The Knauer store started in Gallatin in 1866 when Andrew Knauer established a merchant-tailor business. The business thrived. Whenever a person saw the Knauer label on a piece of clothing, they knew it had a quality that would last. The Knauer name was familiar to nearly every household in Daviess County.
The store started on the east side of the Gallatin square and relocated several times. In 1916 it was written that Andrew Knauer “engaged in the merchant tailoring shop in the old building where the I.O.O.F. Building now stands,” and one year later moved to the building which “stood at that time just south of the First National Bank. Two years later, he bought the old frame building that stood where the Murry Drug Co., building now stands.” And, in 1887, a 2-story building was erected.
The first Knauer store was very simple with only a floor space of 22×90 feet. Not much is said about the tailor business itself, except that Knauer products were of suburb quality.
The store had many sales at various times, but had a very special 9-day sale commencing on May 25, 1916, for the business’s 50th anniversary. A $15 reward was offered to the customer who registered after coming from the greatest distance and buying a suit for $15 or more. Knauer gave this winner a choice of a $15 clothcraft suit or $15 in gold. They also refunded all customers 10% off the amount of purchase of 50 cents or more.
In 1917 a shoe department was added. Shoes were displayed in a plate glass show window.
In 1920 Knauer announced in an advertisement that the business of 54 years would be closed so that he could take up other interests. He offered 20% to 30% off until all the clothing and furnishings were either sold or the business was purchased by another.
Newspaper accounts then go void concerning the Knauer store until 1927. The store was robbed for the third time in a 3-year period. During this robbery thieves entered through a basement window and started rummaging through and grabbing items off shelves. Two suitcases were opened and left setting on the counter …perhaps evidence of a quick departure. Both men’s and women’s clothing had been taken, at an estimated value of $250. There was no insurance to cover this loss. It was speculated that the crime was done by someone familiar with the store and area.
Another sale event attracted hundreds of people from miles around Gallatin in 1928. People who hadn’t visited the community in years joined Gallatin residents in attending the event. Prices were so low — 30, 40 or 50 cents on the dollar — that people made purchases even on unneeded items, to store them until they were needed. The big sale was conducted so that merchandise would be gone when interior improvements to the building were to be done.
Little else can be gleaned from local newspapers about A. Knauer & Son
— written by Wlibur Bush