top of page

Younker Brothers Iowa's Roots: Iowa Time Machine June 16, 1926

Iowa Time Machine ⏰: On June 16, 1926, Marcus Younker passed away. Along with his brothers Lipman and Samuel, Marcus founded the successful retail company Younkers in Keokuk in 1856.

After being born in Poland, the Younker brothers immigrated to the United States as teenagers. While Samuel and Marcus initially settled in New York, Lipman headed west to settle in Keokuk in 1854. When the brothers reunited in Lee County they opened the Younker Dry Goods store on Main Street in Keokuk in 1856.

Eventually expanding with the iconic Younkers Brothers Department Store in the Walnut Street business district in downtown Des Moines in 1874, business continued to boom under shrewd management and progressive thinking. The brothers identified the need to hire female salespeople during 1881, and the innovative insight allowed sales to continue growing over the late 19th century.

Steady expansion followed, and the business was formally incorporated in 1904. By 1910, Younkers boasted a staff of over 500 and used increased capital to buy out regional competitors, including Brintnall’s (Marshalltown), Davidson’s (Sioux City), and Yetters (Iowa City). The little dry goods store started in Keokuk and expanded to include 28 stores in five Midwestern states by 1978. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


bottom of page