The first Carlisle store was opened on Main Street Ashtabula in 1857 as Tyler and Carlisle. Lorenzo Tyler was the Father in Law of Henry Theodore Carlisle who in turn was the great-great grandfather of Lorenzo (Ren) Tyler Carlisle III, the present co-owner of Carlisle’s Home in the Harbor on Bridge Street.
Near the turn of the century, the Main Street store, now known as Carlisle and Tyler was closed and a new store was opened on Bridge Street, two building west of the present Carlisle’s store. The store was known as H.T. Carlisle and Son and it prospered during the Harbor Boom years. When the Boom went Bust early in the 20th century, Lorenzo Tyler Carlisle sold the Harbor store and opened a new store called The Carlisle Company back on Main Street. L.T. formed a partnership with Miles Allen and in 1927 the partners opened a grand three level store called Carlisle-Allen. Amongst other luxuries, the store offered the first elevator in Ashtabula. The store prospered and expanded to five stories and the company added branch stores after World War II in Warren and Painesville, Ohio.
Further expansion occurred under the leadership of L. T.’s three sons, Ted, Ford and Tyler during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The company by that time was the oldest department store company in Ohio operated by the same family.
By the 1980s Carlisle’s had begun to move away from full-line department stores to smaller, junior department stores, typically 15,000 to 25,000 square foot stores. With Ren Carlisle at the helm, Carlisle’s grew to 14 stores in Northeast Ohio and Northwest Pennsylvania. Faced with increasing competition from larger department store, discount stores and specialty stores moving into Carlisle’s typical smaller markets, Carlisle’s was sold in a friendly acquisition to another similar retailer, Peebles of South Hill Virginia in 1996.
Throughout its long history, Carlisle’s fundamental philosophy was to offer quality merchandise at fair prices with friendly service and “the customer is always right” policy in all matters. The same philosophy is carried forward today at Carlisle’s Home in the Harbor.