Her journey began when a handwritten note about an unknown ancestor fell from the pages of an elderly cousin's scrapbook. For the next twelve years, Elizabeth Thalhimer Smartt set off on an obsessive quest to find the true story of her family and their beloved department store Thalhimers.
Finding Thalhimers chronicles more than 150 years of the Thalhimers’ store and four generations of family leadership, tracing the company’s growth from a modest dry goods shop in Richmond, Virginia, to a 26-store chain across Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Thalhimers, renowned for excellent customer service, quality goods, and business integrity, became a community center as much as a store. It was a “corporate citizen” before the term even existed. Thalhimers witnessed history from the great conflagration of the Civil War to the sit-ins of the Civil Rights era, and from the rise of ready-to-wear to the arrival of the big-box giants.
Elizabeth’s grandfather, William B. Thalhimer Jr., was the last and the most successful Thalhimer to preside over the store’s operations. Along with so many of its American retail brethren, Thalhimers closed its doors in 1992. While the store’s headquarters was being demolished in 2005, Smartt suffered the dual loss of her grandfather and their family’s beloved business. In a fresh and vibrant voice, the author tells that story from an insider's perspective. A poignant portrait of a remarkable American family and their retail dynasty, Finding Thalhimers is a book to be treasured.