Happiness & Long Life for All its Residents #66

Becky Weiser

Wednesday Sep 8th, 2021

The title of this blog is a perfect description for this Erie store because it has brought much happiness to generations of Erie residents.  It has been in business for 135 years and still serves the community with a smile.  Its tag line is “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it”.  Can you guess which store I am writing about?

Here are some hints:  the owner ran a “saloon” at the same address before it became a store with a liquor license granted in 1886; in 1890 a very large brick building was built taking up a whole block which still stands; the owner was born in Germany and moved to Erie with his family when he was three years old, and the store has a German name.

I am sure you may have a guess by now - - - if not, this photo will help.

Kraus Department Store

Kraus Department Store, located between East 8th and East 9th Streets on Parade was established by Edward Kraus.  Born in 1845, he learned the painter’s trade then sold meats and was in the restaurant business for 15 years according to Nelson’s Biography.  A liquor license was sold to Edward in 1886 and he began a “saloon” or what we would normally call a bar today.

Edward Kraus Advertisement
This ad is from an 1888 Directory of Erie businesses.

In 1889, a burglar stole over $200 from Mr. Kraus.  The Erie Daily Times wrote that the Kraus family lived behind the saloon and the cash from the business Saturday nights was always kept in a locked drawer with the key for the drawer kept in a different drawer.  I found no reports of the stolen money ever being recovered.

In 1890, Mr. Kraus built the large building, which still stands, for a price tag of $5,000 ($150,000 in today’s dollars).  He changed his business model from that of alcohol and smokes to dealing in sewing notions, china, glass, crockery, gentlemen’s furnishings, fishing tackle, hats and caps for women and children, and toys.  What an assortment! 

Underwear Advertisement
February 27, 1892, ad in the Erie Daily Times

1890 was great as the business grew in the new building.  Unfortunately, Mr. Kraus was involved in an accident that same year.  The water level was being checked in a gas well on the property and he lit his pipe about 10 feet away.  The resulting explosion badly burned Kraus’ head, face, and hands.

Edward Kraus was married to Lizzie Huster and together had 10 children.  Edward lived until 1912 and the business has never left the family. Today, third, fourth and even fifth generations of Kraus family members are owners and employees of the store.  For a more complete timeline of Kraus store history, look up 

That reminds me, I have a lamp with a switch that doesn’t work properly anymore.  I take all my lamps to Kraus’ for repairs and shades.  Maybe I will see you there!