HISTORY OF BRODSKY TEXTILE
"Brodsky's Famous for Fabrics"
Rochester’s largest textile store had its beginnings in 1929 when Hannah Brodsky, a native of Budapest, Hungry and her husband, Abraham Brodsky, a native of Russia, opened Brodsky’s New York Bargain Store at 414 Joseph Avenue in Rochester, New York. In 1933 Hannah Brodsky opened another store at 406 Joseph Avenue, and named it the Brodsky Textile Store. During its first 25 years, the business grew so much that it started to outgrow its Joseph Avenue location. Originally set up for retail business, the site could not handle the additional sales to suppliers and institutional and industrial users of fabrics. By 1955, a constantly expanding business motivated the Brodsky family to expand the company’s business with a branch store to be located at 870 West Main Street in the Bull’s Head district of Rochester. The family by that time included brothers Samuel, Mort, Irving and Maurice along with brother-in–law Nathan Portno, who all working alongside the matriarch of the family, Hannah, in the business. Hannah Brodsky remained president of Brodsky Textile with her sons, Maurice and Morton Brodsky and son-in-law Nathan Portno as Vice Presidents, with Irving Brodsky as Secretary and Samuel Brodsky as Treasurer. The grand opening of this store took place in February, 1956. At that time Brodsky Textile was the largest textile store in Western New York and one of the largest in the country. The new store featured the company’s large selection of fashion fabrics, along with drapery and slipcover materials. Departments were also devoted to notions, which included threads, buttons, patterns and zippers along with drapery hardware. The original store at 406-416 remained as the company’s headquarters and anchor store.
By 1960 the Bull’s Head store was closed and a new location was chosen for a new main store. The company bought the site of the old Elks Club at 111-113 Clinton Avenue North. The Elks’ building was soon demolished and a new, 23,100 square foot building of masonry and steel was constructed. The first floor along with the basement was to be the retail space for the textile company and the second floor was to be rented as office space. The location, Clinton Avenue North near the corner of Franklin and Andrews Streets was chosen due to it being one of the busiest intersections in Rochester. The original plan for the Joseph Avenue store was to keep the store open and become a branch of the Clinton Avenue main store, but before the new store opened on Clinton Avenue, a decision was made to sell the store on Joseph Avenue and concentrate the business at the new store. Eventually the building on Joseph Avenue would be sold to Grossman’s Plumbing and Supply.
In 1961 Brodsky Textile moved into its new location. It had free parking next to the store and was open Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9:30AM to 6PM, Tuesday and Thursday until 9PM and Saturday until 6PM. The business thrived at its new location. Grandchildren of Hannah Brodsky enjoyed working in the store during evenings and summers and some of them went on to become full time employees. Custom made draperies became a niche of the fabric store and their annual Washington Birthday Sale around Washington’s Birthday always remained an event customers would flock to in February. Industrial customers, like Eastman Kodak, looked to Brodsky’s for supplying specialty fabrics and dressmakers would always go to Brodsky’s first looking for the perfect fabric for their custom made clothing and drapes. Customers came in looking for Mrs, Brodsky and her family with questions on fabric, patterns, and accessories. The customers knew that they would get expert advice for their projects and expert service on their custom made drapery.
In November, 1962, Hannah Brodsky, at the age of 73, died of a heart attack. Until her death she worked in the fabric business and also worked with her daughter Bea Portno at their antique shop, H.B. Antique Shop located at 649 Monroe Avenue. Mrs. Brodsky would be truly missed by not only her family but also her loyal customers.
During the late 50’s, Samuel Brodsky, who became the store’s buyer in addition to his other duties at the fabric store and the textile company, began to delve into real estate. Having been involved in the expansion of the fabric store and its real estate growth, Sam decided to spend more time on its real estate ventures and reduce the amount of time he spent on the day to day operation of the fabric store. He continued running the fabric business with his family and continued his buying trips to New York City to purchase fabric for the retail and commercial business, but at the same time he also started branching out into the planning, development and construction of other unrelated real estate projects along with his brother, Mort. Eventually, the two brothers went on to become major real estate developers in the Rochester area. While the real estate ventures grew, Sam realized that he could no longer devote time to the fabric business. He made the decision to give his full attention to the expanding real estate business and turn over the everyday duties of the fabric business to other family members. During the 60’s and early 70’s, Brodsky nephews, working with other family members and long time employees, started to take on major positions and job duties in the fabric business. In 1974, with the sale of custom draperies expanding, a branch store for drapery fashion was opened at 949 Monroe Avenue. This store was soon closed as customers still preferred the Clinton Avenue store.
Finally in 1975 the stock of the Brodsky Textile Corporation was sold to one brother, Maurice Brodsky who eventually moved the fabric store to Jefferson Plaza opposite Southtown Plaza on Jefferson Road. After several years at its new location and under the sole ownership of Maurice Brodsky, the fabric store was closed.
Brodsky’s, “Rochester’s Largest Textile Store”, is still fondly remembered by its many customers who made it a point to visit the store for its fabric selection and to enjoy the hospitality that was always extended to its shoppers, its extended family.