Joseph Glik’s Legacy Lives On in More Than a Retail Company
Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part series on Joseph Glik and the two city parks named after him.
For Glik’s Ltd. founder, Joseph Glik, giving back to the communities that supported him, his family and his retail stores was paramount. One of his great-great-grandsons is James Glik, whose father is also called Joseph.
“My great-grandfather told us and taught us to give back to the communities that supported us,” Glik said. This idea spread among the descendants of Joseph elder, Morris and Joseph, the father of James. James said his father loved Edwardsville as a community and was close to former mayor Gary Niebur.
“I didn’t know Mr. Glik badly,” Edwardsville Alderman Jack Burns said. “He and my dad knew each other because they were both in business in Granite City. I remember shopping with my mom at their store in Madison when I was very young. He was highly respected and had a reputation as a good and generous person.
Although he is only 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds, young Joseph Glik played soccer and football at the University of Washington. Jim said his father was also an avid outdoorsman; he liked to fish. He attended the same elementary school, Country Day High School and Washington University as William C. Danforth. Young Joseph Glik died in 2018.
The first Glik store dates back to 1897, when great-great-grandfather Joseph Glik went from selling clothes and dry goods from a horse-drawn wagon to opening a thriving men’s clothing store in downtown St. Louis. He opened a second store in Madison, Illinois, a 10,000 square foot department store, followed by stores in Granite City, Alton and then Edwardsville. The Highland location was the number eight store in Illinois. Additionally, Glik had two locations in St. Louis – at Westport Plaza and Jamestown Mall. Glik is one of the oldest names in American retail.
“Our first Edwardsville store was on Troy Road in an old grocery store,” said Jim Glik. It was located in the Montclaire neighborhood, south of the current Edwardsville store, which has undergone at least one expansion since opening in the Park Plaza shopping area.
Jim Glik said the company is recouping all profits from Edwardsville’s 10-cent bag fee, imposed last summer, and donating the money to Joe Glik Park. In 2021, that was around $400. He expects that amount to increase this year after a full year of fundraising.
The Granite City location also housed the offices of Jeff and Jim Glik. Jeff is CEO, President and Head of Women’s Merchandising; his younger brother Jim is vice president and responsible for men’s, children’s and footwear merchandising. Both worked in this makeshift headquarters for more than 30 years.
“We just kept changing and moving and making things work,” Jim said. “It wasn’t the most beautiful environment. It had no windows. We finally reached the maximum of our space.
A distinction has been made to reduce confusion – the Edwardsville location is known as Joe Glik Park while Highland’s park is simply called Glik Park.