Filed Under Business

Goldwater's Department Store

Goldwater's was a fine department store with several locations throughout the Phoenix Valley area from the mid-1890s to the mid-1960s when it was sold to Associated Dry Goods.

Michael Goldwater, whose original name was Michael Goldvasser, was born in Poland. He married Sarah Nathan in 1850, and they had eight children together. In 1852, Michael's family and his brother, Joseph "Little Joe" Goldwater, moved to the United States. The Goldwaters moved to Los Angeles in 1857 to operate a billiard parlor and dry goods store.

In 1860, Big Mike took a wagon of goods to Gila City, Arizona, a small mining town. While in Arizona, the Goldwaters opened a store in La Paz, Arizona, in 1862. The Goldwaters had a Los Angeles capitalist partner, Bernard Cohn, for the first store. They eventually bought out Cohn in 1867.

In 1872, the first Phoenix Goldwater store opened with Michael Goldwater's son, Morris managing it. The store suffered from low profits and closed in 1875. Again in 1879, Morris Goldwater opened a new store in Prescott, Arizona. With the success of the new store, Michael Goldwater retired in 1883. Michael's sons opened the famous Goldwater's Department Store of Phoenix in 1896. Eventually, the Goldwater's Department Stores were sold to Associated Dry Goods. The remaining branches of the stores are now Macy's.

The Goldwater family reclaimed the old store's logo in 1989 and opened a new food company called Goldwater's Foods. The new company is headed by Michael Goldwater's granddaughter, Carolyn Goldwater Ross.


Dorris-Heyman Furniture Store Goldwater's Department Store originally opened in Prescott, Arizona, but eventually opened alongside the Dorris-Heyman Furniture Store in downtown Phoenix. Source: "Dorris-Heyman Furniture Company Building," McCulloch Brothers Inc. Photographs, CP MCLMB A633. Arizona State University Libraries: Arizona Collection accessed December 8, 2016. Creator: McCulloch Brothers, Incorporated Date: November 9, 1939
Original Goldwater's Department Store in 1881 In 1881, this building served as the Goldwater store in Prescott, Arizona. It would later move to downtown Phoenix to be next to compete with the other prominent department stores of Korrick's and Diamond's. Source: "Original Goldwater's Department Store," Arizona Jewish Life accessed December 1, 2016. Creator: Ann Polunsky Date: ca. 1881
Goldwaters' Display An interior display of college student clothing at a Goldwater's Department Store. Source: "Goldwaters' Display," McCulloch Brothers Inc. Photographs, CP MCLMB A1840A. Arizona State University Libraries: Arizona Collection accessed December 8, 2016. Creator: McCulloch Brothers, Incorporated Date: June 19, 1944
Michael "Big Mike" Goldwater In 1860, Big Mike Goldwater traveled down to the mining town of Gila City in Arizona. He then opened his first store in La Paz, Arizona in 1862. It was not until 1872, that the first Phoenix Goldwater store was opened. Source: "Michael "Big Mike" Goldwater, " Jewish Museum of the American West December 6, 2016.
An Arizona Welcome Arizona Governor Jack Williams and Senators Barry Goldwater (Grandson of Michael "Big Mike" Goldwater, founder of Goldwater's Department Store) and Paul Fannin meet President Gerald Ford at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Source: "An Arizona Welcome," Official White House Photo, BMG-AMP134 December 11, 2016. Creator: Official White House Photo Date: ca. 1974
Goldwaters Department Store At Scottsdale Fashion Square. The Goldwater family opened a department store in downtown Phoenix prior to 1900. In 1950, they expanded to a small store on the northeast corner of Scottsdale Road and First Avenue. Goldwater's became the major anchor tenant at the new Scottsdale Fashion Square when it opened on the northwest corner of Scottsdale and Camelback Roads in the fall of 1961. By the 1990s, the Scottsdale Fashion Square location became a Robinson's department store (later Robinso's-May), then was completely renovated in 2008-09 to house new shops in the east end of Scottsdale Fashion Square. Source: Scottsdale Remembers: Scottsdale Historical Society, Goldwaters Department Store At Scottsdale Fashion Square accessed December 10, 2016.


31 North First Street Phoenix, Arizona 85004


Heather Roehl, “Goldwater's Department Store,” Salt River Stories, accessed October 1, 2023,