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Lion Store

I remember going to Lion Store at Southwyck Mall as a kid to do back to school shopping. My mom loved Moonlight Madness. I’m sure I sat on the Lion statues with my siblings each time we visited.

Lion Store was a Toledo tradition. The store opened their first location downtown in 1857 by Frederick K. Eaton and his nephew, John Eaton, Jr. Originally named Frederick Eaton & Co., the store changed it’s named again in 1885 to Fischer, Eaton & Co. before officially becoming Lion Store in 1890. In time Lion Store expanded throughout Toledo with locations at Southwyck, Westgate, North Towne, and Franklin and opened in Fremont and Bowling Green, as well.

In doing research for the Lion Store shirt, my favorite recurring topic was the lion statues. There were photos of employees and children sitting on it, the history of it being placed in front of the downtown store before it was officially named Lion Store, the trouble Dillard’s had in removing them because they weighed so much, and, my personal favorite, a story of one being stolen.

From the Toledo Blade, May 5, 1955:

After a mysterious visit to a University of Michigan fraternity house, a cast-iron lion was to be returned today to its curbside stand in front of the Lion Store on Summit St.

Somehow, the 1,500-pound lion, which disappeared Tuesday night, turned up yesterday in the living room of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house in Ann Arbor.

No one could have been more dismayed than the SAE brothers when they discovered it there, a spokesman indicated this morning. They had no idea how it got there, he said, and already have promised to get it back to its Lion Store pedestal “very shortly.”

To Toledoans the cast-iron animal has been a landmark for almost a century, but to the Ann Arbor fraternity it was, in the words of the spokesman, strictly “a hot potato.” They have had lion troubles before.

Two years ago the SAE chapter at the University of Toledo received a papier mache replica of the Summit St. lions as a gift from the Lion Store. Since then, the TU and Michigan chapters have made it the object of an occasional lark, taking it from one another in nocturnal raids.

Last November, 16 of the TU brothers were on their way one night to Ann Arbor to “heist” the lion, when a service station man heard them talking about their plans. He thought it sounded like something serious, and notified Michigan state police.

The adminstrations of both TU and the University of Michigan were somewhat miffed over that incident, and the fraternity got quite a scolding. Today, the presidents of both chapters said they had not the slightest idea of how the theft from Summit St. happened.

“I’m sure nobody around here took it,” said Robert Kellogg, president of the TU chapter.

“I don’t know how it go in our house. We’re going to return it very shortly,” said the spokesman at Ann Arbor, who chose to remain nameless but sounded genuinely distressed.

What’s your favorite Lion Store memory?

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