Carl Bennett, founder of department store chain Caldor, dies at 101

Carl Bennett, the founder of the Caldor department store chain, died at his Greenwich home on December 23 at the age of 101.

Born January 27, 1920 in Greenwich, Bennett grew up in an apartment above Bennett Grocers, his father’s grocery store on Steamboat Road. He graduated from Greenwich High School and attended New York University before serving in the 466th Quartermaster Battalion during World War II.

After returning from military service, Bennett became a wholesaler of liquor for Connecticut Distributors in Norwalk. He opened the first Caldor store in 1951 in Port Chester – the store’s nickname was a combination of his first name and that of his wife Dorothy.

In 1961, Caldor was headquartered in Norwalk and went public on the US Stock Exchange. The company operated 63 stores when it was acquired in 1981 for $ 313 million by Associated Dry Goods, owners of several high-priced department stores, including Lord & Taylor.

Bennett retired in May 1985 and devoted his post-Caldor years to philanthropy in Fairfield County and Israel. The Caldor chain continued until 1999, when poor financial performance forced it to close, and many of its local stores were acquired by the Kohl’s chain.

Bennett was predeceased by Dorothy in 2008 and is survived by their three children and five grandchildren.

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