After 85 years – major changes for local retailer

A local store with roots back to 1926, which began by selling clothes and shoes for infants through juniors and saw three generations of management by the same family, is closing its doors in the coming weeks.

By the time Philip and Miriam Bernstein took over management of the store from Philip’s father and mother, Lester and Sara Bernstein, what was originally known to parents and school children in all parts of town as “The Junior Shop” had expanded its inventories to include items for older teens and adults.

The next generation of siblings, Mark, Cheryl and Gary Bernstein, ran the store as “JR Department Store” until four years ago when the remaining family still active in the business decided to retire.

The landmark St. George Street building that housed the original store had been split many years earlier when the two Tarlinsky sisters each owned half. One of those sisters, Lena, married Benjamin Lichter. They operated “Benjamin’s” at 126 St. George Street where their grandson, Robert Lichter, now operates H. W. Davis Company. The other sister was Sara, who married Lester Bernstein.

JR Uniform Company, the successor to JR Department Store, focuses on specialty sales to police, fire, and other public safety personnel and agencies and does commercial embroidery.

“January marks the eighty-fifth year for JR,” said current manager, Historic City News Editor Michael Gold. “We are all extended family and we wish nothing but the best for each other in the future, however, as far as JR is concerned, in our business, customers would rather order on-line, by e-mail or over the phone — they still will be able to.”

The closing of the retail store location at 3149 N Ponce de Leon Boulevard will happen soon and until the office is relocated and the embroidery equipment is set up in its new home, customers can enjoy 50% off on any merchandise remaining in stock — “Nothing is being held back,” Gold said. “I expect if we survived two major hurricanes and the Great Depression of 1929, we’ll survive, even in this economy, but, if that is going to happen, we have to change the way we interact with our customers.

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