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.









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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55 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.


    • philip osoff Says:

      Jerry D–this is 11 yrs late, but…my father was the CPA for Russeks—my mom and sisters had gorgeous clothes from them–mom’s minks were a tactile delight for a little boy–i have annual reports and some pictures of company dinners—my dad changed his name from Osofsky to Osoff at their request

      • J M Says:

        Hello how are you? I found out my great grandfather worked at Russeks in Manhattan. He was a furrier.

  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.

  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.

  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:


  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

    • norse Says:

      skinny legs, big nose , proly big ears, whiny voice lots a haaackin haackin haackin

    • Pete Says:

      Hi Terry,
      This is a question unrelated to the Department store.
      I saw your had done some research( ancestry) on John Hanas, date of birth 8/30/1879 and who died in NJ in 1950.
      I am from Ohio and was wondering about your connection( or why the research) with this
      from Near central , Ohio


  13. Jean Cherni Says:


  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.

  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
      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!

  24. Jane Says:

    I read the Patricia Bosworth biography of Diane Arbus….as it describes in great detail not only the life of Diane but also the history of the Weinstein family. My grandmother Ida Weinstein Rosen was the sister of Max Weinstein. Max was a good friend of the Nemerov family who owned Russecks. At some point Nemerov was going into bankruptcy and Uncle Max save the store. Max ran it for a number of years and put many of the Weinstein nieces and nephews to work at the Fifth Ave location. One of the nephews was Allan Arbus….he apparently met Diane Nemerov during their summer job at the store…and later married. The Weinstein family was quite large. My grandmother was one of 12 siblings and there were at least 26 first cousins….my dad one of them. I often heard stories about Russecks, the cousins who worked there and how great Uncle Max was to the family. Unfortunately the generation of my grandmother and her 11 siblings are all gone. My dad’s generation….of the 26 first cousins are all gone. Many of the second cousins are still here today and alive and may have memories of Russecks through the stories of their parents who worked there. If anyone would wish for me to connect them to some of the Weinstein cousins I can do so….especially those from Uncle Max’s line who might have the clearest memories. I have a cousin Jack whose dad worked at Russecks and he might also have memories of that time. Please email me at and put the name Russeck in the title if you wish to know more.

  25. bob bride Says:

    I was a fashion illustrator straight out of Parsons in june of 1957…and within months, my illustrations were full page in the Sunday New York Times….just one figure! I was the first artist to draw the “chemise”. I was part of the stores last attempt to stay afloat …using a young, hip art director…I was given a model, an art table, a taboret and the run of the fur salon (defunct). I remember protective coverings of the carpet beneath. My tenure was brief…Russeks 5th Avenue went under. I wish I knew the name of the art director !!!!

  26. LUCIA GIBSON Says:

    I would love one of you collarless, long sleeve jackets, appears gathered hip length. The one I saw was on eBay,Vintage in reddish brown (?) authentic mink circa 80s, …not fuddy-duddy,old-fashioned thick collars to make other women think you’re oozing wealth, no longer needed to feel good and appear sumptuous

  27. Ginny Hynes Says:

    I did a short stint as a junior dress model in the ’50s while a nursing studenrt@ The Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing. I loved the clothes @ Russek”s. they were affordable and so contemporary. I was so crushed when they closed the store on 5th Ave.

    • bob bride Says:

      I was a fashion illustrator right out of the Parsons School of Design and I was the first artist whose drawing of the Chemise ran full page in the Sunday New York Times. I wish I remembered the name of its fun art director who was most kind to me.

  28. Loretta Thiry Says:

    I really enjoyed reading all of these comments. I have a Russeks coat that is in perfect condition. It belonged to my aunt. She purchased it in NYC many years ago. The coat is black, full length, with a beautiful black fur collar. The coat fits a large sized woman (possible size 18).
    I probably will not wear it because I am a smaller woman, but don’t know what to do with this beautiful coat. Any suggestions?

    • Sharon Says:

      Your Russek coat- can you send me pictures of it? I am related to that store and had loat my grandmother’s russek coat.
      Email me:
      GoldmanSharon ((aol email))

  29. Greg Says:

    When did russeks close?

  30. Margaret Fuccillo Says:

    I was 18 yrs old, just started to make a decent salary. Mom and I went to Russeks to buy a winter coat for me …..I bought a black dress winter coat with persian lamb trim on collar and cuffs It was so beautiful that it left an ever lasting memory for me …
    I am now 84 yrs old ….

  31. Faded Beauty: Russeks Department Store the Little History Left Says:

    […] label and memories passed down) is a faded painted sign.  I found the picture below on the site Ephemeral New York along with a little insight on Russeks.  The comments are filled with memories of the almost […]

  32. Lisa Baxter Garber Says:

    This is a huge long shot, but here goes. Please be patient with me, first time poster!

    My maternal grandmother, Madeline Sherman Weaver (née Matilda Sturman/n, name and Jewish religion changed by order of her husband, my grandfather…smh…) was the sister of Fanny Simmins of NYC. Fanny’s daughter, Ruth (Simmins?) was, I believe, Harold Russek’s wife. Can anyone help me with any of this genealogy? This is a branch of my family I have no information about other than the sketchy info above. My mother (Phyllis Ruth Weaver Baxter) was born in 1910, I was born in 1954 ( an oops! Baby lol) and mother died before I had any interest whatsoever in family history.
    Thank you.
    Lisa Baxter Garber

  33. Edwardx Says:

    Started a Wikipedia article today:

    • philip osoff Says:

      Edward, i have 2 company dinner photos (my father was their CPA)–i also have many corp annual reports–i can send pictures of all that

      • Sara Jane Boyers Says:

        Phillip – when was. your father the CPA? My father was there in the late 1920s/1930s I believe as their advertising director and I wonder if he might be included in the company photos. If so, I would very much like to see them. Sara Jane Boyers

  34. Leslie Stewart Says:

    Walter Weinstein was VP of Russeks. He was my uncle.

  35. Shay Keller Says:

    My Mom started as an elevator girl there and was quickly moved to the show room to model furs

    • philip osoff Says:

      good story!—i enjoyed seeing the ads and the faded sign—i forwarded this email to my sister

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