The Blair Story
It All Started with a Simple Black Raincoat
The year was 1910. Young John Blair, a law student at the University of Pennsylvania, was approached by a fellow student who had recently inherited a raincoat factory. Would he be interested in being a sales manager? Easter vacation and a train ride home to Warren was all the time John needed to make his decision.
With a suitcase of black raincoats in hand, he approached clothing store owners along his way. In one nearby town, he sold a lone coat to a customer - an undertaker. But the shop owner was reluctant to carry any more raincoats for just a few local undertakers.
John Blair was not about to give up. He decided the best way to reach the new market he had just created in his own mind - the market of undertakers who would certainly wear black raincoats - was by mail. So with just $500 borrowed capital, he printed and mailed flyers across the country. And he sold 1200 raincoats in no time! Thus, the New Process Company was created.
Over 100 years later, we've grown to offer exceptional clothing for women and men, plus quality items for your home. We've changed our name to simply, Blair. But we still proudly serve customers across the country. And we still maintain the high standards that John Blair built the company on so many years ago.
Blair is now a part of a larger group of companies known as Bluestem Brands that together can better serve shoppers like you with exceptional merchandise at value prices. Blair company headquarters are still located in the small town of Warren, Pennsylvania. That's where we design our fashions, plan our catalogs and operate our Web site. We're proud of our heritage and our employees, and we love serving our valued customers!
We invite you to shop our outstanding values anytime in our gorgeous full-color catalogs or online at Blair.com.
The Blair Communities
Blair's corporate headquarters are located in Warren, PA - the same town where we were founded in 1910. We've grown some since then and we now have a large population of home agents in the Erie, PA area. In each of these cities, family and community values are an integral part of the fabric of our associates' lives.
Community Quick Facts:
About 10,000 people live in Warren
More than 100,000 people live and work in Erie
Each of these communities boasts rich, deep histories with outstanding health, educational and cultural facilities and events. Our hometowns are wonderful places to work, live and raise families! And though each town is uniquely special, one natural resource has shaped our geography and our lifestyles-water! Warren is situated on the banks of the Allegheny River, and Erie sits right on the shore of Lake Erie. This close proximity to water, along with a rich abundance of other natural resources makes this region a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts.
Over 100 Years in the Making
Good people. Excellent values. Strong work ethic.
Friends and neighbors would have described the Blair family much like this in the early 1900s. They still would today.
John Edwin Blair, son of an Irish immigrant, settled in Warren, Pennsylvania, in the late 1800s to raise his family with his wife, Margaret. It was here that he established a successful grocery business, and he treated his customers well.
Son John L. Blair learned much from his father. So in 1910, when a fellow law student at the University of Pennsylvania approached him with a sales opportunity, young John was ready. His friend had just inherited a raincoat factory and hoped that John would become a sales manager for him. Easter vacation and a train ride home to Warren was all the time John needed to make his decision.
With a suitcase of raincoats in hand, he approached clothing store owners along his way. While in one of the shops, he ran into a local undertaker who was looking for a warmer wool coat that was waterproof. John didn't have any such product at the time, but he worked with his friend to create a new process of putting a layer of rubber in between layers of wool. The result: a unique new raincoat that undertakers across the nation would surely snap up in an instant!
And John knew that the best way to reach this new market was by mail. So with just $500 borrowed capital and the help of his brothers and sister, John typed addresses on envelope after envelope, singing the praises of this "new process" raincoat, a product which became known as the "Keep-Dry". And he sold 1200 raincoats in no time! Thus, the "New Process" Company was created.
It truly was a family company. John's father, brothers and sister worked with him from the very beginning to send advertising and fill orders. And every order was prized. In fact, the Blair family knew every customer by name.
Through the past 100 plus years, the company has certainly grown. The product line has evolved from decade to decade. We now offer apparel and accessories for women and men, quality items for your home, Improved Living items to help you from day to day, and so much more. We’ve changed our name to simply… Blair. But some things haven't changed, even after so much time. Our company headquarters are still located in Warren, Pennsylvania. We still maintain the high standards that John L. Blair built the company on so many years ago. And we still believe our customers are our absolute top priority every day.
It's because of customers like you that we are celebrating over 100 years of business. Thank you!
Video History of Blair
This video is currently shown at the Blair Museum; background music "Yukon River" used by permission of composser Rob Mathes)