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Von's Shops History

Discover how Von's Shops has changed over the years

1967 - 1970
  • John and Sylvia von Erdmannsdorff come to Purdue for graduate school in physical chemistry and American literature, respectively.

  • In September of 1968, they start a "book store" in the dining room of their apartment. There are no open hours for the first month. Orders and book delivery were done via mailboxes.

  • October '68, Bookstore is now open to customers. The books expanded to the living room as well as records, art cards, and posters.

1970 - 1980
  • Moved to the upstairs of a duplex since the books filled the apartment

  • The first employee, Jim Martin, joined the store and is still the book manager

  • Moved to State Street (present bookstore location) - building shared with a copy shop. A year later, Von's took over the whole building and added the copy business.

  • Joined National Association of College Stores to be a test market store for Hewlett Packard calculators.

  • Purchased main building that now houses audio-video, cards, records, Harry's Chocolate shop (leases from Von's), and apartments on upper floors

  • Added computers, Lafayette's first color copier, boom boxes, and stereo systems.

  • Bought a restaurant and opened Von's Dough Shack

1980 - 1990
  • T-shirts and imported clothing expanded

  • Closed the restaurant and expand computers into that building.

  • Books on audio tape were added along with books in print on computer laser disk.

  • Published Indiana postcards and notecards (American GeoGraphics)

  • Computers expanded to building across the street.

1990 - 2000
  • Beads, stones, fossils, and Indian pottery added

  • Major expansion of beads to make former video space pay for itself as 70% of video business disappears following one-way street change.

  • Computer business sold to employees

  • Jewelry, comic books, candles, beads, stone bookends, and other mineral and fossil items were added in the mid '90s.

  • Photo processing is added at the city's lowest everyday prices.

2000 - 2010
  • Retail book selection increases as remodeling adds more room to squeeze in titles in the former book storage area. Books reach their maximum with every square inch of space used by 2001.

  • Large video selection with DVDs starting to be significant.

  • Anime selection is the largest in the state and natural stone bead selection is believed to be the largest in the US.

  • In 2005, a fire breaks out in the attic above the bead, cards, gifts, comics, and used book departments.

  • A year later, began reopening parts of departments closed due to water damage from fire.

  • Used books and stone beads expand a ton and people come from Indy and Chicago to shop.

  • The former restaurant building now features calzones and is run by Amber, the daughter of the original owners.

  • The Dough Shack was closed and is now a Jimmy Johns.

  • The main Von's Shops are still well-beloved by Purdue students and alumni alike

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