Defunct department store: Russeks

Brooklyn’s Fulton Street used to be a department store mecca, home to one-time big-name retailers such as Abraham & Strauss, Loeser’s, and Russeks. The latter disappeared decades ago. Yet a ghostly reminder still exists on the side of a Fulton Street building.

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Russeks started out specializing in furs, but the Brooklyn branch and its Fifth Avenue counterpart soon became known for their women’s collections. These ads appeared in The New York Times pre-World War II.

 russeksad1 Russeks has a celebrity connection: The founders were the grandparents of photographer Diane Arbus and her brother, poet Howard Nemerov.

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35 Responses to “Defunct department store: Russeks”

  1. Defunct department store: Russeks | Celeb Gossip Says:

    [...] the original:  Defunct department store: Russeks Tags: brooklyn, diane, diane-arbus, fashion, fifth-avenue, fulton, fulton-street, loesers, [...]

  2. Jerry D. Says:

    Just wanted some info on Russeks. My friend just bought a fur coat at the Thrift Store across the street – for $5.00 – and it has the “Russeks” label in the coat. The coat is in very good condition, obviously an “old style” and just wanted more info about its origins. If anyone can give us info it would be appreciated.

    Thanks.

  3. normadesmond Says:

    just love stuff like this. isn’t it just like an archaeologist finding a pterodactyl beak?

  4. Stephen Eldridge Says:

    My grandfather Harold G Eldridge worked for “Russeks” for 35 years as a vice-preside and treasurer. Does anyone have any infomation on him? unfornuately, i have very little knowlege of him and would appreciate any infomation that anyone has. stx33@optonline.net

  5. Vickie Zimmer Says:

    I recently purchased a hat box at an auction in Torrington, WY. The name Russeks is on the outside of the pink box. It has some damage to the bottom but else in good condition. I was just wondering if anyone knew the value of the box and wanted more information about the company.

  6. John Warfield Says:

    90 year old aunt died 2-23-2010. Found bill of sale, payment book, fur storage receipts, gold tag all from Russeks in Chicago, IL on a Muskrat Fur coat the aunt purchased for $401.00 in 1946. We cannot find the coat in her house, only all this paperwork. Wondering if any of this is of value to anyone out there.

  7. Maggie Says:

    Have a russeks hat box with a brown felted hat from probably pre world war II…belonging to my aunt who is now 85. Hat says Nyala imported fur.
    Very sweet little number. Just looked up this site to learn more about the origin of the hat. Wondering if anyone collects vintage hats like this– I just couldn’t throw it away.

  8. eleanor shelton Says:

    I grew up in Brooklyn and remember all the sdtores.
    Mt aunt just diesd, at 108 years old, and she left a 1932 Russeks Fifth Avenue magazine in mint condition.And severalfashion photos published in the New York Tribune.
    Can you tell me who the artist was who made the fashion sketches for the magazine and the name of the fashion photographer who took fashin photos for the paper?
    Thank you

    • ben Says:

      After the war the photographers were the owner’s daughter, Diane Arbus (sister of the poet Howard Nemerov), and her husband, Allan Arbus. They worked as fashion photographers also for Vogue, Harper’s etc. until she got tired of the whole thing in 1956 and embarked on a career as an art photographer. He continued for a couple of years before giving up. She became an influential photographer in the ‘new documentary’ school but committed suicide in 1971.

  9. Frank H Jump Says:

    Was shooting on Fulton and found this ad, and then found your great posting.

    http://www.fadingad.com/fadingadblog/?p=8703

  10. Russeks – Fulton Street Mall – Downtown Brooklyn – Fading Ad Blog Says:

    [...] for their women’s collections. These ads appeared in The New York Times pre-World War II. – Ephemeral NY [...]

  11. G Steen Says:

    FOUND AND OLD AD ON A POSTAL CARD DATED 1956 FOR
    RUSSEKS FIFTH AVENUE.PRIVATE SALE! JULY9TH THRU JULY13

  12. Terry Anne Sachko Says:

    My grand aunt, Ida (Ada) Weiner (Jan. 1892-1935) was a model at Russek’s on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Would love to get more info about her career at the store. Don’t even have any photos of her. Any info would be much-appreciated. Thanks, in advance.
    Terry Anne Sachko

  13. Jean Cherni Says:

    Was in New yORK THIS cHRISTMAS AND THERE IS NOITHING ON 5TH aVE NOW BETWEEN SAKS AT 50TH AND LORD AND TAYLOR AT 38TH. GONE ARE RUSSEKS, DE PINNA, BEST AND CO. ARNOLD CONSTABLE AS WELL AS UPTOWEN, BONWIT TELLER AND AT 34TH, B. ALTMAN. ALL THE OLD, WONDERFUL DEPARMTNET STORES, GONE WITH THE WIND BUT NOT FORGOTTEN.

  14. Annette Manasse Says:

    Bought a gorgeous camel colored winter coat in the Fall of 1953 when I started going to CCNY.
    I was married on 1/22/56 wearing a lace bridal gown which was purchased at Russeks. I have the gown in my closet and still love it. Still love and have my husband as well.
    ASM

  15. Alan Says:

    My aunt, Lillian Rhein was the coat buyer at Russeks during the 1930’s to 50’s.

  16. Sydney Fox Says:

    I worked at Lord and Taylor today. The weather in NYC was glorious and I decided to walk down 5th Avenue. There are only a handful of old buildings left between 39th and 34th. I wondered on which cross street the Russeks building was located.

    • ataplow Says:

      A web search yielded this :

      1937- 3 new buildings are mentioned as under construction in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Fulton Street:
      Russek’s on the Northwest corner of Fulton and Bridge Streets, Fulton Savings Bank at no. 375 and Woolworth’s on Gallatin Place.

    • norse Says:

      did ya get the lat and long on that???

  17. ataplow Says:

    1937- 3 new buildings are mentioned as under construction in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Fulton Street:
    Russek’s on the Northwest corner of Fulton and Bridge Streets, Fulton Savings Bank at no. 375 and Woolworth’s on Gallatin Place.

  18. Jane Hixson Says:

    Watched a terrific film on Sundance called “Fur” starring Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey, Jr. Prompted me to find out more about photographer Diane Arbus. Now reading her biography by Patrician Bosworth. For all those interested in learning more about Russeks, I’d recommend it. Also, a good read and extremely interesting bio on the photographer and her brother. Lived in NY in the early 70’s. Wow! How great were those stores, B. Altman always a fav!

  19. Sara Jane Boyers Says:

    My late father was advertising director at Russecks in the thirties and probably responsible for the ads, sketches and probably knew the models. Wish I too knew more. I have clippings on him, several of the style books and, re “celebrity connection,” he was the first to use celebrities to endorse products.

  20. Mary Dworin Says:

    I worked at Russeks for a short time in January 1952, after I had run away from home in Michigan. I was only 15 at the time, and had problems with the older saleswomen. But my job there allowed me to stay in New York City for a month, paying $10.00 a week for my room. Mary Fitzgerald

    • Jerome Castle Says:

      Hi Mary, I also worked at Russeks in the early fifties and have a clear recollection of the store being quite elegant. Harold Russek micro-managed the fur department and Mr Nemerov, well dressed, witha bow-tie seemed to be in charge. My room, in the fraternity house at 18 East 10 Street was only six dollars a week, sans bathroom. It did have a tine coal fireplace. All the girls at Russeks were pretty, and oh-so-stylish. Bet you were just like that also.
      Jerome Castle
      JCastle01@aol.com
      Jerome Castle

  21. norse Says:

    another yiddle of/in retail

  22. Anne C. Melville Says:

    My mom and dad bought me a dyed Russian squirrel fur cape for my 18th bd. I wonder if its worth anything. I still have it.

  23. paula Says:

    My parents met while both were working at Russeks in the 40’s. My dad had drawn a picture of my mom, unbeknownst to her, on a napkin while they were separately having lunch in the cafeteria. He got up the nerve to show it to her. They were married over 50 years. Both are gone now but I still have the drawing on the napkin. Thank you Russeks!

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