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20th century Benson Buildings business economics history Listed on National Register of Historic Places Military Avenue

History of Department Stores in Benson

The Benson Commercial Historic District has been home to several department stores. This is a history of the Omaha neighborhood’s stores.

Benson had several department stores throughout the years. Some of them ran at the same time, and some of them were old. The popular Corbaley store in Benson started as Corbaley’s Department Store in the 1890s, and became exclusively a shoe store in 1930. Other department stores in Benson included McDonald’s, Grossman, Yergy’s, and Pancoast’s. Some of the buildings these stores were located in were included in the Benson Commercial Historic District, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2020. This is a history of them.

Corbaley Department Store

Opened at 6113 Maple Street, the Corbaley Department Store operated in Benson for just a few years before becoming a shoe store. This building is not part of the Benson Commercial Historic District.

McDonald Department Store

J.M. McDonald Co. Department Store at 6025 Military Avenue in Benson Historical District, Omaha, Nebraska
This was the J.M. McDonald Co. Department Store at 6065 Military Avenue in Benson.

The McDonald Department Store was a large regional chain that opened at 6065 Military Avenue in 1948. Women’s and men’s clothing, furniture, hardware, china, shoes, toys, work clothes, furniture, and other housewares were sold there until it closed around 1963. This building is included in the Benson Commercial Historic District.

Grossman Department Store

Grossman Department Store, N. 61st and Military Rd., Omaha, Nebraska
This was the Grossman Department Store at N. 61st and Military Avenue in Benson.

The building at North 61st and Military Avenue was built in 1925. A store was opened there by A.L. Randall in 1925, and in 1950 it Morris Grossman bought it. Referring to themselves as “the friendly, busy store in Benson,” it was the “outfitters for the whole family” that claimed to be “a complete shopping center for for popular priced ready to wear, shows, work clothing, mens’ and boys’ wear, domestics and infants’ wear.” It closed around 1964 when Mrs. Grossman passed away, and Edith Pancoast took over.

Pancoast Department Store

The Pancoast Department Store was at 6073 Maple Street, Benson Commercial Historic District, Omaha, Nebraska
The Pancoast Department Store was at 6073 Maple Street from 1965 to 1981.

After Mrs. Grossman passed away, the store became Pancoast’s Department Store. Starting in 1965, Dean and Edith Pancoast operated the store before retiring with five regular employees doing the same at the same time. With narrow aisles and wooden shelves, the store was out of step with the times. The building was owned by Metropolitan Building and Loan for the Odd Fellows. It was the longest lasting department store in Benson, and closed permanently in 1981. The building still stands today, but was not included in the Benson Commercial Historic District.

Yergey’s Department Store

Yergey Department Store, 4739 Military Ave, Benson neighborhood, Omaha, Nebraska.
Yergey Department Store was at 4739 Military Ave in Benson.

Yergy’s Department Store, also spelled Yergey’s, was officially opened at 4737 Military Avenue in 1951. However, it had been open for decades earlier as Yergey’s Grocery Store, Yergey’s Hardware Store, Yergey’s Furniture Store, and later Yergey’s Variety Store. In 1958, the company incorporated as Yergey’s Department Store.

Yergy's Department Store, N. 48th and Military Ave. in the Benson neighborhood, Omaha, Nebraska.
This was the second location of Yergy’s Department Store at N. 48th and Military Ave. in Benson.

In 1961, Yergey’s opened up a rental store at 4803 Military Avenue, and both locations operated as Yergey’s Department Store for a few years. In 1966, a fire destroyed half of the original building, and although the damage was covered by insurance, the founder Arthur Yergey decided to close the business. The Yergeys moved away from Omaha a few years later. The second building still stands today.

Other Department Stores in Benson

Brandeis, North Omaha, Nebraska
There were two Brandeis department store locations in North Omaha.

After running as a Hested’s Five & Dime from 1951 to 1959, the storefront at 6022 Maple Street became a Brandeis Department Store. This building is not included in the Benson Commercial Historic District. The K-Mart at North 72nd and Ames Avenue opened in 1967, and demolished in 2000.

Benson Department Store Tour

  1. Brandeis (1965-1971), 6022 Maple Ave.
  2. Corbaley Department Store (1921-1923), 6113 Maple St.
  3. Grossman Department Store (1950-1964), 6073 Maple Ave.
  4. McDonald Department Store (1946-1963), 6065 Maple Ave.
  5. Pancoast’s Department Store (1965-1981), 6073 Maple Ave.
  6. Yergy’s Department Store (1951-1963), 4803 Military Ave. and 4737-39 Military Ave.

Do you remember the department stores in Benson? Did you work or shop there? Please share your memories in the comments section!

Thanks to Sam Swanson and Jill Benz for contributions to this article.

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BONUS PICS!

Yergy's Department Store, 4737 Military Ave., Benson neighborhood, Omaha, Nebraska
This is an ad for the original Yergy’s Department Store location at N. 44th and Military Ave. in Benson.
Pancoast Department Store, 6073 Maple Street in the Benson Commercial Historic District, Omaha, Nebraska
The Pancoast Department Store was at 6073 Maple Street in Benson.
The Pancoast Department Store, 6073 Maple Street, Benson Commercial Historic District, Omaha, Nebraska.
From 1965 to 1981, the Pancoast Department Store was at 6073 Maple Street in Benson Commercial Historic District.

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