Photos and articles courtesy of
Meyer Denn & Ken Rosenzweig
Mr. Max Epstein died here Sunday. Burial was in Beth El Cemetery in Houston, Texas. He is survived by his wife, Ida; daughter, Geraldine; two sons, Lester and Melvin; two sisters, Mrs. Jesse Rubenstein and Mrs. L. S. Cohen and brother, Sam Epstein.
Matagorda County Tribune, October 4, 1945
Simon Bros. Store Front on
left side of the picture where Rosenzweig's was first located.
Simon Bros. and Rosenzweig's
store front in 2012.
Floods usually are not welcome anywhere at anytime, but the Epstein family of Bay City has a rather warm feeling for one particular flood that inundated Bay City more than 20 years ago.
The flood was indirectly responsible for their move here from Kingsville and the establishment of Rosenzweig's and Milady's Shoppe.
The memory of the flood is perhaps more vivid in their minds this week than any other time of the year. They are celebrating their twentieth anniversary here this week.
Melvin is Manager
Rosenzweig's and Milady's Shoppe are jointly owned by Mrs. Ida Epstein and her sons, Melvin and Lester. Lester, at present, is in New York on store business. Melvin is currently managing the stores.
Rosenzweig's is named for Mrs. Epstein's father, Harry Rosenzweig, of Fort Bend County. Mr. Rosenzweig told his eight children that he would help each of them set up in business. Seven of the eight entered business and each named his or her store "Rosenzweig's" in honor of their father.
Mrs. Epstein first opened a department store in Kingsville. Max Epstein, her husband, traveled the coast from Houston to the Valley for a Houston dry goods firm.
And it was while he was entrained from Kingsville to Houston that the flood "marooned" him here. After only a brief look around, Mr. Epstein immediately began negotiations for the move here.
Milady's Shoppe joined Rosenzweig's "family" shortly before World War II.
Mr. Epstein died in 1945 but the store has been carried on by Mrs. Epstein, Melvin and Lester.
A lot of credit for the store's success here must go to Mrs. Randolph Cox and Leon Guzick, said Manager Melvin. Mrs. Cox has been with the store since its opening. Mr. Guzick manages the men's department of the store.
10-12 Market Trips
Ten to 12 trips yearly are made by the Epsteins to Dallas, California and New York in search of the latest fashions and styles.
A famous buying office in New York is retained by the Epsteins to keep their eye on the eastern market.
Melvin joined Rosenzweig's staff after his graduation from the University of Houston three years ago. Lester, a University of Texas graduate, came to the store in 1946 after his release from service.
Many of Bay City's fashion-minded women depend on Milady's Shoppe to keep them well dressed.
"It's definitely a challenge buying clothes that we think will appeal to women here," said Melvin, adding:
"But it's a lot of fun, too!"
Rosenzweig Family 1919
The Bay City Rosenzweig's store was named for Harry Rosenzweig who was the father-in-law and partner of Max Epstein.
Harry Rosenzweig is seated in
the picture above with his wife standing on his left. Max and Ida
Rosenzweig Epstein are standing behind Mr. Rosenzweig.
Mr. Max Epstein, manager of Rosenzweig's of Bay City, and Mrs. Epstein, with the many department heads and clerks in the city's newest and most modern store, will be hosts Friday night to hundreds who will come to see the new Rosenzweig's Store on Seventh Street. Mr. Epstein has spared no expense in any department in his modern dry goods store and from the front, the rear and all fixtures as well as thousands of dollars in new merchandise, have been brought to make of it one of the most complete and modern department stores in the state.
There will be no merchandise sold Friday night but souvenirs will be presented to those attending the opening and the store will be so arranged that those visiting will meet the clerks, the various heads of each department and will be given an idea of the complete stock of merchandise handled in this establishment. Nationally advertised merchandise is featured.
Feeling the growing need and almost necessity of air conditioning in most all modern establishments, Mr. Epstein has also installed air conditioning in the new building. This has not been completed as yet but is nearing completion and will be ready within a very short while.
Most modern of fixtures have been installed, a light shade of wood being used. The store is conveniently arranged in two major departments, a department for the men and for the women's wear. A complete shoe department with modern shoe fitting equipment will greet the customers. An infant's department has been arranged to please the children as well as to offer the best in infants' and children's wear.
Mrs. C. R. Cox, for many years employed with Rosenzweig's, is merchandise and credit manager, while Miss Gussie McDaniels is head of the ready-to-wear and lingerie department. Mrs. Parks is millinery department head and also connected with the ready-to-wear department. The infants' department, corset department and household goods are under the direction of Mrs. A. L. Clark, while Mrs. Ima Hood is department head of the piece goods and notions departments. Mrs. H. Alexander is in charge of the alteration department. Miss Bobbie Sherrer is cashier and Mrs. Audrell White is bookkeeper.
In the men's department, Mr. Leon Guzick and Mrs. George Wilson head the shoe departments and the men's clothing departments. Mr. Harry Welch is advertising manager and window decorator.
With but one or two exceptions, all of the employees are local people.
Daily Tribune, Thursday, May 6, 1937
Photo courtesy of Matagorda
With a vision of becoming a vital and integral part of the finest community in the state of Texas, Rosenweig's came to Bay City in 1931, and, after careful planning, established a store here under the management of Max Epstein that is an establishment of which any town of larger size than Bay City can well be proud.
That their faith and belief in Bay City was not wrong and that their vision of a bigger and better Bay City is being rapidly realized is evidenced by the fact that shortly after they had established themselves here it became necessary to move into larger quarters; quarters which they today occupy with one of the most modern and up-to-date department stores to be found in any part of the country.
Rosenzweig's itself is a Texas institution, having been organized in Richmond, Texas, in 1901. Their Bay City store is the first store of its kind in South Texas to use light color scheme of fixtures which tend to greatly relieve what might otherwise be a rather gloomy atmosphere.
In accordance with their desire to make this store one of the most modern and well equipped of any store in this section of the state they have gone even farther than that. Theirs is the only store of its size, according to Mr. Epstein, in any town the size of Bay City, or twice its size in the entire south that is air-conditioned.
They carry only standard brand of merchandise such as will be found only in the first class stores of the larger cities. Such lines as Florsheim, Frank Jarman, Friendly Five and Fortune Shoes for men; hats by Stetson, Mallory and Byer-Rolnik; Arrow, Shirtcraft and Elder shirts for men; Peter Pan, Marcy Lee and Lyn-Brook dresses for ladies; coats and suits by Hollymode and Justmoor for ladies and Kirschbaum, Michnels-Stern, Curlee and Rose suits for men. These are just a few of the many lines of first-grade standard articles carried by this modern and up-to-date store.
"We have an organization," said Mr. Epstein in speaking of his personnel, "of which any store could be proud. We believe we have a right to boast of their courtesy and efficiency and they take a real pleasure in waiting on our customers. They know the stock and are able to make pertinent and valuable suggestions whenever the customer is in doubt as to just which article would be the most appropriate. It is the desire of the entire organization that we be of service to the public over a period of time rather to make the immediate sale regardless of later consequences."
In addition to Mr. Epstein, general manager of the store, there are several employees necessary to attend to the proper functioning of such a large establishment. Among them are:
Mrs. C. R. Cox, general manager of the piece goods and ladies departments. Mrs. Cox is a graduate of Bay City schools and has had 10 years experience in her line of work.
Mrs. Clyde Parks, manager of the ladies ready-to-wear department, has had 25 years experience in her line and is amply qualified to hold a position of such responsibility.
Mrs. Ima Hood heads the piece goods department and she was also raised in Bay City and has several years experience in her line of work.
Miss Gussie McDaniels, formerly of Rockdale, Texas, has charge of the ladies' underwear, millinery and dress accessories department.
Mrs. A. L. Clark, who was raised in Bay City, has charge of the infant's and children's department which consists of underwear, dresses and gifts. She is qualified to make really valuable suggestions to those who are not definitely decided upon the articles of their choice.
Miss Bobbie Sherrer has charge of the hoisery, notions and pattern departments. She is also a Bay City girl and received her schooling in the city.
Mrs. Audriel White is bookkeeper and auditor and Miss Merry Adams is cashier and checker. These two comprise the office force.
The men's clothing department is headed by George Williams who was born and raised in this county and whose personality and friendly assistance to those who are looking for something but are not sure as to just what it is has made him a world of friends throughout the county. He is well-liked and very popular with all of the regular customers and many requests his services when making purchases.
Leon Guzick came to the store shortly after it opened, as head of the men's shoe department and also assists in the display advertising and window trimming. He came here from Sherman, Texas.
Louis Hagerman acts as salesman in the men's department and assists in the buying of men's furnishing goods.
Nearly all of the employees have been with the store almost since its opening and all take an interest in seeing that it functions in accordance with the desire of the company as a medium of service to the community. It is with that idea in mind that practically everything pertaining to the operation of the store is done and each member of the staff are always eager and willing to be of assistance in any way possible that will help the customer. It is their boast that once a person has seen their service, courtesy and willingness to aid that person is a regular customer.
Matagorda County Tribune, Century of
Progress Edition, August 10, 1937
Photo courtesy of Matagorda
Photo courtesy of Matagorda
Ideal Shopping Conditions
Amid an air of quiet elegance, shoppers at Bay City's leading department store, Rosenzweig's, examine stock offered and make selections in comfort, attended by courteous, well trained salespeople, many of whom have been so long with the company that they are like old friends to the shoppers not only of the city but of the county and entire surrounds.
Rosenzweig's first opened its doors in Bay City in November, 1931. The name itself is memorial, perpetuating the great department store business begun in 1901 in Fort Bend county by Harry Rosenzweig, father of Mrs. Max Epstein who collaborates with her husband in the operation of two great mercantile extablishments in this city, Mr. Epstein heading Rosenzweig's and Mrs. Epstein Milady's Shoppe, fashionable ladies' ready-to-wear shop adjoining Rosenzweig's.
Rosenzweig's has become an institution on 7th St. between between Avenue F and Avenue G. Its first location was "about 100 yards west of the present site," to quote Mr. Epstein. He opened first in a fifty-foot front that has been a cleaner's establishment, a shoe shop and a grocery store until the fire of May 26, 1945.
Early in 1937, a change to the present location seemed practical and on May 7, 1937, the Daily Tribune ran the following story: [see article]
The following day, the Tribune read:
"Bay City's newest department store held its formal opening last night and hundreds came to visit and inspect. Vases of flowers from fellow business men, from out-of-town concerns and many friends, decorated the new and modern establishment. Mr. and Mrs. Max Epstein, hosts, carried the visitors through the many departments of the store."
After Four Years
Life flowed along for the next four years, 1937 to 1941, during which time Mrs. Epstein, daughter of a department store head, wife of such a one and with the charm of the business in her blood, dreamed of opening "the prettiest ladies' shop in south Texas."
Plans were made and considered, revised and changed, made more and more elaborate and detailed until another opening was on the business calendar of Bay City. This was in September of 1941.
Again let the Matagorda County Tribune speak:
"Miss Hazel Burton of Okmulgee, Okla., has been named as manager of the new Milady's Shoppe, located on the north side of the square between Rosenzweig's and Taylor Brothers, which will be opened this week. Miss Burton is an experienced ladies' ready-to-wear executive having spent sixteen years associated with that type of business.
"Before coming to Bay City, Miss Burton was manager of a similar shop in Okmulgee and has had connections with this type of work in many large cities. She is an experienced buyer and is familiar with the various lines and styles of her trade, having dealt extensively with the ladies' ready-to-wear markets in New York, Chicago and St. Louis.
"The new dress shop which Miss Burton will manage is one of the most modern establishments of its kind in Texas. The interior is done in modern design with classic appointments including deep pile carpeting, complete air-conditioning and fluorescent lighting. The woodwork and display counters are made and finished in handsome magnolia and the entire building is laid out along modern lines.
The windows for displaying the shop's wares are particularly attractive and are decorated in classic black, with handsome black carpets and rich black velvet drapes. The new mannequins, which will be used to display models, will hold the center of the spotlighted window.
"The new shop will have four handsome dressing rooms for trying on and fitting garments, equipped with triple mirrors."
So Milady's Shoppe was born and it continues to be the ultra modern ladies' ready-to-wear establishment of Bay City. It is under the personal supervision of Mrs. Epstein whose charming personality is one of its greatest assets.
Models From Eastern Markets
The proprietors of Rosenzweig's and Milady's Shoppe state, "We specialize in standard lines and brands. We contact the markets through personal trips three or four times each year to see new styles and values as they appear. This means that our stock is always fresh and up-to-date. The styles shown in our stores are the styles being shown on Fifth Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard."
Throughout the store, standard lines are in stock. A few such lines in ladies' wear are Fred A. Block, Carlye, Paul Sachs, Frances Dexter, Doris Dodson, L'Aiglon, Carol King, Kay Dunhill, Knox hats, Vanity Fair underwear and many others.
In ladies' shoes, patrons find Selby Styl-eez, Gold Cross, Tweedies Parish Fashion and other equally well known.
On the men's side of the House of Epstein may be found Florsheim and Jarman shoes, Dobbs hats, Stetson hats; Arrow shirts, ties, underwear and handkerchiefs; Nor East ties; Holeproof socks; Michael Stern suits; Tom Sawyer boys' clothing and Resistol hats, the last made in Texas in one of the largest and finest hat factories in the nation, these lines among others of national reputation.
More Than Forty Years
The name, Rosenzweig, has been a part of Texas history since 1901 when Mr. Harry Rosenzweig arrived in Richmond, Fort Bend county. An emigrant youth of 24 years, he had sailed past the Statue of Liberty and crossed the many miles to Texas, joining in Richmond an uncle, Mr. M. Schiff. It was in Richmond that he opened his first store on a very small scale. The following year be brought his family, a wife and two children, to Texas and as his business prospered he became financially interested in other stores until at the time of his death in August, 1935, he was interested in four large stores, one in Rosenberg, two in Goose Creek and the one in Bay City.
A Native Texan
Mr. Max Epstein is a native Texas, born in Brenham, Washington county, in 1896, son of Meyer and Lena Epstein. The family moved to Houston in 1896 and made its home there until 1919.
Max Epstein's first business venture was in Richmond in 1919 and 1920. From 1920 until 1931, he was in business in Kingsville and from that year to the present, he has lent every effort to offering Bay City and Matagorda county the best and most modern in department store service.
Mr. and Mrs. Epstein look back to 1918 as their wedding year and Houston as the city where their vows were taken.
They have to sons, Lester and Melvin, and one daughter, Gera Lee.
They Have Built Well
Asked about the men and women who made up the large personnel at Rosenzweig's, Mr. Epstein says, "They are a magnificent group of people. It is through the efforts of every one that our business here has succeeded. Our appreciation to each and every one knows no limits."
Four of the group have been with Rosenzweig's since they opened here in 1931: Mrs. Randolph Cox, Mrs. Clyde Parks, Mr. George Williams and Mr. Leon Guzick.
Others who have been associated with Rosenzweig's up to five years are:
Mrs. Margaret Carter
Tribune, 100th Anniversary Edition, August 23, 1945
Former Bay Citian Lester Epstein, 70, died Sept. 4, 1992. He was born March 12, 1922 in Houston.
He attended Bay City High School and graduated from the Schreiner Institute in Kerrville and the University of Texas at Austin.
Survivors include a son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Barbara Epstein; a daughter and son-in-law, Gail and Foster Faerman; a brother and sister-in-law, Melvin and Renee Epstein of Bay City and a sister and brother-in-law, Geri and Charles Hooks of Houston; five grandchildren, Christopher and Ryan Epstein and Jessica, Julie and Daniel Faerman; his former wife and friend, Evan Epstein and her mother, Jessie Strizver of Houston.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Max and Ida Epstein of Bay City.
For those desiring to make a donation in Lester Epstein's name, the family suggests contributions be made to the "Max Epstein Trust For Education in the Arts" at P. O. Box 111, Bay City, 77404-0111, or to the charity of the giver's choice.
Arrangements are with Levy Funeral Directors in Houston.
Daily Tribune, September 6, 1992
Copyright 2007 -
Present by the Epstein Family
Mar. 2, 2008
Oct. 24, 2013