Carlisle’s Retail Industry in 1901

According to a paper written by E.F. Hann for a Dickinson College Sociology class in 1901, there were a multitude of retail establishments in Carlisle in the early 1900s. The author portrays the diverse services offered by the 149 merchants in Carlisle. While many of the retailers provided food, clothing and basic needs, there were also speciliaty stores. For example, there were 22 grocers, 15 “gents furnishings and tailors,” and 11 coal and wood dealers. Specialty stores included “agriculural implements,” “stationers” and “tobacconists.”

In addition to these smaller retail stores, there were also two large department stores in Carlisle at this time. They were Behney and Snyder and the Imperial Dry Goods’ Company.

It is interesting to me that Carlisle was able to support 149 merchants while also sustaining two large department stores. For the revitalization of Downtown Carlisle, would it be useful to consider how and why Carlisle sustained small merchants as well as department stores in the early 1900s?


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