As a store, G. Fox & Co. thrived for well over a century and outlasted all other department stores in downtown Hartford. Part of the reason for its enduring success has to do with Gerson Fox’s business philosophy, expressed best in his motto: “Honesty, Courtesy, Service.” This philosophy, and the principles it shaped, determined the way in which business was conducted by all members of the store’s team, from the president to the part-time employee.
It was this business philosophy, and the family’s unwavering devotion to it, that really set Fox’s apart from other stores. All store policies stemmed from this simple motto; the most enduring and memorable of which are the following four principles:
- The customer is always right!
- We will not knowingly be undersold!
- If Fox’s says so, it must be so!
- If you can get it anywhere, you can get it at Fox’s!
There are many anecdotes from customers and employees alike that attest to the fact that these sentences were more than mere words; they were a way of doing business. According to an article in the Hartford Courant on April 17, 1927, honoring the store’s 80th anniversary, G. Fox & Co. is “firmly entrenched in the hearts of thousands as the home of honesty, courtesy, and service. And this trinity, which breeds success in any enterprise, were the materials from which Gerson Fox fashioned the cornerstone of his career.”
The unique nature of G. Fox & Co. as a store is evident from many of the business records in this collection. The item that stands out most in my mind as a testament to Gerson’s motto of “Honesty, Courtesy, Service” is Beatrice Fox Auerbach’s letter to her employees after the sale of the store to May Company. She is not only forthcoming about the situation, but confident that the change in ownership would not impact the level of service for which Fox’s was so fondly known. While those dearly-held ideals did seem to die with Beatrice Fox Auerbach as the May Co. made ever-increasing changes to the department store, the Fox way of honesty, courtesy, and service continue to be remembered with affection, and a hint of nostalgia, as a testament to an age in retail that has long since passed.