Levines, Tyler's oldest downtown department store, is closing

Published on Thursday, 26 June 2014 16:22 - Written by

By CASEY MURPHY, cmurphy@tylerpaper.com

Tyler’s oldest downtown department store is closing.

Store closing signs can be seen plastered on the store’s windows.

The decision to close Levines on Spring Avenue was made by its parent company, PLDT Partnership, which has struggled financially for the last two years, Norman Prothro, co-owner of Levines, said.

“The closing date is unknown at this time,” he said, adding that all of the inventory will be sold before the doors are closed for good.

The local store has seven employees, he said.

Levines was started by brothers Morris and William Levine in 1920 in Iowa Park and quickly began expanding throughout North Texas. In the 1950s, Levines continued expanding into Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico and moved its headquarters to Dallas. At its peak, there were 152 Levines stores in 11 states, Prothro said during a 2011 interview.

In 1966, the business was acquired with several others by Zale Corp. until it was sold for liquidation in 1977. The first Levines in Tyler opened in the early 1970s on Troup Highway and was located there for four years until the stores were liquidated, Prothro said.

Prothro became involved with Levines in 1960 and along with other employees, bought a few of the stores after the liquidation and kept the name. They also acquired some of the K. Wolens department stores, including the one located in downtown Tyler, in 1985 and turned it into Levines.

Prothro, who owns Levines with Don Dismore, said in 2011 there were 13 Levines stores in Texas now, including in Lubbock, Amarillo and the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Today, he said the company is down to Tyler’s Levines and two additional stores.

"We have enjoyed a long-term success with loyal customers," he said in 2011.