Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Voices from the Past: The End of Schmelzer's (1930)


There's been some discussion of late of Schmelzer's of Kansas City, Missouri--an old and regal trade house. When I penned a "Reels of the Trade" column on Schmelzer's a few years back, I reported they went out of business in 1930 but got that information from a blurb in a newspaper. Thank to J.K. Garrett & L.P. Brooks, we now know more about the end of the company. This article they sent me came from a December 1930 Sporting Goods Illustrated magazine.


Schmelzer Co. to Withdraw From Field

Stocks Cleared Out; Firm Will Be Dissolved, According to Report

A LANDMARK OF THE WEST

Founder Made Guns for Buffalo Hunters in Days of the Covered Wagon


According to authenticated newspaper reports, Schmelzer's, Inc., Kansas City, Mo., has withdrawn entirely from the sporting goods field. Stocks of merchandise owned by the company were, late in October, being cleared out and the firm had announced its intention of dissolving.

Thus passes one of the oldest, and in its day, most outstanding firms of the sporting goods trade. Founded as a gun shop more than a generation ago, the firm became a general retail sporting goods outlet, then a jobbing house, and, in recent years, a combined jobbing and retailing house handling all lines of sporting and athletic goods.

Where George Lowe Started

George Lowe, head of the Lowe & Campbell organization, was athletic buyer for Schmelzer's in the days of its prime. For the past 10 years the concern appeared to make little headway. Several months ago Schmelzer's was declared bankrupt, and in a receiver's sale Harvey Schmelzer, grandson of the founder, bought the retail stocks, changed the firm name slightly, and reentered the retail business. At the time of the bankruptcy the school and college division was sold to Lowe & Campbell.

Back in the heydey of the Old West, C.J. Schmelzer and his father made guns for the pioneers. They sold large bills of supplies to buffalo hunters who were under contract to furnish meat to railroad construction crews. A brief history of the firm appeared some time ago in ILLUSTRATED.


-- Dr. Todd