The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

reader would be best served by reading both books: first, A Gathering of
Saints, which is more readable, thereby gaining an overall feeling for
what happened; and then Salamander with its full flavor of specific
events, places, and individuals-particularly the elusive personality of
Mark W. Hofmann himself.
College of the Sequoias NEWELL G. BRINGHURST
Dillard's: The First Fifty Years. By Leon Joseph Rosenberg. Foreword by
Sam Walton. (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1988.
Pp. xx+ 141. Foreword, acknowledgments, illustrations, appendix,
notes, bibliography, index. $15.95.)
This brief but detailed account of Dillard's concentrates primarily on
the extraordinary career of founder William T. Dillard, who opened
his first small store in Nashville, Arkansas, in 1938 and today is chair-
man of the board of a family-owned corporation operating approxi-
mately 150 department stores in ten states. Born and reared in Mineral
Springs, Arkansas, Dillard gained retailing knowledge from his mer-
chant father. In 1947 he sold his original business and moved to a
larger market in Texarkana where he purchased control of an older,
declining department store. His merchandising strategy emphasized
extravagant advertising campaigns in area newspapers and personal
biannual buying trips with his wife to purchase all the store's products.
Expansion steadily occurred as Dillard bought stores in Magnolia,
Tyler, Tulsa, and Little Rock.
By the early 196os Dillard recognized that the era of downtown de-
partment stores was ending and became one of the first retailers to
establish stores in suburban shopping malls near Sun Belt cities. In a
flurry of innovative activity he installed electronic cash registers, devel-
oped a comprehensive computer marketing system, formed a subsidi-
ary investment company to handle credit sales, and included all five of
his children in the management of the company. Based in Little Rock,
the corporation presently continues an aggressive program of acquir-
ing new properties both in the Southeast and Southwest, especially
in Texas.
Rosenberg has produced an informative and well-written, if highly
sympathetic, account of an important American entrepreneur and his
company. Because no corporate archives are extant, the author relied
heavily on personal interviews with William T. Dillard, E. Ray Kemp,
vice chairman of the firm's board of directors, and other Dillard's
executives. Rosenberg also consulted contemporary newspapers, trade
journals, and magazines, as well as a handful of secondary sources re-
lating to Arkansas history.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/. Accessed July 13, 2014.