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Capin family business records, 1895-1995

SJA 005

Collection Summary

Creator: Capin family
Collection Name:Capin family business records,
Inclusive Dates: 1895-1995
Physical Description:15 linear feet
Collection Number:SJA 005
Repository: University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections
University of Arizona
PO Box 210055
Tucson, AZ 85721-0055
Phone: 520-621-6423
Fax: 520-621-9733

Biographical Note

Hyman Capin (nee Kapinski), was born in Ponevezh, Lithuania, in 1874. He was the son of a tailor and served as an apprentice to his father. In 1886, he and his family emigrated to Manchester, England, then one of the clothing capitals of the world. In 1892, when he was 18, Hyman emigrated to the United States. Seven years later, he became a United States citizen. Hyman Capin settled in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where some of the Capin family had preceded him. It was there he met Dora Loon and married her in 1896. He worked as a tailor for several years. In the early 1900s Dora became ill, and the doctor advised that they move west to a drier climate. In 1906, the Capin family, now numbering seven, moved to Tucson, Arizona. Here Hyman worked as a tailor and eventually operated a dry cleaning establishment.

Troubles on the United States and Mexico border brought military troops into Texas and New Mexico. In 1913, the Capin family moved to El Paso, Texas, to take advantage of Hyman's expertise as a military tailor. He opened shop and began to make military uniforms. In 1916 Pancho Villa raided Columbus, New Mexico and President Woodrow Wilson sent General Pershing and his soldiers in pursuit. As Columbus increased in size, Hyman took advantage of the activity there. In 1918 he opened a branch tailoring and clothing store and placed his son-in-law, Harry Chernin, in charge. When General Pershing failed to capture Pancho Villa, the military units in Columbus were withdrawn.

In 1919 the Capin family moved to Nogales, Arizona where there was another military camp. He and his prospering young family opened a tailoring business where he employed forty tailors. As exclusive tailor for Camp Stephen D. Little, Hyman Capin designed a basic uniform pattern that could be adjusted to fit all sizes. One hundred people were then employed by Capin to take care of handmade work.

The Capins bought their first retail store, S. Leeker Dry Goods, in Nogales, Arizona in 1922, which was later renamed Capin's Department Store. In 1924, they purchased a second store in Nogales called La Ville de Paris from Charles Dumazert. In 1925, Hyman Capin, three sons, and two sons-in-law purchased a retail location in El Paso, Texas, from Stolaroff Dry Goods. This became the Boston Store. In 1934, the family purchased I. Schwarz Department Store in Texarkana, Texas. Both of the Texas stores were closed in the 1930s during the Depression. Hyman Capin retired in 1931, and died four years later in Tucson.

His family continued to manage the business affairs, and Capin's Department Stores incorporated in 1949, as the Capin Mercantile Corporation. In 1960, Capin's expanded their retail business in Nogales, with an additional store, the Parisian. In 1967 they purchased Robinson's Hardware Store in Nogales, and in 1968 the family opened the Duty Free Warehouse. The duty free business was expanded in 1969 by opening another store in San Luis, Arizona. In 1971 the Capin family continued their retail expansion by opening a Capin's store in Douglas, Arizona. They also built and opened the Americana Motor Hotel in Nogales. In 1973, another Parisian store opened in Douglas, and a new location was opened in Nogales called Capin's Annex. In 1975, a Capin's Annex was opened in Douglas as well.

A major devaluation of the Mexican peso occurred in 1976 and the Capins expanded into other markets. In the late 1970s the Capins diversified by adding two stores in Phoenix, Arizona, one of which eventually became the Factory 2-U divisions. In 1982 another major peso devaluation negatively impacted border merchants. At this time, Factory 2-U was growing rapidly, with over thirty outlets throughout Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. To accommodate its expansion, a 220,000 square foot corporate office and distribution center was built in Nogales, at a cost of approximately 7 million dollars. In 1995, amidst another peso devaluation and the effects of NAFTA, the Capin Mercantile Corporation sold their Factory 2-U stores to Family Bargain Corporation for $1.8 million.

Scope and Content Note

Records, 1895-1995, of the Capin family business enterprises consisting of business records, ephemera, photographs (some framed), paste-ups and advertising, and newspaper articles relating to the Capin family, the Capin Mercantile Corporation, and its predecessors.


This collection is organized into four series
I. Business Records
II. Ephemera
III. Photographs
IV. Newspapers and Newspaper Articles





It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission to publish from the owner of the copyright (the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates, or literary executors). The user agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents for the University of Arizona, its officers, employees, and agents from and against all claims made by any person asserting that he or she is an owner of copyright.

Access Terms

Personal Name(s)
Capin, Hyman, 1874-1935

Corporate Name(s)
Capin Mercantile Corporation

Geographic Name(s)
Nogales (Ariz.) -- History

Commerce -- Arizona -- History
Commerce -- Texas -- History
Jewish businesspeople -- Arizona -- Archives
Jewish businesspeople -- Texas -- History
Jews -- Arizona -- History
Retail trade -- Arizona -- History
Retail trade -- Texas -- History

Genre Form(s)
Manuscript text

Administrative Information

Credit Line

Capin family business records (SJA 005). Special Collections, University of Arizona Libraries.

Container List

Series I: Business Records.
1 Capin's Department Stores, Inc.
Corporation records: meeting minutes, January 2, 1930-December 17, 1939
Corporation records: meeting minutes, February 5, 1940-January 31, 1949
Capital stock certificates, January 2, 1930-December 30, 1948
Receipt book labeled "For Payments of Padilla & Oritz Lots", September 27, 1974-June 9, 1989
1 Capin Mercantile Corporation.
Meeting minutes, February 1, 1949-January 23, 1954
Capital stock certificates, February 1, 1949-December 15, 1976; 1982
2 Capin Mercantile Corporation; Monthly records of sales for the departments in various of the Capins’ stores 1969-1980.
2 Capin Mercantile Corporation.
Capital stock certificates books for La Ville de Paris Department Store, October 1958
Capital stock certificates books for El Paso Store, October 1958
Capital stock certificates books for Parisian Mercantile Corporation, August 1960-December 1972
Capital stock certificates books for Capin Mercantile Corporation, December 1976-December 1991
3 S. Leeker Dry Goods Company.
Corporation records: meeting minutes, May 15, 1916-February 2, 1948
Capital stock certificates, January 18, 1917-August 9, 1966
Meeting minutes, December 31, 1948-August 18, 1953
Meeting minutes, February 1, 1954-April 13, 1971
3 Chas. Dumazert Dry Goods Company; Capital stock certificates, July 7, 1924-January 2, 1929.
3 Stolaroff Dry Goods Company, Inc.
Corporation records: meeting minutes, June 5, 1925-April 24, 1930
Capital stock certificates, June 10, 1925-January 2, 1929
4 Employment applications and employee records(Restricted)
Series II: Ephemera.
5 Capin companies' seals.
6 Angel Charity for Children Plate; "Angel Charity for Children, Night Time Observatory Bedtime Library, In Loving Memory of Richard L. Capin. Donated by Capin Mercantile Corporation, F.
6 Commemorative plaque for Hyman Capin with birth and death dates.
6 Framed invitations to tours of the Capin corporate offices, March 1993.
7 Two Santa Cruz County Fair 4-H Reserve Grand Champion Beef ribbons.
7 Cinco de Mayo Parade ribbon.
7 Plaque with article from the business section of the Arizona Republic; "The Border's No Bother, Factory 2-U's Roots are There", December 12, 1992.
7 Plaque with a proclamation from the Mayor of Nogales to Capin's Department Store.
7 Plaque from the Arizona Retailers Association to Capin Mercantile Corporation in recognition of 20 years' membership.
7 Metal placard for CMC Capin Mercantile Corporation complex.
7 La Ville de Paris store ink print block.
7 Capin's El Paso store: advertisement for Leo Carillo.
7 Framed invitation to Capin Mercantile Corporation's opening of new corporate offices.
7 Brochure describing merchandise available on each floor of a Capin's Department Store.
7 Two printed cartoon-style drawings; "You can't do business from an empty wagon", 1918.
7 Americana Motor Hotel's Azteca Dining Room blank menu design.
7 Article encapsulated in plastic from Nogales, Arizona newspaper; "Americana Motel Opens", January 13, 1971.
7 Americana Motor Hotel matchbook and luggage tag.
8-9 Pieces of large posters, advertisement paste-ups, etc. for the Capin Mercantile Corporation and its subsidiaries.
10 Trophy for Fiestas de Mayo; "Mas tipico Fiestas de Mayo, 1956, Ambos Nogales", 1956.
10 Trophy for Fiestas de Mayo; "1st Premio, Capin's El Paso Store, El Carro Mas Bonito", 1954.
11 Trophy for Fiestas de Mayo; "Trofeo otorgado a 'La Ville de Paris' por el mejor carro", 1955.
11 Trophy.
Series III: Photographs.
12 Hyman Capin and two brothers,(Abraham and Louis) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 1895.
12 Four Capin float in a parade.
12 Morley Avenue, ca. 1921.
12 Sam Capin in Ben F. Levi's office in New York City, late 1920s.
12 Exterior of a Capin-owned store on the day of a big merchandise sale, 1928.
12 4-H championship livestock and contestants.
Framed Pictures.
12 Ben Capin (27.5”x24”)
Hyman Capin (34”x27”; 27.5”x24”)
Jake Capin (27.5”x24”)
Richard Capin (27.5”x24”)
Sam Capin (27.5”x24”; 20”x17.5”)
4-H championship sheep
Series IV: Newspaper and Newspaper Articles, 1971-1994.
13 Nogales International; "Factory 2-U Stores Boom, Local chain now employs 900 people in Nogales",(by Kathy Vandervoet) February 18, 1994.
13 Nogales International; "Gigantic Headquarters,"(reference to Capin Mercantile Corporation new warehouse, distribution center and corporate headquarters) September 16, 1992.
13 Assorted articles and clippings; Capin Mercantile Corporation, ca. 1988-92.