Stein Mart, a nationwide chain of department stores with roots in Greenville, Mississippi, was named for Sam Stein. A native of Amdur, Belarus,* Stein was born in 1882. Stein immigrated to the United States in January, 1905, arriving at Ellis Island. In New York City, Stein worked for a cousin in the coat manufacturing business. After several months, he had saved enough money to travel to Memphis, where he briefly worked as a peddler of costume jewelry. Soon, however, he went by packet boat to Greenville, arriving in late 1905 or early 1906. According to Stein’s biographer, he arrived in Greenville with $45 in his pocket. Initially, Stein moved throughout the Delta as a traveling salesman. In about 1908, however, he opened a store on Walnut Street. The Sam Stein Store remained at that location until 1924, when the store was moved to 207 Washington Avenue. For more than seventy years, a Stein retail store remained in the 200 block of Washington Avenue.
|The original Stein Mart store in Greenville, opened |
in 1964. Note the "Charlie Conerly" store next door.
|Members of the Jake Stein family |
pose for a photo in front of the new store.
In 2004, historian David Ginzl published a history of Stein Mart called Stein Mart: An American Story of Roots, Family, and Building a Greater Dream.
* Amdur was once a thriving Jewish community. A devastating fire in 1882 destroyed much of the town, however, including the main synagogue, and thousands seeking a better life emigrated to the U.S. prior to 1924, when emigration to America was halted by the U.S. government. In 1942, approximately 3,000 people (what remained of the Jewish population in Amdur) were exterminated by the Nazis at Treblinka.
(1) Stein Mart store: http://www.jgwchpc.com/markers/page26.htm
(2) Stein family: Courtesy of The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life: http://www.msje.org/history/archive/ms/greenville.htm