To James Edgar, a Scottish immigrant whose dry goods store became a landmark in downtown Brockton, every day was about children. "I have never been able to understand why the great gentleman lives at the North Pole. He is so far away ... only able to see the children one day a year. He should live closer to them," Edgar once said.
In 1890, he brought Thomas Nast's1862 drawing of Santa Claus - jolly and round and dressed in a red suit - to life. In a custom-made red suit, the tall, ample-bodied and bearded Edgar became the first department store Santa Claus, a designation widely recognized today and memorialized in a plaque in downtown Brockton.
Edgar was born in Scotland in 1843 and came to Brockton in 1878. He became known as "Brockton's grand old man," a businessman, family man and a man whose love for his community and the children would live on after his death in 1909. His store was the first in the city to have electric lights and cash registers. He instituted the Edgar Layaway Plan.