Raymond's was an eastern Massachusetts department store company of the 19th and 20th centuries, extant from the 1870s to 1972. The main store was at Washington Street and Franklin Street in downtown Boston.

Shortly after the Great Boston fire of 1872 that destroyed much of the downtown shopping district, George J. Raymond (1852-1915)[1] pitched a tent downtown and sold an assortment of hats he bought at a fire sale. His store then later became a permanent fixture on Washington Street.[2][3]

The store was more downscale and freewheeling than nearby competitors such as Filene's and Jordan Marsh. A typical sale (supported by advertising and covered by the local newspapers) would find the contents of an entire distressed or overstocked out-of-town clothing store bought up and dumped in random piles on tables and counters. But Raymond's did carry many good-quality items, often at good prices.[4][5]

The store's mascot was rustic bearded swamp yankee Unkle Eph, who mangled English spelling; the store's slogan was "Where U Bot The Hat". Typical advertising copy was "Moar! Jess Arrived!... Nother big shipment ov the overstock frum a Midwestern Dept. stoar..."[6] An annual sales stunt in the early twentieth century was "originashun day" (the anniversary of the founding of the store), featuring the arrival of Uncle Eph from South Station in a hay wagon drawn by oxen, along with his hillbilly band and various rural vaudeville characters.[5][2] Unkle Eph (pronounced "Eef" and short for Ephraim) was based on a real person, Congregational minister Harvey B. Eastman of Slatersville, Rhode Island.[3][7]

There were at times also satellite stores in Arlington, Dedham, Lynn, Malden, Quincy, Methuen, and Waltham.[2][3] The first branch, in Quincy, opened around 1952. The second branch was created in 1954 by taking over the P. B. Magrane department store of Lynn.[6] The Lynn, store moved from the P. B. Magrane building to a new anchor store in a shopping plaza on State St., then to a store on the Lynnway.

Beginning in the 1950s, the Boston Redevelopment Authority embarked on an aggressive program of urban renewal. In 1966 the city forced Raymond's out of its aging and somewhat ramshackle complex of attached buildings at Washington and Franklin Streets, which forced a move down Washington Street toward a less desirable location, the old R. H. White building near the so-called Combat Zone. The move was intended to be temporary, and Raymond's was to return to a new, modern building at its old site. But sales fell badly at the new site, and Raymond's lacked the capital to complete the project (Woolworth's stepped in and completed and occupied the building and had the back office operations of National Shawmut Bank take space on upper floors). The company held on in its new location until 1972, when it went out of business.[6]


  1. ^ Sudbury Historical Society (2012). Sudbury. Images of America. Arcadia Publishing. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-7385-9754-6. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Tom Long (February 28, 1998). "ROBERT C. SCHAYE, WAS PRESIDENT OF RAYMOND'S DEPARTMENT STORE; 83". Boston Globe. Retrieved December 28, 2016.[dead link]
  3. ^ a b c Charles Boston (October 7, 2008). "Some Fun Raymond's Trivia". Shopping Days In Retro Boston. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  4. ^ O'Connor, Thomas H. (1995). Building A New Boston: Politics and Urban Renewal, 1950-1970. Northeastern University Press. p. 6. ISBN 978-1555532468. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  5. ^ a b John Gould (August 4, 1995). "A 'Hero' Away From Home Saves a Boston Tradition". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Charles Boston (October 3, 2012). "Reminiscing about Raymond's and Retro Boston with the Legendary James Schaye". Shopping Days In Retro Boston. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  7. ^ Charles Boston (April 29, 2011). "The Man Behind Unkle Eph...A Raymond's Department Store of Boston Legend". Shopping Days In Retro Boston. Retrieved December 28, 2016.