Adapted from Lester Cohen's novel, a father wants his sons to take over his department store, but he is disappointed.
Daniel Pardway (Lionel Barrymore) and his wife Abigail (Ninetta Sunderland) arrive in Chicago in 1871 after the fire and are greeted by his brother Thane (Alan Dinehart). Dan opens the Bazaar store in a big barn, selling socks for 5 cents a pair, and he hires Abe Ullman (Gregory Ratoff) for a dollar a day. Over the next thirteen years his wife Abigail gives him three sons and a daughter; but she dies soon after the fourth child is born.
Years later Gene (William Gargan) is in Paris; Bert (George Meeker) is at Princeton; and Fred (Eric LInden) is in military school. Gene marries in Europe and is getting money from Bazaar. Dan Pardway has a party for his returning children in his large home. He hopes they will take over the business. His general manager Abe asks him for a share in the business; but Dan, saving the store for his sons, only offers him a raise. Gene is discovered drinking with another woman. When he roughs her up, she shoots a man; but it is covered up as a suicide. Gene decides to work with Thane on a campaign. Dan makes Bert assistant general manager and shows Fred pages of ads for the store. Fred meets Mamie (Helen Mack) wrapping packages on Christmas Eve. She faints, and in a car he gives her a ring and kisses her. Thane takes presents to the poor but dies in the snow.
Dan incorporates Bazaar with one hundred shares, giving ten each to Gene, Phoebe (Gloria Stuart), Bert, and Fred. Abe is jealous. Bert tells his father he wants to work in the display department. Mamie shows Dan Pardway the ring Fred gave her, and Pardway gives her a check for $5,000 to stop talking. Fred comes home drunk at 3 a.m. He admits to his father he is no good and doesn't like working in the store. His father tells him to get out, and he gradually becomes a bum. Phoebe is divorced from a European prince. Dan visits Abe in his same old home, and they feel sorry for each other. Abe tells Dan he bought the shares of Fred and Phoebe. Dan collapses, and telegrams are sent to his children. Dan says they failed him, though Bert tried. He gives his sons six months to make good or he will give his remaining shares to Abe. Dan says goodbye to his four children and dies. Alone, Fred says he will try.
Dan and Abe built a business empire; but Abe had no other life, and Dan discovered than none of his children were suited to run his business. This drama explores the father's disappointment in his children not living up to his expectations.