story (plus a basement) building was occupied. Folks from Albion and surrounding towns would come to shop here. The main floor stocked luggage, yard goods, ribbons, laces, corsets and other items. The second story carried the latest in women’s fashions. The third floor contained rugs, floor coverings and draperies. The basement contained the appliance department and cookware, and the ever-popular toy department for children.
One of the thrills for area children was to be able to ride from floor to floor on the elevator, the only one in town. Mr. Bullen would stand just outside the front door with a smile on his face and a greeting or a handshake for all. The firm employed fifteen employees, which increased to thirty during the Christmas season. Store deliveries were first made by horse-drawn wagon, and then eventually a truck was purchased.
George Bullen retired in 1928, and passed the business on to his sons Donald and Ralph. George passed away in 1933. The store was closed by his sons in 1934. The building was then rented to the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (that’s A & P Grocery) which operated there for many years.
At the time Bullens’ closed during the Great Depression, a professional auctioneer was hired to liquidate the inventory. A large sign which declared, “Closing Our Doors Forever” was placed on the front, and smaller signs stated such things as “Help! We Quit!,” “We Soon Fade Out of the Picture,” and “So Long, Albion!” This week we present a photograph of that 1933 scene from downtown Albion.
Bullen’s Big Busy Store
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic