Finding aid to the Western Furniture Exchange and Merchandise Mart Records 1915-2008 SFH 475

Finding aid prepared by Katherine Ets-Hokin.
San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

Title: Western Furniture Exchange and Merchandise Mart Records
Date (bulk): 1922-2008
Identifier/Call Number: SFH 475
Creator: Western Furniture Exchange and Merchandise Mart (San Francisco, Calif.)
Creator: San Francisco Mart
Physical Description: 29 cartons, 27 bully boxes, 4 pamphlet boxes, 1 flat file. (39.5 Cubic Feet)
Contributing Institution: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 557-4567
Abstract: The Western Furniture Exchange and Merchandise Mart operated from its founding in 1915 until it closed in 2008. The Mart served as the largest hub for furniture wholesale on the West Coast and hosted sellers from all over the Western United States.
Physical Location: The collection is stored offsite.
Language of Material: English
Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is available for use during San Francisco History Center hours, with photographs available during Photo Desk hours. Collections that are stored offsite should be requested 48 hours in advance.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the City Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library as the owner of the physical items. All requests for permission to publish from photographs must be submitted in writing to the Photo Curator. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library as the owner of the physical items.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Western Furniture Exchange and Merchandise Mart Records (SFH 475), San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.


Donated by Manuel Perez of the Western Furniture Mart April 29, 2011.

Conservation Note

During processing, the entire collection was rehoused into acid free boxes and weeded for duplicate materials.

Administrative History

The Western Furniture Exchange and Merchandise Mart, or the San Francisco Furniture Mart as it was commonly called, operated from its founding in 1915 until its closing in 2008 when the bulk of western wholesale furniture markets concentrated in Las Vegas. At its apex the Mart operated as the largest hub for wholesale furniture on the West Coast and hosted sellers from all over the Western United States. It eventually grew to support seven markets under one roof with showrooms ranging from 400 to 1500 square feet. It sold items as varied as furniture, floor coverings, radio and television appliances, giftware, lamps, housewares, decorative textiles, linens, toys and juvenile goods. Semiannual and Friday marts operated on a membership basis with two market weeks a year, one in January and the second in July.
What would become known as the most recent Furniture Mart building was constructed in 1937 with floors added in 1948, 1957, and 1963. It continued to grow with new construction when Mart 2 opened next door in 1975. The Mart campus extended for an entire block of Market Street between 9th and 10th streets occupying 1.5 million square feet. Containing a barbershop, bank, post office, bar, restaurant, newsstand and radio station the Mart provided everything its customers needed.
Designed exclusively for wholesale business the Mart required buyers to maintain a membership and restricted the general public from showroom display areas. Membership required a place of business (other than a home), an established line of credit with three tenants (or firms) operating at the Mart, and recognition "as a stocking dealer" meaning one who stocked merchandise to sell to the public.
The Market Street campus is currently owned by Shorenstein Properties and has been occupied by Twitter Inc. since 2012.

Scope and Content

The Western Furniture Exchange and Merchandise Mart operated from its creation in 1915 until its closing in 2008. During its apex the Mart operated as the largest hub for furniture wholesale on the West Coast and hosted sellers from all over the Western United States.
The collection consists of publications produced by the Mart, scrapbooks assembled by date (scrapbooks contain ephemera and clippings relating to the Mart), and graphic materials including floor plans, photos, negatives, slides, sketches and a promotional video. Of note are the yearly Buyers Guide and Directories which list individual showrooms and wholesalers. The collection also includes a small amount of correspondence, a switchboard operator's phone directory and an embossing stamp with the SF Furniture Mart logo. The collection does not contain Mart organizational information, staff or business records. Instead the collection content focuses on the sellers who operated in the Mart.
Photos include portraits, early scenes including the Marts first location at 180 Montgomery Street (circa 1915), advertising, construction, earthquake (1906), events, exteriors, interiors, Mart 2 opening (1975), Mart fire (1970), Marts other than San Francisco, and publicity shots.


The collection is arranged in 6 series: Series 1: History, Series 2: Correspondence, Series 3: Publications/Promotion, Series 4: Scrapbooks, Clippings and Ephemera, Series 5: Graphic Materials, Series 6: Artifacts.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Furniture industry and trade--United States--Catalogs.
Furniture industry and trade--United States--Directories.
Furniture industry and trade--United States--History.
Wholesale trade -- California -- San Francisco -- Directories.
Buildings -- Merchandise Mart.


Series 1 History

box 1, folder 1

History of the Mart

Scope and Contents

Fact Sheets and published pamphlets/periodicals describing the history of the Mart.
box 1, folder 2

Showroom Leases 1954, 1958, 1967

box 1, folder 3

Switchboard Operators Personal Directory of Showrooms Circa 1960

box 1, folder 4

Worksheet Notebook, Public Relations Office 1968-1969


Series 2 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondence primarily relating to the running of the Mart and construction or expansion.
box 1, folder 5-7

1947, 1949, 1982


Series 3 Publications / Promotion

Scope and Contents

Publications produced and published by the San Francisco Furniture Mart.
box 1, folder 8-10

Design Lines 1984-2007

box 1, folder 11-12

Market Planner 1995-2004

box 1, folder 13-15

Market Recap 1995-2005

box 1, folder 16

Mart Talk 1995-2003

box 2, folder 1

Pocket Guides 1989-2004

box 2, folder 2

San Francisco Market Week News July, 1963

box 2, folder 3-15

Western Merchandiser 1949-1989


Western Furniture Exchange Buyer's Directory and Buyer's Guide 1922-2005

box 3, folder 1-22


box 4, folder 1-11


box 5, folder 1-16


box 6, folder 1-15


box 7, folder 1-16


box 2, folder 16

Western Reporter 1991-1992


Series 4 Scrapbooks, Clippings, and Ephemera

Scope and Contents

Scrapbooks contain brochures, flyers, newspaper and magazine clippings related to the Mart. Scrapbooks were compiled annually or seasonally. Binding style changed over time until eventually no binding was used at all. Scrapbooks and files are sorted chronologically within each box. Scrapbooks remain in original binding and loose materials are stored in files.

Scrapbooks 1932-1999

Scope and Contents

Scrapbooks remain in original binding and are arranged chronologically.
box 10


box 11


box 12


box 13


box 14


box 15


box 16


box 17


box 18


box 19


box 20


box 21


box 22


box 23


box 24


box 25


box 26


box 27


box 28


box 29


box 30


box 31


box 32


box 33


box 34


box 35


box 36


box 37


box 38


box 39


box 40


box 41


box 42


box 43


box 44


box 45


box 46


box 47

1983-1986, 1988-1999


Clippings, Brochures, Promotional Materials circa 1980-2008

Scope and Contents

Substance is similar to scrapbook contents, including clippings, brochures, pamplets and promotional materials.
box 8, folder 1-16


box 9, folder 1-32



Series 5 Graphic Materials

oversize-folder 1

Floor Plans Over-sized folder 1

Scope and Contents

Floor plans illustrating showroom locations and retailers.

Negatives circa 1915-circa 2000 1940s-1990s

Scope and Contents

Negatives match up loosly with the collection photographs.
box 49, folder 1

Events. Portraits

box 49, folder 2-3

Exteriors, Interiors, Advertising/Products Circa 1915-2010

box 49, folder 4

Events Circa 1990

box 49, folder 5

Portraits Circa 1990

box 49, folder 6

Portraits. Ivan & Mr. Rodgers Circa 1980

box 49, folder 7

San Francisco Chronicle 1921



box 7, folder 17

After Midnight Branding, Central Market Payroll, Civic Center Community Benefit District, Market Street Right Turn Study (CD-R) circa 1990


Photographs 1906-circa 2008

box 48, folder 1

Advertising 1960s, 1990s

box 48, folder 2

Construction 1936, 1946, 1960s, 1970s

box 48, folder 3

Earthquake 1906

box 48, folder 4-8

Events Circa 1960-Circa 1990

box 48, folder 9

Events. Winter Market 1991-1992

box 48, folder 10

Events. San Francisco Mart 1990

box 48, folder 11

Events. SF Mart Hawaiian Trade Show 1993

box 48, folder 12-13

Events. Summer Market 1989, 1992

box 48, folder 14

Events. Winter Market 1990

box 48, folder 15-16

Exteriors 1940s-1960s

box 48, folder 17-20

Interiors 1950s-1990

box 48, folder 21

Mart Fire 1970

box 48, folder 22-23

Mart 2 Circa 1980

box 48, folder 24

Old Mart Before 1940

box 48, folder 25

Other Markets, not San Francisco Mart 1950s

box 48, folder 26-27

Portraits. Groups Circa 1950-Circa 1990

box 48, folder 28

Portraits. Individuals Circa 1950-Circa 1990

Scope and Contents

Portraits include images of: Neil Forney (Bryant-Forney), Stanley Abercrombie ("Interior Design" magazine), Ted Balastreri (Restaurant Central), William Beebe (Pont de Nemours), E.L. Briggs Jr. (SFMA), William R. Bruener (John Bruener), Gary Drucher (Macys), Neil Forney (SEM.WM), John F. Lawhon (Author), Rick A. Richards (Richards Marketing), James E. Muldem (Brody Seating), Steven McLead (Mand Carpet Mill), Ron Martino (Martino Complete Home Furnishing), Robert R. Rogers, Paul Primrose & Lansing Brown (Ozite), George T. Rockrise, Robert Mitchill & Richard Bohrer (Carpet Mills), John G. Veneman (Assemblyman), Richard E. Whalley (Jackson Firm), T. G. Vaughan, Jr. (Vaughan Furniture), Milo Baughman (Milo Baughman Design), Joe LaCognata, Warner S. McDonell (Rembrendt Lambo), Ralph Levitz (Letvitz), W. Boggs (Berver Carpert), Kenneth L. Booth, Bill Richmond (Furtorian), Peter Penizotto (Marbetui), S. G. "Jerry" Nerland & John Richards (Vox), M. Wallace Rubin (Home Furnishings Council), Bruce Roberts (Eastman), Benno G. Rothschild (David Rothschild), William S. Richman (Stratford Company), Frank J. Vance (Bigelow-Sanford), John Fatzick (Occacinal), Laurie J. Reiners (Target Systems), David T. Floherty (Broyhill), Alan Fuikel (Suncraft of California), Peter B. Faust (Burwood), Joseph T. Frye & Joseph T. Frye Jr (Athens Bed), Bill Linsled (USSI), Dan R. Frank (Permaneer), Howard Olausky, Jim Cowen (Cowen & Lavelle), Robert A. McKenzie (Jropitone), D.J. "Joe" Dewsmond (Retailers Marketing Guild), Gordon J. Peplin, Donald W. Mitchell, & Joe B. Maffett (WestPoint Pepperell Carpet & Rug) Robert L. Ficks, Jr. (Bauirtter), Henry Foscue (Southern Furniture Exposition Building , Globe Furniture), Joseph Sinay (Interstate United, Josam), James Van Vleck (Stanley Firm), Bill Peterson (Furniture Today), Bill Cumbelich (Coldwell Banker), Leon Rosenthal (Sloane), Kenneth L. Booth (Ward Firm), Cliff Weitz (Bauman- Weitz), Fred Pedersen Jr (Pedersen's), "Senior O," Lindler, Sam Mortes (Calstrga), No Name (American Firm Association), C.E. "Cliff" Rice III (Basic-Witz), Lewis B. Miller (The United States Bedhifo), Schacter, Jack Redwood (Redwood Rasr), Ernest E. Warsaw (Sheffuld Chair), Robert Fogurty Jr. (Virtue), Harold A. Leed Jr (Moore Furniture), Peter Funston (Harris of Caez), F.E. "Mike" Masiwl (C. Lt. Masland & Sons), Mrs. Leekolker, Willian D' Elia (business development consultant), John Raeber (author), Paul E. Rumbaeyh (Prueble), Roger W. Fiarley (Stanler Furniture), Orvis Bryaur (Western Merchandiser)
box 48, folder 29

Portraits. Gennet, Michael (President) Circa 1980

box 48, folder 30

Portraits, Moore, Harry (President) Circa 1940

box 48, folder 31

Portraits. Preiser, Donald (President) Circa 1990

box 48, folder 32

Portraits. Rogers, Leonard (President) Circa 1980

box 48, folder 33

Portraits. Runyan, Frank (President) 1965

box 48, folder 34

Portraits. Unidentified Circa 1980-Circa 1990


Slides circa 1990-circa 2008

Scope and Contents

Slides include exteriors, merchandise, and events.
box 50, folder 1

Advertising Circa 1990

box 50, folder 2

Events Circa 1990

box 50, folder 3

Exteriors Circa 1990

box 50, folder 4

Merchandise Circa 1990

box 7, folder 17

Promotional Video circa 1990

Scope and Contents

Video contains discussion from Bruce Mosler (Chairman of the Board) and Jean Anderson Covarelli (Principal Purchasing Connection) discussing remodeling and rebranding, Art Gensler (Gensler & Associates Architects, and Ray Kennedy (ASID).

Series 6 Artifacts

box 7, folder 17

Logo Embossing Stamp circa 1990