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Tell Me About Finkelstein's

The historic Towson shop closed years ago, but pieces of it are still around.

I've lived around Towson all my life, but I'm still learning new things.

Every so often, a source might mention the "Finkelstein's building" on York Road. That's the building in the 400 block that now houses , and the Towson Arts Collective.

Until 1994, it was home to Finkelstein's, the department store whose sign still adorns the facade.

I never knew much about it. I figured it was a longtime haunt that had left after many years.

But yesterday, as I left the framing gallery, I noticed old advertisement clippings from The Jeffersonian framed on the staircase.

The clippings hawked big sales on clothes. Khaki pants for 89 cents. Men's work shoes for $1.77. Straw hats for 95 cents. That sounds like a bargain until you realize that's 1930 prices, and America was in the throes of the Great Depression.

Another clipping touted a big first anniversary event and had a picture of the very building I was standing in.

Finkelstein's, I discovered, was a department store and Towson icon.

Finkelstein's started back in 1922, when immigrants Ellis and Fannie Finkelstein, who operated a small grocery store in West Baltimore, moved to Towson to open a clothing store on Chesapeake Avenue, a space most recently occupied by .

The Finkelsteins called it Towson Bargain Store. A 1994 Baltimore Sun article wrote that it was then the biggest department store in Baltimore County. The shop moved to the larger space at 408 York Road in 1929, right before the Great Depression. It survived through a mix of ingenuity and tenacity.

Ellis Finkelstein died in 1951 and sons Jack and Arnold took over the business, which was quite successful over the next few decades. But changing shopping habits, among other things, led the store to close in 1994, the Sun reported (when I would have been just six years old).

If you look around, though, you'll find traces of it. The oak floor of the Green Turtle, the sign outside and old clippings telling you to "Stop! Read! Heed!"

So, Towson, since I'm curious, you tell me. What do you remember about Finkelstein's? Share your stories in the comments. And if you have photos, share them using the "Upload Photos and Videos" button on this page.

Tyler Waldman March 09, 2012 at 04:40 AM
Wow, that's amazing. I actually bumped into Ray last night at a community meeting, and it's good to see we stirred some vivid memories with this.
Keri Finkelstein Schless March 09, 2012 at 12:12 PM
I'll never forget my 1st job at Finkelstein's...I was 6 or 7...Arnold, my grandfather handed me a box of pins and had me one by one pick the pins from the wood plank floor. He literally wanted to teach me from the ground up! I loved the people who worked there and the customers. Finkelstein's had a warm neighborhood feel where people loved to visit. Like an extended family. I remember back in the 80's the beach shop in the front of the store-packed with Jams, Quick Silvers, Op's, to name a few, the shoes dept w/Nikes, Timberlands, Justin boots, Vans and best of all my grandfather's smile :), and yes who can forget that huge pair of Levi's that hung in the jean shop...my dad, Roy taking me on buying trips all over :) such amazing memories that will forever warm my heart
Tyler Waldman March 09, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Excuse me, I meant Roy. That's what happens when I write around midnight.
Makerwun November 29, 2012 at 11:46 PM
It was the ONLY store my father allowed us to school shop in - it was an all day affair drive up from Bmore, eat lunch at Beefsteak Charlies in the mall or hang at the library (YUUUUM!!!), then home. I soooo wanted to take my oldest there but it was already a distant memory
ron maher January 20, 2013 at 04:44 PM
I have a Finkelsteins Parking token ever heard of one?

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