Harmon’s in the Marks Building, 1921-1964

then and now image

The 1916 image of the Snohomish River covered in snow, published last month, was taken from the roof of the Marks Building, which I understood was Harmon’s Department Store at the time — a Snohomish institution that I wanted to know more about.

Coming across an ad in a 1923 issue of the Snohomish County Tribune, I learned that Raymond Harmon did not move his operation to the Marks Building until 1921. The family history of the store, as reported in a 1973 issue of the Tribune, places the move in 1914 or 15 — a continuation of a family fabrication of convenience.

Raymond Harmon
L. Raymond Harmon, c. 1920s,
Raymond Harmon and his wife arrived in Snohomish in 1913 from Wisconsin with the plan of continuing his trade as a mercantile merchant. He took a storefront space in the recently completed Eagles Hall (801-807 First) “where he sold out his stock by 3 o’clock in the afternoon on the first day of business,” so goes the family lore.

He called the store “Harmon’s Specialty Shop,” and the ads offered corsets at “… new lower prices,” along with “Perfect Fitting Union Suits — Ask for Munsingwear, never say underwear.” The name seems to have been shortened to “Harmon’s” shortly after the move to the Marks Building and Raymond’s sister, Jessie Hauff, joined the business as a partner. The store layout famously featured a ramp that divided women’s apparel on one side and clothing for gents on the other. I am wondering if any readers remember the wooden rocking horse that children could ride down the ramp? Sounds dangerous.

Raymond died in 1945, a short six months after his son-in-law Harold Harkins began working at the store. Walt Canfield, who worked at Harmon’s for 38 years, helped Harold learn the business, along with Raymond’s widow Grace.

Harold’s success can be measured by the move in 1964 to a larger facility in the old Safeway Store at 611 Second Street, current home of the Senior Center’s Thrift Shop. The business remained at this location until it closed the doors for the last time in October 1989 — the same month that Raymond moved his operation to the Marks Building 68 years earlier.

So what business was in the Marks Building in 1916? An ad in the very issue of the Snohomish County Tribune that reported the record snowfall was placed by the Herron-Sitton Company with copy that read: “Alligator Coats and Pants Will Keep You Dry.”


Follow this link to read more about the images of the Marks Building and the 1916 snowstorm.

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, February 20, 2013

7 thoughts on “Harmon’s in the Marks Building, 1921-1964”

  1. From Dave Kosche via email:

    I grew up in Snohomish from age 4 through 22 (1942 – 1960) and
    shopped at Harmon’s during that time and beyond. I question whether
    “Harold” was Raymond Harmon’s son as his name was Harold Harkinson
    (not sure of the spelling). Stepson perhaps? Harold and Walt Canfield
    waited on me often.

    My grandfather moved to Snohomish from Chicago in 1903 and could
    probably answer my question but he is no longer with us.

    I enjoy your writings about old Snohomish and am currently reading
    your book, Early Snohomish.


    Thanks Dave for your kind note. My understanding is that Harold married into the Harmon family.


  2. Harold Harkins was my grandfather, my dad is Jim, who took over the store when Harold retired. Harold was Raymond’s son in law, he married Raymond’s daughter Margaret. The store kept the Harmon’s name even though our name was Harkins.

  3. I do remember the wooden rocking horse by the window and kids riding it down that slope between the mens and women’s dept.’s. My mother worked for Harmon’s but not until the store moved to 2nd. She worked there until the store closed. She loved working for Harold and Jim and were happy times.

  4. I lived in Snohomish until ’68 when my family moved to Seattle. My mom taught at Fobes School. I’m enjoying all of this history so much.

  5. via email from Nanette Allen:

    “I was delighted to see your story of Harmon’s store. I grew up in Snohomish, Levi Raymond Harmon was my grandfather. He died when I was 4 1/2, but I remember him clearly. He was a gentle, smart, good man. My grandma Grace Harmon lived many years after, and did all of the tailoring of men’s suits on her treadle sewing machine. Grandpa Harmon, and later my Grandma, generally had floats in the Kla Ha Ya Days parade, and I generally sat on a car fender that was decorated. The parade was great, I just didn’t like having to be on the float!

    Thank you for these lovely memories!”

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