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Altman, Benjamin (12 July 1840–07 October 1913), merchant and art collector, was born in New York, New York, the son of Philip Altman, a dry goods merchant, and Cecilia (maiden name unknown). His father, a Jewish immigrant from Bavaria who had come to the United States in 1835, operated a small dry goods store named Altman & Co. on Third Avenue near Tenth Street. Young Altman worked with his brother Morris in his father’s shop in the afternoons. He left school at the age of twelve to work there full time and later held a variety of sales jobs with other dry goods shops in New York City and in Newark, New Jersey. When his father died in 1854, Altman and his brother took over the store, changing its name to Altman Bros. The business prospered, and by 1865 they moved to Third Avenue and Tenth Street; they moved again to a larger building on Sixth Avenue between Eighteenth and Nineteenth Streets in 1870. Morris left the business but remained a partner, and when he died in 1876, Altman became sole owner, later changing the name of the firm to B. Altman & Co....

Article

Bamberger, Louis (15 May 1855–11 March 1944), merchant and philanthropist, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Elkan Bamberger, a wholesale notions merchant, and Theresa Hutzler. Bamberger attended public school in Baltimore until he quit at fourteen to become a $4-a-week clerk and errand boy in his uncles’ dry-goods store, Hutzler Brothers. After two years he joined his brother Julius to work for their father, buying E. Bamberger & Company when their father retired in the mid-1870s. Leaving the position as business manager, Louis Bamberger relocated to New York City in 1887 to accumulate capital for his own retail business while working as a buyer for West Coast wholesalers....

Article

Filene, Edward Albert (03 September 1860–26 September 1937), merchant, reformer, and philanthropist, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of William Filene, a merchant, and Clara Ballin. His father emigrated from Poznan, Prussia (now Poland), in 1848 and, upon arriving in the United States, worked as a tailor in Boston. In 1856 he set up a small retail shop for women’s goods in Salem, Massachusetts. Encouraged by the prosperity of the Civil War years, William Filene moved his family and business to New York City in 1863, but the postwar downturn forced him into bankruptcy by 1870. The family retraced their steps and returned to small shopkeeping in industrial Lynn, Massachusetts....

Article

Goldman, Sylvan Nathan (15 November 1898–25 November 1984), inventor of the folding shopping cart and businessman-philanthropist, was born in Ardmore, Indian Territory (later Oklahoma), the son of Michael Goldman and Hortense Dreyfus, owners of a general store. He received eight years of education in local public schools and in 1912 underwent his bar mitzvah in a Jewish Reform temple....

Article

Mugar, Stephen Pabken (05 March 1901–16 October 1982), businessman and philanthropist, was born in Harpoot, Armenia (Turkey), the son of Sarkis Mugar and Vosgitel (maiden name unknown). The Mugar family immigrated to the United States in 1906 and joined other family members in Boston. Mugar’s father, using $200 borrowed from relatives, purchased the Star Market in nearby Watertown Square. Stephen, his father, mother, and three sisters worked in the market. Stephen graduated from the Boston High School of Commerce in 1919 and took night courses at the Bentley School of Accounting and Finance in Boston (now Bentley College in Waltham, Mass.). When his father died in an automobile accident in 1923, Stephen took over the management of the market....