At the Lion Department store they shopped even more extensively. There were many departments, and they visited them all. The busy clerks paid little attention to them. They wandered happily about. They chose rhinestone side combs, jeweled hat pins, gay pompadour pouffs. They chose fluffy collars and belts and pocket books. They chose black lace stockings and taffeta petticoats and embroidered corset covers. It was hard to tear themselves away but they did so at last. (Quote from Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace)
There were several dry goods or department stores on South Front Street where Maud and her friends may have shopped. It is known that Maud’s family shopped at Brett’s so that most likely would have been the store she would have chosen to write about in the Betsy-Tacy books.
George E. Brett established the George E. Brett Dry Goods store on Front Street in Mankato in 1868. The business was successful, and became known as the store to shop in Mankato. The store was in constant evolution from its inception. Fabrics remained the mainstay item, but it was the addition of such items as shoes, handkerchiefs, millinery, and specialty furs that kept Brett’s fashionable and ahead of the competition. As the years went by, there was less emphasis on piece goods and more emphasis on ready-to-wear. In 1978 urban renewal incorporated the Brett’s building into the enclosed Mankato Mall. With the decline of the Mankato Mall, Brett’s announced it would be closing in 1992 after 124 years of business in Mankato. The store had been operated by five generations of the Brett family.
September lay upon Front Street in pale golden light. Horses were drowsing at hitching rings and poles. In front of the Lion Department Store a bronze lion stood guard over a drinking trough. (Quote from Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace)
Although Maud was most likely describing Brett’s Dry Goods Store when she writes about visits to the department store, there is little doubt that JB & D Richards Dry Goods store was the inspiration for her choice of the fictional name. A bronze lion once stood in front of the JB & D Richards Dry Goods Store. The slogan used in its advertising was the “Sign Of The Golden Lion.” (from Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley by Julie Schrader)