The History of Wilson's Department Store
Wilson’s has been at home on the corner of Main and Davis Streets, in the heart of downtown Greenfield, for more than 130 years. In the beginning, Wilson’s was known as The Boston Store. It was owned and operated by the White Brothers from 1882 to 1896. Its original frontage was only 25 feet, but it thrived and doubled in size.
In 1896 John Wilson, from Scotland, bought the store from the Whites and renamed it the John Wilson Company. He enlarged the store by adding a second floor, a grand double staircase in the center, and a grocery department on the lower level. The new store even had a horse-drawn delivery service, with a livery stable on the premises.
In 1929, R. Stanley Reid of the former Boston Store in North Adams and George L. Willis of the then Wallace Company in Pittsfield together purchased the John Wilson Company store from the Wilson family. The Reid family owned the business after Mr. Willis’s death in 1941. Robert S. Reid, Jr. served as President of Wilson’s from the time of his father’s death in 1961 until his retirement in 1990. During his tenure he expanded the second floor and added a third floor into space once occupied by the Greenfield Hotel. More expansion of the second and third floors took place in 1974.
Kevin J. O’Neil, son-in-law of Mr. Reid, joined the family business in 1981. He was elected President of Wilson’s, Inc. in 1990. He installed the first computer system and has overseen many interior remodeling projects.
The goal of all of the owners has been to build an outstanding department store with a strong commitment to downtown Greenfield. Wilson’s has an image built over time by the people who have worked here. We welcome our customers as the nicest people in the world who are now guests in our home, and we treat them accordingly.