This week, we mark the 178th birthday of a man who came to New York as a young German immigrant.
At the tender age of 20, Mr. Hammacher invested $5,000 (equal to about $150,000 today – records do not show how he came into this money) in a thriving hardware store owned by Charles Tollner. The store was known as a source for hard-to-find tools, paving the way for a policy we have today of providing The Only, unique gifts exclusive to Hammacher Schlemmer.
Hammacher’s investment allowed the store to continue to grow, expanding into a larger location and honing its reputation for high quality. Today, the independent Hammacher Schlemmer Institute continues this quality reputation, objectively testing to determine items that are The Best, truly superior in their product category.
By 1867, Tollner had left the business and Mr. Hammacher took on as a partner a long-time employee of the store: William Schlemmer. Together, they continued to grow the business and embrace innovation. Taking advantage of new technology of the time, the Hammacher Schlemmer showroom was among the first businesses to install electric lights. Back in the day, lighting may have been unexpected by many customers. Today’s Hammacher Schlemmer customers delight in finding The Unexpected unique gift items, a selection that is continuously updated.
In 1899, Mr. Hammacher left the business and returned to Germany to live for the remainder of his life, passing away on January 12, 1912. But his name and the legacy he created of The Best, The Only and The Unexpected live on.