Strawbridge & Clothier began as a small dry-goods store founded by Justus C. Strawbridge, an enterprising young Quaker from Mount Holly, in 1861 in a rented three-story building at Eighth and Market Streets.

Strawbridge developed a close friendship with Isaac H. Clothier, one of his cloth dealers from Philadelphia, and they decided to become partners. Strawbridge & Clothier opened July 1, 1868, and a five-story store replaced the old building. For a time, this store was the only place in Philadelphia where one could buy both domestic and European goods, all at reasonable prices, under one roof.

In 1930, despite the Depression, the business added a satellite location in Ardmore; it was the first time a local department store had branched out to a suburb. In the 1960s, Strawbridge & Clothier further diversified by opening a chain of discount stores under the name Clover.

Strawbridge & Clothier remained a family-run business until it was sold to the May Department Stores Co. in 1996. The Philadelphia store closed a decade later after operating for 138 years.