Edward A. Filene – Business Bio Summary

July 24, 2018 106 views

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Edward Filene

Filene’s was founded and created by Edward Filene’s father. But when this business leader took over, groundbreaking changes occurred that turned not only the financial income of the store but shook the whole retail business industry as well.

In 1912, in the week when the new and huge Filene Boston store opened, 715,000 people trooped in and shopped, prompting a dramatic increase in sales from $4.8 million to $8.5 million. So how did Edward Filene do it?

Business Leader Edward Filene – A Man Ahead of His Time

Edward Filene, unlike other business leaders, did not need to undergo the painful process of starting his own business from scratch. Filene – the shop – was already there. But what was remarkable during Edward Filene’s takeover is that he injected capital into the business, not in financial form, but through new and pioneering ideas that are still being practiced in retail business today.

Some of Edward Filene’s ideas were the following:
  • Bargain basements. These are areas in shops where lower priced items are being sold. Up to now, the application of this Filene idea can still be seen on malls and retail stores everywhere.
  • Filene also created the money back, if not satisfied guarantee. Again, a tactic that many business outfits have adapted.

Aside from these, Edward Filene promoted good labor policies in the workplace. In his shops, he instituted the following:

  • Minimum wage
  • 40-hour work week
  • Saturday closings of Filene shops during summer
  • Recognition of winter vacations
  • Medical insurance for workers
  • Profit sharing plans and
  • The Filene Employees Credit Union which was made a national prototype.

Indeed, many agree that the ideas and concepts that Edward Filene had and pushed for are considered extraordinary and well-ahead of his generation. Aside from this, one would learn from Filene that financial wizardry is not only the thing that makes a business become a success. Employees should be treated right and innovativeness should be a priority.

The Edward Filene Quick Bio

Full Name: Edward A. Filene

Date of Birth: 1860

Birth Place: Salem, Massachusetts

Company: Filene’s/ Macy’s

Industry: Retail

Key success traits: innovative, thinker, a man ahead of his time, humanitarian, sensitive employer, visionary, a man of action


In 1907, while Filene was traveling in small villages in India, he learned (and was convinced) about the importance of financial cooperatives. He brought home this concept with him and created the first credit union in America – the St. Mary’s Bank Credit Union in 1908.

Through his years, Edward Filene donated more than $1 million to support the creation of credit unions all over the US. As of today, there are nine thousand strong national credit unions in the country, serving three-fourths of the 100 million people worldwide who borrow from them.