In our archives, the CDPL Local History department has an undated, original book of rules from Bischof’s Big Store. Louis Bischof came to Crawfordsville at the age of 17 and opened up his first store in 1899. By 1907, the four-story business, located at the corner of Main and Green Streets, became Bischof’s Big Store. The landmark burned down in the early 1930s.
The book of rules includes regulations for department heads, ushers, inspectors, elevator conductors, and salespersons. What types of behavior did Mr. Bischof prohibit from his employees? The book includes typical business rules, but Bishof also asks that his employees avoid dancing in the aisles, reading or writing letters, wearing extravagant clothing, and loaning one another money.
Bischof advises, "Don’t chase customers, wait until they stop and show that they are interested in goods or some department, then approach them in a business-like manner."
Bischof requests that his "employees use the word 'Madame' instead of 'Lady' in addressing ladies who visit the store...the word 'Gent' should be avoided with reference to any merchandise in the store." Bischof also asks that the term “special” be used with care:
Department managers and others will guard closely the use of the word “special,” either in advertisement through the newspaper or on printed cards. It must mean exactly what it says in order to retain any strength as an expression.
Knowing that the Big Store is at the center of a busy downtown, Bischof urges his employees to be courteous to visitors:
We receive many visits from out of town people and the impression which is made up on them by a few moment’s interview with one of our employees remains forever in their minds. If the employee is courteous and polite, the impression is good; if short with answers or other than very attentive in actions, the impression is bad. We are particularly desirous that visitors from out of town be allowed to see that we understand how to do business correctly, and this effect can only be had when every employee treats every visitor with careful consideration.
Due to Bischof's attention to detail, training of employees, and courtesy to customers, the Big Store remains one of the most successful businesses in Crawfordsville's history.