Who the Heck Was the Young in Young-Quinlan?

Fred D. Young

Fred D. Young

Many people recognize the name Elizabeth Quinlan because of her public role and decades of leadership at the Young-Quinlan Department Store in Minneapolis. But who the heck was the Young in Young-Quinlan?

Frederick Dean Young was born in Freeport, Illinois in 1862. By the time he was thirty years old, Young was living in Minneapolis and had become 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 often competed for the title of the top salesperson.

Young dreamed of opening his own specialty shop for women that would sell hats, gloves, stockings, and more to the well-heeled residents of Minneapolis. He was convinced it would be a success if he could get Quinlan to join him in the venture, but Quinlan was apprehensive about leaving her position at Goodfellow and Eastman. Young eventually convinced his friend to try.

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 put up the capital to open their 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 from Fred D. Young and Company to the Young-Quinlan Company.

Within a year of the name change, Young was forced to retire due to chronic medical issues. Quinlan took on his responsibilities as well as her own with the hope that Young would recover and come back to the store. He spent a good deal of money traveling around the country, and later overseas, in search of a cure for his illness to no avail.

When Young finally returned to his home at 2316 Colfax Avenue S in 1909, his health had deteriorated to the point he was unable to leave home. He died on December 3, 1911.

After the death of her dear friend, Quinlan suffered a nervous collapse and deserted the store for several months. Her nephews and dedicated employees stepped up to run the store while she mourned. Quinlan returned from her hiatus with a renewed spirit and the determination to continue building on the success of the store to honor what she and Young had made together.

Quinlan purchased Young’s shares in the company from his estate 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 the door.