Von Maur has 22 locations in the Midwest. There are two stores in Michigan:
- Laurel Park Place, Livonia
- Briarwood Mall, Ann Arbor
- Interest-free charge card
- Free shipping and gift wrapping
- Wide selection of brand-name and designer merchandise
Quality Goods at Honest Prices
The Von Maur chain started with a store named J.H.C. Petersen & Sons in 1872 in Davenport, Iowa. The Petersen chain was acquired by Harned and Von Maur in 1916, giving the partnership two chains of department stores; Harned and Von Maur opened its own department store chain in the Davenport area in 1887. Although the chains had common ownership, they operated separately until 1928, when they were combined to form Petersen Harned Von Maur. Because the Von Maur family name fell last in the chain’s challenging mouthful, however, the folk in Iowa knew the stores simply as Petersen’s. In fact, the chain didn’t become known as Von Maur until 1989, when the family, then sole owners, sought to expand the chain regionally.
Part of the chain’s evolution included a period in the 1970s and 80s when the chain's management sought to distinguish the department stores from their competition. They did this initially by eliminating departments to concentrate on apparel and accessories. They also introduced an interest-free charge card. In the 1990s, the chain moved into Chicago and sought to distinguish itself from stores like Nordstrom by offering free services, easy returns and unparalleled customer service.
In 2004, Von Maur bought two defunct Jacobson’s stores at auction; Jacobson’s catered to a similar clientele.
The Von Maur family very consciously chose to set the chain apart from its department-store competitors. In addition to the interest-free charge card and free shipping/gift wrapping, the chain added special touches to its stores to give them a home-like feel. For instance, the store has no mannequins and often features a pianist, live canaries, fresh flowers, fireplaces and lounges for women. The Von Maur chain also relies on word-of-mouth promotion rather than circulars and has an extremely liberal return policy. As a way of insuring superior customer service, the chain pays its associates more than the typical pay scale and provides them with a relatively liberal commission.
Unlike a lot of chains, wherein the stores are virtually indistinguishable from each other location to location, Von Maur approaches each store according to the tastes and needs of its surrounding community. In fact, Von Maur stores range in size from 42,000 square feet to 203,000.