Gimbel’s Gambit

January 1, 1948


AGOOD BOSS has to know how to handle people considerat­ely to get maximum results,” boomed Bernard F. Gimbel,

62, the 6-foot, 210-pound president of Gimbel Bros. department stores. Gimbel, a former Penn fullback and wrestler, had guided his family’s chain from its humble roots in Philadelph­ia to a preeminent spot in New York City retail, fighting neighborho­od rival Macy’s every step of the way. His management theory: “As Gimbel’s head man, it’s my job to be a builder-upper, to strengthen the morale of my

team, never to reprimand anyone in public, to give everyone a clearheade­d, followable conception of what has to be done.” Gimbel would retire five years later with his stores’ sales having grown 40 times over, to $600 million (nearly $6 billion in today’s money), during his tenure.

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