CAPIN FAMILY BUSINESS RECORDS, 1895 - 1995 [bulk: 1930 - 1992]


University of Arizona Library Manuscript Collection SJA 005


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.

13 BOXes; approx. 15 linear feet.


Donated by the Capin family and the Capin Mercantile Corporation.


Access to the employee records is restricted (BOX 4).


Request for permission to publish from the collection should be discussed with the Manuscripts Librarian. It is the researcher's responsibility to obtain the necessary publication rights and Copyright clearances for any planned publication.


This collection has been arranged into four series as follows: Series One: Business Records; Series Two: Ephemera; Series Three: Photographs; Series Four: Newspapers and Newspaper Articles.

Historical 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 When General Pershing failed to capture Pancho Villa, the military units in Columbus were withdrawn.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.


Series One: Business Records


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).

Capin Mercantile Corporation

  • Meeting minutes (February 1, 1949-January 23, 1954).
  • Capital stock certificates (February 1, 1949-December 15, 1976; 1982).


Capin Mercantile Corporation

  • Monthly records of sales for the departments in various of the Capins' stores (1969-1980).
  • Capital stock certificates books for: La Ville de Paris Department Store (October 1958), El Paso Store (October 1958), Parisian Mercantile Corporation (August 1960-December 1972), Capin Mercantile Corporation (December 1976-December 1991).


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).

Chas. Dumazert Dry Goods Company

  • Capital stock certificates (July 7, 1924-January 2, 1929).

Stolaroff Dry Goods Company, Inc.

  • Corporation records: meeting minutes (June 5, 1925-April 24, 1930).
  • Capital stock certificates (June 10, 1925-January 2, 1929).


  • Employment applications and employee records.

Series Two: Ephemera


  • Capin companies' seals.


  • Angel Charity for Children Plate enclosed in plastic BOX which reads "Angel Charity for Children, Night Time Observatory Bedtime Library, In Loving Memory of Richard L. Capin. Donated by Capin Mercantile Corporation, Factory 2-U."
  • Commemorative plaque for Hyman Capin with birth and death dates.
  • Framed invitations to tours of the Capin corporate offices (March 1993).


  • Two Santa Cruz County Fair 4-H Reserve Grand Champion Beef ribbons.
  • Cinco de Mayo Parade ribbon.
  • Plaque with article from the business section of the Arizona Republic (Saturday, December 12, 1992) which reads "The Border's No Bother, Factory 2-U's Roots are There" (by Keith Rosenblum).
  • Plaque with a proclamation from the Mayor of Nogales to Capin's Department Store.
  • Plaque from the Arizona Retailers Association to Capin Mercantile Corporation in recognition of 20 years' membership.
  • Metal placard for CMC Capin Mercantile Corporation complex.
  • La Ville de Paris store ink print block.
  • Capin's El Paso store: advertisement for Leo Carillo.
  • Framed invitation to Capin Mercantile Corporation's opening of new corporate offices.
  • Brochure describing merchandise available on each floor of a Capin's Department Store (in Spanish and English).
  • Two printed cartoon-style drawings captioned "You can't do business from an empty wagon" (ca.1918).
  • Americana Motor Hotel's Azteca Dining Room blank menu design.
  • Article encapsulated in plastic from Nogales, Arizona newspaper (January 13, 1971) which reads "Americana Motel Opens."
  • Americana Motor Hotel matchbook and luggage tag (?).

BOXES 8 and 9

  • Pieces of large posters, advertisement paste-ups, etc. for the Capin Mercantile Corporation and its subsidiaries.

BOX 10

  • Trophy for Fiestas de Mayo(1956) which reads "Mas tipico Fiestas de Mayo, 1956, Ambos Nogales."
  • Trophy for Fiestas de Mayo (1954) which reads "1st Premio, Capin's El Paso Store, El Carro Mas Bonito."

BOX 11

  • Trophy for Fiestas de Mayo (1955) in the form of a sombrero which reads "Trofeo otorgado a 'La Ville de Paris' por el mejor carro."
  • Trophy (?) in the form of a jeweled crown or other decorative fixture.

Series Three: Photographs

BOX 12

  • Hyman Capin and two brothers (Abraham and Louis) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (1895).
  • Four color photographs of a Capin float in a parade.
  • Photograph of Morley Avenue (ca. 1921).
  • Photograph of Sam Capin in Ben F. Levi's office in New York City (late 1920s).
  • Photographs of the exterior of a Capin-owned store on the day of a big merchandise sale (August 1928).
  • 4-H championship livestock and contestants.


  • 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 Four: Newspapers and Newspaper Articles, 1971-1994

BOX 13

  • Nogales International: (Friday, February 18, 1994) "Factory 2-U Stores Boom, Local chain now employs 900 people in Nogales" (by Kathy Vandervoet).
  • Nogales International: (Wednesday September 16, 1992) Front page picture with caption "Gigantic Headquarters" (reference to Capin Mercantile Corporation new warehouse, distribution center and corporate headquarters).
  • Assorted articles and clippings which reflect happenings of the Capin Mercantile Corporation (ca. 1988-92).


Capin family

Capin Mercantile Corporation-Archives




Jewish businesspeople-Arizona-History

Jewish businesspeople-Texas-History

Retail trade-Arizona-History

Retail trade-Texas-History

Nogales (Ariz.)-History