Marshall Field (1834-1906)

Marshall Field of Marshall Field & Co., Chicago

He was born in Conway, Franklin Co., Massachusetts. He left school at 17 and for five years worked in his brother's dry goods store before going to Chicago where he found employment with the city's leading dry goods merchants, Cooley, Farwell & Co. He became a partner in 1862 but his stuffy attitude clashed with Farwell's cheery demeanor and three years later he accepted an invitation to go into business with Levi Leiter and Potter Palmer. Palmer sold out of the partnership and by 1867 Field, Leiter & Co. reported revenues of $12 million. In 1881, Field bought out Leiter and was now the sole partner in Marshall Field & Co., transforming the shopping experience for the Gilded Age with spectacular spaces. He imported foreign goods, gave unconditional refunds and instructed his staff not to be pushy, coining the terms, "give the lady what she wants" and "the customer is always right". In 1905, his fortune was estimated to be $125 million. 
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 17/05/2021 and last updated on 18/05/2021.