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Archiver > ROOTS > 2007-11 > 1195250076

Subject: Re: [ROOTS-L] Bella Hess Stores
Date: Fri, 16 Nov 2007 21:54:36 +0000


I found the following information, and you can view catalogs at this site also.

National Cloak & Suit was founded about 1888. Around 1910 a reorganization brought about National Bellas Hess, into which Charles Williams stores were merged in late 1929. Bellas Hess survived until the late 1970s. Their name has been in the news within the last few years because of a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1968 the Court decided in the company's favor against the state of Illinois. This landmark case declared that Illinois could not cause Bellas Hess to collect taxes on sales in the state unless they had a "nexus" (physical presence) in the state. Until the last few years, this has been the guiding principal for mail order companies. The state bureaucrats are now so desperate for revenues that they brought another case to the court in 1992 in Quill vs. South Dakota. The Court again confirmed the major part of the Bellas Hess decision on the grounds that to require out-of-state firms to collect sales taxes interfered with interstate commerce. In essence, the !
Court h
anded the problem to the Congress. Something seems to be a little out of kilter in all this sales tax controversy. In our humble opinion, no state official should have the authority to go after a company, mail order or otherwise, on fishing expeditions, just because their state coffers are empty.

At one time National Bellas Hess was one of the top five mail order companies in the country, but slid into bankruptcy in the late 1970s. In the 1960s it did about $250-million a year with 25 million catalogues mailed annually. Former employees attribute their demise to the fact that the company more or less abandoned its mail order mission in favor of discount retail stores and supermarkets.
Puyallup, WA

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