By: Marshall Waren
In the summer of 1965, I was an incoming sophomore at Fayetteville High School. Being new to the scene, I was intimidated by the stylish, well-dressed upper classmen. I had saved up money from my paper route and so I headed downtown to Ed Fleishman and Brothers on Hay Street to get a Gant shirt and a pair of weejuns (known today as penny loafers, but of course, it was not cool to put a penny in them in 1965) so I could fit in with the crowd at Fayetteville High. Ed Fleishman’s had a great young men’s shop upstairs and young college students like Buck Scott, Ben Hailey and Shikery Fadel worked there. They helped me get into style.
When I walked out of Ed’s to my right was H. Fleishman Men’s Store at 107 Hay Street and across the street was Fleishman’s Big Store, the Capital Department Store, Fleishman’s Style Shop and Leon Sugar’s Tweed ‘n Things for ladies. Further up the street was the Varsity Men’s Shop. Down the same side of the street was Leon Sugar’s Men’s Shop, which would be a regular venue of mine over the years. All these stores had Jewish owners and they made up most of the retail trade in downtown Fayetteville for over 63 years. The Fleishman family’s clothiers set and maintained the trends in the city.
CityView will be doing a two-part series on their family and how influential they have been in the Fayetteville community for over 100 years. They started as haberdashers, but their offspring became doctors, lawyers, educators and successful business people that were the root of economic and cultural growth in Fayetteville. Their family is so huge that we could not possibly cover everyone. So, we decided to write about the three clans of Fleishman’s that made a large impact on our community. Harvey Fleishman and I started conversing at the Haymount Grill months before this article. He told me, “Marshall, there is more to the story of my uncle and Babe Ruth than people know,” and that is how we got started with this piece. Maurice Fleishman was famous in Fayetteville for being the batboy when Babe Ruth hit his first home run in 1914. There is a plaque on Gillespie Street that commemorates the occasion. Due to his knowledge, it’s no surprise that Harvey is the historian of the family.
People that grew up in Fayetteville you may know like, Ben Hailey, Shikery Fadel, Mitchell Graham, Kip Broadfoot, Andy Harnsberger and Buck Scott learned life lessons working in the men’s stores located on Hay Street in the 1960s and 1970s. They worked under men like Wilber Murphy and John Hair that taught them how to be polite and respectful to customers. It paid off. They all had or have had successful business careers that started with the Fleishman connection in downtown Fayetteville.
The Fleishman family migrated from Lithuania to Baltimore in 1870 because of oppression and anti-Semitism under Russian rule. The start of the Fayetteville branch began in 1902 when Max Fleishman, the patriarch of the family sent his sons south. They set up shop first in Dunn and then came to Fayetteville shortly thereafter. Max had eight children and most of them moved below the Mason-Dixon. The sons Hyman, Jacob and Harry Fleishman had the most offspring and were heavily involved in the clothing business. These three brothers have hundreds of descendants, with many living in North Carolina and many still in Fayetteville.
It all started in Baltimore, Maryland when Max Fleishman arrived in the United States. He married and soon after had eight children, to include Hyman, Ben and Morris Fleishman. These three had a major impact on Fayetteville.
The Fleishman family, was and still is, faithful to God and their tradition of marriage within the faith. They were one of the founding families of the Beth-Israel synagogue on Morganton Road. Hyman Fleishman was the first president. Joe Sugar, a descendent of Hyman recalled an old story told to him: “My great-grandfather in St. Pauls was so nervous about finding a Jewish wife, so he went to Baltimore. He came back in two weeks with a wife.”
Hyman had eight children, Edward, Samuel, Maurice, Leon, Nathan, Henry, Fannie, Milton and Bernard in that order. Most of them were in the clothing business in Fayetteville. It all started in 1902 with a businessman in Baltimore named Jacob Epstein. Epstein owned a business that was called the Bargain House and he had a connection with the clothing manufacturers in the East. When the eastern European Jews arrived in Baltimore he saw an opportunity to send these young men south. He picked the Fleishman brothers Ben and Morris and sent them to Dunn and Hyman soon followed. With clothes on consignment from the Bargain House in Baltimore, they were in business with little or no capital. Their first store was called B Fleishman’s in Dunn and soon afterwards they started another store in Fayetteville. B Fleishman’s later became Fleishman’s Big Store when the brothers split up. Fleishman’s Big Store was a major women’s and children’s department store in Fayetteville from 1926 until it closed in the 1970s. It was located between the Capitol Department store and First Citizens Bank at Market House Square. My mother, my wife and her family shopped at Fleishman’s Big Store in the 1950s and 60s like most women in Fayetteville did at the time. I remember how big I thought the store was back then. Although it was probably not that tremendous, to a kid it seemed gigantic.
Hyman was involved with his brothers Ben and Morris in B Fleishman, but he was not much of a businessman. He went back and forth from Fayetteville and Baltimore. He was more of a sports enthusiast (see the Publishers column). Hyman’s oldest son was Edward Fleishman or commonly referred to as “Ed.” In 1923, Ed had saved $1900 and purchased a store on Hay Street from M. F. Shuford on the south side across from Fleishman’s Big Store. Originally, Ed and his brother Maurice were partners in the new venture, but later their younger brother Leon joined them. The store became known as Ed Fleishman and Brothers. At one time during the highlight of their career in haberdashery, they had 10 stores in North Carolina and Virginia. Their two most famous stores were here in Fayetteville. The main store on Hay Street and the second was later located at Tallywood Shopping Center. A store in Wilmington still exists today that was bought from Ed and Maurice by their brother Milton in the 50’s and his son Neal operates Fleishman’s Fine Clothiers in Independence Mall. Bernard Fleishman owned a men’s store downtown as well. All the other Ed Fleishman and Brothers stores closed in the 1970’s, mostly due to the economic urban impact of malls on downtown trade. The last Fleishman-owned store, T. Alexander’s, closed in Cross Creek Mall in January 2015.
Ed Fleishman’s Fine Men’s Clothing Shop was an icon to young men in the early 60s and 70s in Fayetteville. It was post Kennedy administration and a very preppy style was adopted by many young Americans. They started a young men’s shop upstairs in the downtown store and hired several young men to work there, one was Buck Scott (see side bar). Buck, now 70 and retired as a pharmaceutical executive in Atlanta stated, “The life lessons I received working for the Fleishman’s cannot be measured, I learned how to dress, how to make a first impression and what success looked like.” Many young men learned business acumen under the Fleishman brothers by working at the store. Ben Hailey, age 72, graduated from East Carolina and is now in Jackson, Mississippi working for Herend Silverware. He started working there when he was 14-years-old. He said, “The Fleishman’s taught him responsibility and matured him as a young man.” His father had died the year before he started working at Ed’s.
When I was in high school all my friends had to have clothes from either Ed Fleishman or Leon Sugars. If you didn’t have a Gant shirt, khaki pants and a pair of weejuns you were out of it. All were available at Fleishman’s or Sugar’s.
Ed had four sons Herman (Sandy), Harvey, James (Jimmy) and Joel. Harvey and Jimmy also ran retain clothing shops at the mall in later years. Sandy died in 1991 and has two sons who both live in Alaska. Harvey did not have children, but Jimmy had two sons, Todd and Scott. Scott and Todd were friends with my two sons Bob and Hughes. Scott and Bob played on the Fayetteville Academy Basketball team together and we saw a lot of the Fleishman’s in those days. Scott died in a motorcycle accident in 2005. They also had a brother Joel that was the manager on the 1957 UNC Championship basketball team and a graduate at Carolina. He founded a men’s clothing store in Greensboro. He died in 2012. He has two successful children. His wife, Linda, is the daughter to a former prominent physician in Fayetteville, Dr. Sam Elfmon.
The family’s roots go deep into the history of Fayetteville. Leon Fleishman had a daughter named Mickey that married Leon Sugar. Leon made a bold move and opened a men’s shop on Hay Street in 1956. Going in direct completion with his in-laws. In 1958, he added a ladies shop and in 1963 he bought the Stein Brothers store on the corner of Hay and Donaldson. He asked his wife, Mickey, to run Tweed ‘n Things on Hay and he operated the men’s shop. His family was also in the clothing business in St. Pauls and it was very successful. Leon had a thriving operation but he saw the handwriting on the wall and moved to his business to Cross Creek Mall in 1975 when everyone else downtown was running scared. He became very successful at the mall. He had two sons that followed him in the business, Mitch and Joe as well as two daughters, Donna and Harriet. Joe now owns his uncle’s shop in St. Pauls, Joe Sugar Clothing Store. The store made a name throughout the south for catering to big and tall men. Thanks to eye catching billboards on I-95, Joe receives traffic from many travelers. Mitch ran Leon Sugar’s for several years and moved it from the mall to McPherson Church Road, where the current Anstead’s Tobacco Company is located. Mitch sold the store to Neal Matthews from Clinton in 2006 and he moved it back downtown. It eventually closed in 2011. Following in the small business owner footsteps, Donna Sugar is an entrepreneur in Raleigh who has one daughter. Harriet lives in Montreal, Canada and has three children.
The only daughter of Hyman Fleishman was Fannie and she married Harry Satisky and they had two sons: Steve and Howard. Steve still lives in Fayetteville and is a former Fayetteville City council member. He has one son. Howard is a real estate attorney in Raleigh. He has two sons. Another brother, Henry Fleishman, son of Hyman owned H. Fleishman’s on Hay Street. He had the last surviving Fleishman’s retail store in downtown Fayetteville. It stayed in business until 2007 when the death of his son Hyman caused it to close. The building was around the corner from Ed Fleishman’s location and it was recently purchased by downtown real estate developer John Tyson. Henry had two children.
There are over 75 surviving descendants of the Hyman Fleishman branch, currently spread from Canada down to the southeastern United States.
The next in this series is on the Harry and Jacob Fleishman branches. They produced mostly doctors, educators and business people. Several of those famous people are Dr. Malcolm Fleishman who died in 2012, his son, Dr. Sam Fleishman, Tiny Town owner Michael Fleishman and esteemed attorney and professor at Duke Law School, Joel Fleishman.
Mr. Ed’s High School Haberdashers
Worked at Ed Fleishman’s from 1957 to 1962
“I got a ticket on Hwy 301 coming back from a dance. I was doing 80 in a 55 and looking back, that was a sure way to lose my license and job. I went to Mr. Ed on Monday morning scared to death. Ed Fleishman said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it and he did. I never had a speeding ticket since and it’s been 56 years!’ The Fleishman’s taught me responsibility, manners and helped me mature into a young man.”
Worked at Ed Fleishman’s while in high school and at Campbell College
“It was my only opportunity growing up to have spending money. At several years of working for for 75 cents hour, I asked Mr. Ed for a raise. Mr. Ed said, ‘I will put you on commission and whichever is higher you will earn and I will guarantee you $1 per hour.’ I never earned more on commission, but he stuck with the $1 raise.
Worked 1970 to 1971
“Maurice liked to break Jewish tradition and eat barbeque and hot dogs. I would go to the pool hall to get the sandwiches and he had to be sure his brother Ed did not smell them because he would ‘chew’ his brother out for eating pork if he smelled the meat in the bag. Ed was much more religious and followed Jewish traditions.”
Worked at Ed Fleishman’s from 1961 to 1971
“Buck Scott was the first guy, Ben Hailey was the second and I guess I was the third one in the door and I really enjoyed working with those guys. Everything was centered around downtown, I got to know so many people in town working there. Ed was about my size, a little guy. He was very soft spoken, very gentle. He was the guy I could go to and talk to. He was a father figure in a way.”