Saks Fifth Avenue was the brainchild of Horace Saks and Bernard Gimbel, who operated independent retail stores on New York's 34th Street at Herald Square in the early 1900s. Their dream was to construct a unique specialty store that would become synonymous with fashionable, gracious living. The combined financial input of these merchant families led to the purchase of a site between 49th and 50th streets on upper Fifth Avenue, then jointly occupied by the Democratic Club and Buckingham Hotel. With the opening of its founders' dream store on Sept. 15, 1924, Saks Fifth Avenue became the first large retail operation to locate in what was then primarily a residential district. By offering the finest quality men's and women's fashions, as well as an extraordinary program of customer services, Saks Fifth Avenue has become a byword for taste and elegance. Store merchandise includes men's and women's apparel, handbags, health and beauty, jewelry and shoes. Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises is owned by Saks Incorporated, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol SKS. Saks Fifth Avenue has more than 50 stores throughout 25 states, including San Francisco, and employs around 15,000.