Stein Mart is a chain of discount department stores selling women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing as well as shoes, fragrances, jewelry, bed and bath linens, home accessories, and gifts. The company, which began in Greenville, Mississippi, caters to an upscale clientele by stocking brand-name merchandise and boutique goods and emphasizing customer service and vendor relationships.
In 1908 Russian immigrant Sam Stein opened the Greenville store bearing his name. At his retirement, Stein turned over the business to his son, Jake, who incorporated it in Mississippi in 1968. The company’s transition from a local department store began in the late 1970s when Jay Stein succeeded his father, Jake, as chief executive officer. In 1977 Stein Mart opened a store in Memphis and redirected its focus from that of a discount department store to a fashion store.
The company continued to expand, and a third Stein Mart store opened in Nashville in 1980. That year, Jay Stein hired Jack Williams as executive vice president and charged him with helping the chain to grow beyond its regional market. Throughout the early 1980s, Stein Mart continued to grow, opening its first store in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1983 and moving the corporate headquarters there the following year.
By 1992 the company operated forty-five stores, and it incorporated in Florida and became a publicly traded company, listed on the NASDAQ. At the turn of the twenty-first century, the chain had more than two hundred stores in twenty-nine states. In August 2001 Jay Stein retired as chief executive officer; his successor, Williams, became the first head of the company who was not a member of the Stein family, though Jay Stein remained the largest stockholder and chair of the board. In March 2015 Dawn H. Robertson became chief executive officer.
In 2016 the company operated 278 stores in thirty states as well as an Internet store and employed about eleven thousand people.
- Mark Basch, Florida Times-Union (22 July 2002)
- David J. Ginzl, Stein Mart: An American Story of Roots, Family, and Building a Greater Dream (2014)
- Don Hogsett, Home Textiles Today (10 June 2002)
- Stein Mart 2015 Annual Report. http://ir.steinmart.com/