Baumans was founded in Little Rock in 1919 by Simon Bauman. The original store was located at 2nd & Main. By the 1930s, Baumans was recognized as Arkansas’ premier clothing store. In 1939, Baumans began offering the Oxxford clothing line, and by the late 1940s, Baumans had surpassed $600,000 in revenue – an incredible figure at the time.
Wayne Ratcliff joined the sales staff of the store in 1973. Upon completion of the First National Bank building in 1975 at Capitol and Spring streets, the store was moved into the mezzanine level of that building. And by 1978, the store had entered a new period of prosperity. Around the same time, the owners decided to open a second store in the Pulaski Bank and Trust building at Pierce and R streets in the Heights.
Ownership of the store had changed hands a few times since Simon Bauman’s death, and in the early 1980s, Wayne began to assume controlling ownership. By 1990, sales had reached nearly two million dollars.
The 1991 Christmas season revealed a significant struggle in getting people to shop downtown Little Rock. Wayne determined to move, and began scouting for a new location.
Pavilion in the Park was soon determined to be the perfect location and a second Baumans location was opened with an eye toward the changing demographics of our city. In 1977, the downtown store was closed, marking the end of an era.
With the downtown revival that began in the 2000s, the cyclical nature of things reveals itself, and Baumans returns to the downtown area by opening a second location in the Capital Hotel – the gloriously renovated icon in downtown Little Rock – in 2007.