The Life and works of Timothy Eaton and Frank Woolworth
THE LIFE AND WORKS OF TIMOTHY EATON AND FRANK WOOLWORTH 8
TheLife and works of Timothy Eaton and Frank Woolworth
TheLife and works of Timothy Eaton and Frank Woolworth
BothTimothy Eaton and Frank Woolworth were extremely successfulbusinessmen. They established stores with unique means of attractingcustomers and winning competition. Timothy Eaton, born in March 1834was a successful merchant in the history of America. He was born ofparents who were farmers in County Antrim at Clogher, Ireland. Bornin a family of nine children, Eaton was to become one of the mostsuccessful retailers in Canada. Much of the retail business today isattributed to the creativity and the genius of Eaton. Timothy leftschool at the age of thirteen and was employed in a local store to anemployer who was ruthless and inconsiderate (Santink& Eaton, 1994)1.However, timothy took this challenge as a learning experience, and itshaped him to be the employer whom he became later in life. It isvital to point out that Timothy was raised in a religious family andthis taught him the skill of differentiating what was wrong and whatwas right. Timothy migrated to Canada where his brothers and sistershad migrated to as a result of the potato famine in their country.
Hismigration to Canada has largely been viewed as the opportunity thatbrought about his breakthrough. It was clear to Timothy and his twoolder brothers that the extension of the Grand Trunk Railway intoGeorgetown Guelph and Stratford in 1856, would bring forthopportunities for business.
Asa result, they started business immediately. It is, however, criticalto note that Timothy was first employed as a bookkeeper in a localstore in Glen Williams (Santink& Eaton, 1994)2.This was the first job that Timothy did after migrating to Canada.Since the business that Timothy had started with his brother was inthe local center if Kirkton.
Theydecided to move the business to St. Mary’s, which was a denselypopulated and busier center (Santink& Eaton, 1994)2.This is where Timothy Started the T. Eaton bakery. It is evident thatthe business career of timothy was that of competition andcreativity. His business received enormous competition from thealready established retail stores. However, through his creativity,Timothy adopted the modern known criteria in retail stores of cashbuying. It was the first concept to be heard of in Canada. Thisattracted the curiosity of customers who stormed his store. All inall, the competition was intense and the bakery business at St.Mary’s was dissolved (Santink& Eaton, 1994)2.
Hisconcepts and creative business operations were responsible for hissuccess. After he failed in his bakery business at St. Mary’s, heshifted to the bigger city of Toronto upon the advice of his wifewhom he met and married at St. Mary’s. This is where Timothy methis breakthrough. It is at Toronto that Timothy bought WilliamJennings dry goods store for $6,500 (Santink& Eaton, 1994)2.He adopted various strategies such as the goods satisfactory or moneyrefunded strategy. This was critical in his success. He createdconfidence amongst the consumers who flocked his stores.
Thisalso helped him acquire a competitive edge against his competitors.It is also worth noting that Timothy offered fair prices to hiscustomers and his operations were on cash terms (Santink& Eaton, 1994)3.Eaton realized that the wholesale business was not profitable and in1883 he shifted to retail business. The success of Timothy’s careerin retail business was influenced by his strategies. For instance,Timothy started importing a majority of his products from abroadsince he would get them at fair prices.
Thehallmark of Timothy’s success was his approach to the management ofhis departments. He divided his businesses into various departmentswith each department being independent. Eaton store offered variousgoods and services under one roof. Such services included shoerepair, restaurants and waiting rooms (Santink& Eaton, 1994)3.In addition, Timothy’s business success was due to his specialservices that attracted customers in low seasons in Toronto. Suchspecial services included animated exhibitions and fashion shows. Hiscareer in business was also successful due to advertisements of hisstores that he continually made on the dailies. Timothy continued tointroduce other products on his stores such as drugs, sportingequipment, musical instruments and furniture in the 1890s. Later in1891, Timothy saw the official incorporation of the T. Eaton CompanyLimited on 1stof April with a capitalization of $500,000. However, thiscapitalization grew to $ 1000,000 in 1905 (Santink& Eaton, 1994)3.It is, however, critical to point out that the business was a familyowned and little financial information regarding the company wasavailable.
Dueto the increased trend that the manufacturers had started to sell toretailers, Timothy opted to start a few manufacturing businesses in1890. He ventured into the manufacturing of ready-to-wear clothes forboth gents and ladies through Wilson and Company that was establishedin 1892. He later diversified into the paint, oil, chemical drugsproduction in order to reduce costs and increase profits. It istherefore clear that Timothy Eaton was not only a successful businessman who revolutionized the retail business, but was also a devotedMethodist (Santink& Eaton, 1994).
Bornin 1852 in New York from a poor background, Frank Winfield Woolworthgrew to become one of the pioneers in the retailing methods (Hawkins,1999)4.He has been credited with the establishment of the successful andfamous “five-and-ten-cent” stores. He began his career as a clerkin a general store in his local market center. Just as Timothy Eaton,the journey of his career in business was not a one-step journey. Heexperienced various failures before succeeding. Woolworth wasimpressed by the five cent clearance sale. He started his first smallstore in Utica in 1879 from $300 inventory advance from is employer,but it soon failed (Hawkins,1999)4.
Hisspirit of resilience, by 1881, Frank had two stores operating inPennsylvania. He added ten cent items to his stores, which saw thesuccess of his stores, which were named after him. It is worth notingthat the growth of Woolworth’s stores was rapid.
Thealready established stores were responsible for the capital that heused to open other stores (Hawkins,1999)5.In addition, the capital to start new stores came from theinvestments by the managers who were largely Woolworth’s colleaguesand relatives. This is similar to Timothy’s concept in startingbusiness where he relied upon relatives to start up his stores. In1886, Woolworth moved his career to Brooklyn, New York and expandedhis business through offering a variety of goods in his chain storebusiness (Hawkins,1999)5.This was similar to Timothy Eaton’s approach where he diversifiedto various businesses to and products to increase profits.
Woolworthwas a creative and a genius in retail market. In his attempt to stocka variety of products in his chain stores, his breakthrough camealong when he stocked candy (Hawkins,1999)5.In an effort to increase profits, Woolworth was able to deal with themanufacturers directly, hence eliminating the wholesalers. Thisensured that he gained maximum profits from the sales and that heacquired his products at a relatively lower price than hiscompetitors. It also gave him a competitive edge in the highcompetitive market since he would offer his products at relativelylower prices than other retailers. Woolworth was also awareof the value of display and presentation in his business. He adoptedthe window and counter displays for all his chain stores. The redcolor was the hallmark of his stores, which was eminent in the frontof all Woolworth stores. It is vital to note that the success of theWoolworth stores was realized between 1890 to 1910 when the businessgot over 600 outlets and having an annual turnover of $ 60,558,000 by1912 (Hawkins,1999)5.
However,in a bid to eliminate competition and win the entire market,Woolworth merged with his five main competitors and formed acorporation, which was capitalized at $ 65 million. In 1913,Woolworth had accumulated enough money to build the tallestskyscraper at the time in New York by the name Woolworth building.Woolworth later died in 1919, having left F. W. Woolworth Company asuccessful and famous retail business across the world (Hawkins,1999).At the time of his death, Woolworth left the company with over 1000outlets.
Inconclusion, it is evident that the success of these two businesspeople was to revolutionize the retail business. They both came fromhumble backgrounds but later emerged as the most successful businesspeople. Whereas timothy ventured into manufacturing, Woolworthconcentrated his efforts on the retail business although adding morevariety of goods every now and then. They also both died after havingleft their business at their top levels.
Hawkins, R. (1999). “Woolworth,Frank Winfield”, in John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American NationalBiography, Volume23, (New York: OxfordUniversity Press, 1999): pp. 865- 67
Santink, L. & Eaton, T.(1994). In Ramsay Cook, ed., Dictionaryof Canadian Biography,Volume 13 (1901-1910), (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994):pp. 313-18
1 Santink, L. & Eaton, T. (1994). In Ramsay Cook, ed., Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume 13 (1901-1910), (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994): pp. 313-18
2 Santink, L. & Eaton, T. (1994). pp. 313-18
3 Santink, L. & Eaton, T. (1994). pp. 313-18
4 Hawkins, R. (1999). “Woolworth, Frank Winfield”, in John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, Volume 23, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999): pp. 865- 67
5 Hawkins, R. (1999). pp. 865-67