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After the great fire of 1871, young, ambitious Daniel Pardway arrives in Chicago with his wife Abigail, eager to start a new business in the heart of the planned renovation. Spurred on by impending fatherhood, Daniel soon converts his vacant storefront into a dry goods store called The Bazaar. To advertise the store's opening, Daniel stages a vast sale, which includes a sock giveaway, and is mobbed by a sea of anxious shoppers. One of the shoppers, Abe Ullman, convinces Daniel to hire him as a salesman, having proven his mettle during the hectic sale. As the store prospers, Daniel makes Abe his general manager and adds a new department to the store every time Abigail has a baby. After Abigail gives birth to their fourth child, however, she dies, and the children--Gene, Phoebe, Bert and Freddie--are reared by a pampering Daniel. Many years later, Daniel brings his now grown children together to discuss the future of The Bazaar. He tells his sons that he expects them to take over the store when he dies and assigns Gene, the eldest, first responsibility. Gene, however, prefers to drink and keep a mistress, and later becomes involved in a fatal shooting at a brothel. After Daniel pays to have the scandal covered up, he asks his next eldest son, Bert, to be assistant general manager. Daniel soon discovers that the quiet Bert prefers window trimming to managing and finally asks young Freddie to do the job. When Daniel hears that the hard-drinking Freddie has seduced a talkative Bazaar salesgirl, he bribes the girl to keep silent and confronts Freddie with his deed. An indifferent Freddie leaves his father and becomes a hobo. Deserted by his children, Daniel receives a final blow when he is told by Abe, who had begged Daniel over the years for a share of the store, that Gene, Phoebe and Freddie sold their Bazaar stock shares to him in secret because they needed money. Shocked by the news, Daniel suffers a devastating collapse, but lives long enough to see his children together one last time. Ashamed and repentant, the children listen as Daniel expresses his disappointment in them and announces that unless they prove thmselves worthy in six months time, he is leaving the store to Abe. Then, while staring at The Bazaar's neon sign from his mansion window, Daniel dies.