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If you’ve looked through any DeKalb County phone books, directories, or handbills published prior to 1975, you’ve probably come across an advertisement or two for Schaab’s, one of the longest-running businesses that existed in Auburn.
The store began in 1877 as a small company store for a local stave mill. Known as Schaab, Beugnot, and Co., the store sold dry goods, clothing, and groceries to the people of Auburn. In 1886, Charles and William Schaab bought out the store and operated it independently of the company. George E. Beugnot and Thomas H. Leasure joined them as partners in 1907, followed by a fifth partner—Donald Schaab—in 1914.
Schaab & Brother Company, Inc. was incorporated in 1923, with Charles as president. The store advertised widely—if you open up a local directory or handbill prior to the 1970s, it’s not uncommon to find one of their ads. According to John Martin Smith, they were known as “good buyers, and treated customers fairly.”
They also contributed to the county fair by donating premiums: in 1910, the first prize for the “Best Bushel of Bearded Wheat” was a men’s fur coat from Schaab Bros.
After Charles and William retired in 1941, Donald Schaab became the General Manager, acquiring all the stock in the corporation in 1951. The store, which was on the square, was renamed Schaab’s Department Store, and was operated by Donald until it closed 1975.
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