Henry Payne and William M. Burdine opened their first store “Payne and Burdine” on April 22, 1896, in Bartow, Florida, as a carriage-trade shop, for the well-to-do in Polk county. The building was a two-story structure located on the corner of Main Street and Central Avenue in the shadow of a large oak tree.
When ready to open, they placed their first ad in the Courier-Informant Newspaper announcing:
“PAYNE AND BURDINE THE NEW DRY GOODS FIRM Mrs. Read, Mrs. Quarterman, and Paul Overby, will be found ready to serve you.”
The Burdines continued to run weekly ads featuring “the latest styles from New York,” “The One Price, Spot Cash Dry Goods House,” then in September 1896 they ran an ad that offered a, “’GRAND ANNUAL EXCURSION’ When railroads wanted to create a flutter and rake in the cash they ran excursions. ‘THAT’S JUST WHAT WE WANT TO DO.’”
Originally from Verona, Mississippi, in 1890, W. M. Burdine first settled in Homeland, Florida, with his wife Molly (Nee: Mary Taylor Freeman) their six children, Edward Lee, John Marion, Willie Estelle, Robert Freeman, Roddy Bell, and William M. Jr. He bought land and built a two-story house a mile from what is known today as Homeland Heritage Park and planted an orange grove on the part of the property. From stationary found in the mid-1990s in the area, it was discovered that Burdine’s first store was “W. M. Burdine General Merchandise, Fruits and Vegetables, Orange Groves and Land for Sale.” It is unclear if the Burdines remained in the community of Homeland or moved to Bartow. Suspicion is they moved to Bartow as his youngest daughter, Bessie Anderson Burdine, was born in Bartow in 1896.
Using paper voting machines for the first time in Bartow, Burdine was elected to the School Board on October 6, 1986. Even back then, there was voter fraud in Florida. Out of the 389 who voted, 25 were declared to live too far away to vote.
By August 18, 1897, Payne no longer wanted to be partners with Burdine. John Marion, twenty-one, went into business with his father, and the store became Burdine and Son. With the change in ownership, William also wanted to move the dry goods company to South Florida. On a trip down to Miami, he purchases a 100-foot lot one block off Flagler on South Miami Avenue. Once the building was built, Edward and John hauled goods by wagon from Bartow to Miami following the old military roads.
On August 3, 1898, Mr. and Mrs. Burdine, their children, and Mrs. Quarterman left Bartow for the last time and became permanent residents of Miami. During the first year in Miami, the store did $2,600 in business, which “tickled him to death”.
Bessie Read, the youngest daughter, would reflect on the Seminole Indians that would come into the store in a single file line. When everyone finished shopping their leader would produce large amounts of cash to pay. Money that they had made selling hides and plumes.
Once in Miami, the Burdine’s again changed the name of the store to “Burdines ‘The Florida Store.’” Roddy Burdine took leadership of the store in 1912. It was under his leadership that the store grew into a full-fledged department store and continued to expand. The 1920s land-boom in Florida enabled him to open his first branch store in Miami Beach.
Roddy also opened an international mail-order program in the late 1940s that served Latin America. Military personnel stationed in Cuba would send a supply ship to Miami every six months with an order for Burdines.
Needing financial support, Burdines merged with Federated Department Stores, Inc. in 1956. This allowed Burdines to push north and westward in the 1970s and 1980s. By the time Federated merged with Allied Stores Corporation, there were fifty-eight Burdines stores in Florida.
Eventually, with the merger into Allied, Burdines became Macy’s, and the original flagship store closed in March 2018.