When Jacob Marcus Offers You Candy, Kid … Take It

by Paula Bosse

jacJacob Marcus (1846-1929)

by Paula Bosse

When you think of legendary Dallas retailers known for employing retirees as “greeters,” chances are you might think of Elliott’s Hardware. But decades before Elliott’s even appeared on the hardware horizon, “Grampy” Marcus was welcoming customers to the department store founded by his daughter, her ex-husband, and his son: Neiman-Marcus.

The headline and caption for the photo above:

Friend of Shoppers’ Kids Dies
The familiar figure of Jacob Marcus seated in his chair near the Main street entrance to the Neiman-Marcus store will recall his personality to many Dallas shoppers. Mr. Marcus died Saturday at the home of a daughter, Mrs. J. M. Schultz, 3522 Wendelken street.

Jacob Marcus was a German-Jewish immigrant, born in 1846 in Germany near the Polish border. He settled in Louisville, Kentucky where he worked as a cotton broker and raised a family. In the 1890s, the family relocated to Texas, a logical move for a man in the cotton trade. In 1907 Neiman-Marcus opened, and before you knew it — cue montage of calendar pages ripping away and sand falling through an hourglass —  Jacob had retired and was ensconced inside the front entrance, greeting customers and plying children with candy. As his grandson Stanly Marcus wrote:

My grandfather Marcus, a retired cotton merchant, was given a seat of honor at the front door, where he greeted customers cheerfully and supplied any accompanying children with candy from his coat pocket.

Different times.

Marcus was, by all accounts, a sweet old man. Seems like the newspaper could have run a happier picture of him!


jacob-marcus_dmn_052629-ADNeiman-Marcus memorial advertisement (DMN, May 26, 1929)

jacob-marcus_dmn_052729(DMN, May 27, 1929)


Photograph and caption from The Dallas Morning News, May 26, 1929.

The DMN article below (from Oct. 2, 1927) has more information on — and a couple of quotes from — Jacob Marcus (click to see a larger image).


Stanley Marcus quote from his book Minding the Store.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.