ZCMI (Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution, sometimes said as "Zick-mee") is, or rather was, a chain of department stores in the intermountain west. It was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah in March 1868 by Mormon Pioneer Settlers and was the worlds' first department store.
The store was designed to be a central point where local craftsmen could sell their wares to the public in a standardized and unified fashion. Although the head corporation itself was itself never a true cooperative, it spawned a region wide system of local cooperatives owned and operated by the people. Being as it was the only place of it's kind in the Salt Lake valley, it's first year sales topped 1.25 Million Dollars.
The system was simple. Makers of goods would contract to have ZCMI carry their goods and then the company would sell them at the same price no matter which satellite ZCMI store you bought them from. This was in direct conflict with the common practice of the time, which was to exploit the Law of Supply and Demand as ruthlessly as possible; A pair of trousers were the same cost no matter where you bought them from.
The icon of ZCMI, the ZCMI Center on main street in Downtown Salt Lake City, with it's impressive columned facade, was built in 1876 and was the largest commercial building in the area at the time. The facade still exists to this day and is famous for the Winter window displays it assembles every year where local artists are invited to create their own works of art inside the stores windows.
In December 1999, the shareholders of the ZCMI corporation approved it's purchase by the May Department Stores Company and as such all ZCMI stores will now operate under the Meier & Frank name, although the famous facade in Salt Lake will remain.