Window shows of jewels and fine apparel weren’t the only enticements that lured convert-of-the-20th-century purchasers to a strip of shops on the grounds of Henry Flagler’s first Palm Seaside resort.
A huge question mark did the trick, also.
It was painted on a marquee about the entrance to a sought-right after enterprise, beckoning passersby to come in and request about everything at all.
Unlike its quick retail neighbors flanking Flagler’s Resort Royal Poinciana — including a pharmacy, a men’s outfits shop and a jewellery store — its customers were assisted by gals.
Adult males may perhaps have operate the exhibit at most companies back again then, but ladies led Palm Seaside and other areas of Inquire Mr. Foster, a vacation company and souvenir store with a issue mark as its symbol.
“We under no circumstances open an office until we have a qualified woman to just take care of it,” Request Mr. Foster founder Ward G. Foster when defined in the early 1900s. “We tried using adult males initially, but they are not up to it. The get the job done calls for a peculiar character. It is not only the info that is presented it is the way it’s presented. I discover that women of all ages are courteous, fascinated, individual, conscientious and, previously mentioned all, enthusiastic in helping persons.”
Prior to coming into the vacation field, Foster started a ebook, stationery and reward/souvenir store in 1888 in St. Augustine, throughout the road from Flagler’s 1st Florida resort, the Ponce de Leon. Together with selling guides and keepsakes at the store, he gave out practice and steamship schedules and supplied information about spot points of interest.
Prior to extended, as St. Augustine lore has it, locals and lodge clerks encouraged any puzzled Northern visitors with inquiries to “Ask Mr. Foster.”
So the oracle himself resolved to capitalize on that and founded an Ask Mr. Foster vacation agency, partnering with Charles B. Reynolds, then proprietor of the prosperous Common Guideline travel guides and bureaus.
As Flagler prolonged his Florida railroad farther south in Florida and opened up extra lodges alongside the state’s east coast, Foster followed to expand his personal small business.
In Palm Beach, he inevitably boasted a next site of Ask Mr. Foster at Flagler’s other island hotel (renamed The Breakers in 1901), but the very first at the 1894-constructed Royal Poinciana was pivotal in the early progress of what would mushroom into dozens of Inquire Mr. Foster places of work.
In early 20th-century photographs taken in Palm Beach front, Foster is viewed at simplicity or possessing exciting with other distinguished businesspeople of the working day. They included homeopathic drugs male and Palm Beach landowner James Munroe Munyon, who founded a now-very long-absent hotel on nearby Munyon’s Island, and Emile D. Anthony, a chief in his family’s haberdashery business enterprise (Anthony’s is now a women’s clothing store).
Foster, who traveled thoroughly, visited each spot he suggested and explained so in his adverts. But guests to his journey agencies and stores who expected to see Mr. Foster much more than probably didn’t.
“Mr. Foster happened to be a female,” early 20th-century journalist and fiction author Ring Lardner wrote in a satirical limited story based mostly on a 1916 trip he took to Palm Seaside.
Of the experienced women of all ages who worked for him, Foster mentioned, “Our girls give careful consideration to each and every sincere query, no make a difference how stupid or tiresome it could be.”
By 1925, Foster’s agency integrated 50-plus workplaces in the country. Reported to get paid most of their revenues from advertisements and commissions from accommodations and transportation products and services, they answered many inquiries about anything from travel to where by to get a marriage license.
Foster offered his travel company a handful of many years right before he died in 1940 in his Coral Gables winter season household. In afterwards many years, Talk to Mr. Foster would expand and bear name and other ownership adjustments. Currently, it is portion of the world Carlson Wagonlit Travel organization, regarded as CWT.
This report initially appeared on Palm Beach Every day News: Women have been leaders of the shop’s locations