William H. Frear's bazaar,
long and widely known by visitation and advertisement as on
the south side of Broadway, between Second and River streets,
attracts to its extensive salesrooms daily a larger concourse
of town and country customers than is elsewhere seen in the
city. The vast stock of goods needed to supply their wants is
partly visible in the fifty-four departments into which the
great establishment is divided. The spacious storage rooms in
the five-story building are temporary depositories for undisplayed
goods. Imported and domestic fabrics, silks, velvets, laces,
and ribbons, fans, gloves, handkerchiefs, and hosiery, cloaks,
capes, and wraps, underclothing, corsets, collars, and cuffs,
bijoutry, toilet articles, parasols, umbrellas, traveling bags,
and trunks, house-furnishing goods, and a thousand and one other
salable things draw throngs of eager buyers to the counters
of this busy mart on Washington Square.
More than two hundred men and
women give attention to the sale of goods on the first and second
floors. As many as three hundred and seventy employes have been
required at one time to dispatch the business of the popular
bazaar. In 1890, the mail order department forwarded goods to
forty states and territories, and held correspondence with customers
having seven hundred and seventy-two different post-office addresses.
In the advertising department are great folios in which are
pasted every advertisement since 1865, which has been inserted
in newspapers to give publicity to the display of new goods.
The sales in the retail department have exceeded $1,200,000
in a year. A record of those of a day shows receipts aggregating
more than $12,000. The current expenses of a single year have
required an expenditure of $200,000. There is probably not a
city in the world of the same population as that of Troy in
which a retail dry goods house commands so large a trade as
this notable emporium. The main salesroom in the first floor
extends along Broadway one hundred feet, with a depth of one
hundred and nineteen. The part extending to the entrances on
Second Street has a width of about fifty feet and a depth of
one hundred and thirty.
The brick building, originally
four stories high, erected in 1835, by Le Grand Cannon, had
been known since that year as Cannon Place. Lot 131, fifty by
one hundred and thirty feet, was leased on March 10th, 1789,
by Jacob D. Van der Heyden to Mathise Vandenburgh at a yearly
ground rent of three pounds five shillings. Thence it successively
passed to Elias Lee, Nathan Betts, Nathan and Stephen Warren,
Eliakim Warren, and, on October 13th, 1831 to Le Grand Cannon.
On May 4th, 1891, the property embracing the lots 130 and 131
and the buildings on them was sold to William H. Frear, who
that day gave a check for $124,000 to George H. Cramer, agent
of the heirs of Le Grand Cannon, in part payment for it.
The business career of William
H. Frear in Troy began on March 1st, 1859, when he became a
salesman in the dry goods store of John Flagg, at No. 12 Fulton
Street, in the Boardman Building, on the north-east corner of
River and Fulton streets. He and Sylvanus Haverly having, on
February 11th, 1865, entered into partnership as Haverly &
Frear, on March 9th, that year, engaged in the sale of dry goods
at No. 322 River Street, between Fulton and Grand Division streets.
On the admission of John Flagg as a partner on March 16th, 1868,
the firm took the name of Flagg, Haverly, & Frear, and on
April 9th following, occupied Nos. 3 and 4 Cannon Place, where
Decker & Rice had previously a dry goods and millinery store.
On the withdrawal of Sylvanus Haverly on January 2d, 1869, Flagg
& Frear continued the business until the dissolution of
the partnership on March 1st, 1874, from which time, William
H. Frear has individually conducted it.