Herbst Department Store

Herbst Department Store.

Isaac Herbst, born in April 1858 at Cincinnati, Ohio, came to North Dakota in 1884. He was employed at the Eppinger Company in Bismarck and with A. M. Eppinger in Jamestown before coming to Fargo in 1887.

Mr. Herbst worked for the B. & I. Sternberg Store and the Yerxa Company in Fargo until 1889, when he went into partnership with Robert Adler, who supplied capital for the purchase of a bankrupt store's stock. The two opened "The Bankrupt Store" and in a period of about three months had sold out the complete stock.

In 1891, Mr. Herbst opened his own dry goods store at 66 Broadway, just north of the Citizens National Bank on the northwest corner of Broadway and N.P. Avenue. That store was lost in the great fire of June 1893.

Herbst built a new store at 56 Broadway by October. In February, 1894, another fire swept through. He was able to remodel, and the store soon became a thriving enterprise. About 1900 he moved to a larger space at 16 Broadway, and the name was changed to Herbst Department Store.

Herbst Department store.

Isaac Herbst met and married Emma Krohn in Fargo in 1893. She was born Sept. 13, 1867 at Freeport, Illinois, the daughter of Jacob and Dora (Fleishman) Krohn. The couple had two sons, J. Krohn (Dec. 10, 1893-Nov. 28, 1934) and Robert K. (Aug. 17, 1903-Nov. 28, 1981).

After her husband's death on June 21, 1910, Mrs. Herbst took over and became president of the store. She played a direct role in the growth and success of the store, and also instituted the Herbst Social and Benefit Club for employees in 1920. Mrs. Herbst stepped down when her eldest son J. Krohn Herbst became president in 1918, but continued on as vice-president. She died June 10, 1925. J. Krohn served as president until his sudden death after an appendix operation Nov. 28, 1934. Upon his death his younger brother Robert K. Herbst served as president. Robert K. Herbst married Frances Burton in 1926 and they had three sons: Robert, Michael, and Richard K. After their father retired, the three sons took joint control of the store and continued its expansion. In 1958, Herbst Department Store purchased the adjacent Luger Furniture Company and in 1966, the adjacent Edwards Building.

In the early 1970s, branch stores were opened in Bismarck, Devils Lake and Jamestown, and at West Acres Shopping Center in Fargo. Once again the Broadway store was hit by fire in January 1974. It went out of business in February 1982.

The records of the store are available at the Institute for Regional Studies Archives. The finding aid can be viewed at:

Fargo and Moorhead City Directory. Fargo, 1881-1927.
Polk’s Fargo and Moorhead City Directories. St. Paul, MN: R.L. Polk and Company