Encyclopedia ofChicago
Entries : Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co.
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Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co.

 

 

 

Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co.

This leading hardware dealership was the descendant of a Chicago store called Tuttle, Hibbard & Co., which took that name in 1855 when William G. Hibbard became a partner. In 1865, Hibbard was joined by Franklin F. Spencer, and the enterprise was renamed Hibbard & Spencer. By 1867, the company's annual sales of hardware had reached $1 million. When longtime company employee A. C. Bartlett became a partner in 1882, the company's name became Hibbard, Spencer & Bartlett & Co. When Spencer died in 1890, the company was already among the leading wholesalers of hardware in the United States. In 1903, the year Hibbard died, the company opened a 10-story warehouse next to State Street Bridge in downtown Chicago. In 1932, the company introduced a new line of hand tools under the brand name “True Value.” By 1948, Hibbard's annual sales reached nearly $30 million. Business slowed and profits were shrunk, however, as new hardware cooperatives began to bypass traditional wholesalers. In 1962, the company's owners, who wanted to move into the real-estate business, sold the hardware operations and the “True Value” brand to John Cotter for $2.5 million. See also True Value Hardware.