While many people recognize the name Elizabeth Quinlan because of her public role and decades of leadership at the Young-Quinlan Company, few know about Fred Young.
Frederick Dean Young was born in Freeport, Illinois in 1862. By the time he was thirty years old, Young was living in Minneapolis with is mother and brother and one of the top salespeople at Goodfellow and Eastman Dry Goods. It was there that he met Elizabeth Quinlan. Young and Quinlan became good friends and he convinced her to join him in opening their own specialty shop for women. Quinlan agreed to join Fred D. Young and Company as a buyer and salesperson for three months. If it didn’t work out, she would return to her job at Goodfellow and Eastman.
Young opened his first store in a subleased corner of Vrooman’s Glove Company in the Syndicate Building. And of course, the business worked out. Young handled the business administration and advertising for the store, while Quinlan did the buying and selling. Quinlan saved her money and was able to buy an equal partnership with Young in the early 1900s. In 1903, Young recognized the “value of [Quinlan’s] name in connection with a store devoted exclusively to fashion to women,” which led him to change the name of the store to the Young-Quinlan Company.
Within a year of the name change, Young was forced to retire due to medical issues. He spent several years traveling around the country, and later overseas, in search of a cure for his illness. He returned to his home at 2316 Colfax Avenue S in Minneapolis in 1909 when his health had deteriorated to the point where he was unable to travel. He died at his home on December 3, 1911. He was buried alongside his parents and six siblings at the Freeport City Cemetery in Illinois.
Following Young’s retirement, Quinlan took on his responsibilities as well as her own. After the death of her close friend, Quinlan suffered a nervous collapse and deserted the store for several months. Her nephews and dedicated employees stepped up to run the store in her absence. She returned from her hiatus with a renewed spirit for the store that she and Young had built together. Quinlan purchased Young’s shares in the company and became the sole owner of the Young-Quinlan company. To honor her friend, Quinlan vowed never to change the name of the company or take Young’s name off of the door.
The Story of Y-Q. Young-Quinlan Company. 1926.