In 1912, Raphael Brotman (1896-1946) left his home in Wyszków, Poland and immigrated to the United States. His journey across the Atlantic began in Bremen, Germany, where he boarded the ship Chemnitz, and ended in Baltimore, Maryland. By 1917, Raphael had moved to Charleston, where he initially sold installment goods from his father’s shoe store at 437 ½ King Street. By 1918, Raphael was working as a clerk in his relative Max Brotman’s cobbler shop at 524 ½ King Street. One year later, Raphael and his father, Jacob “Jake” Brotman (1875-1924), founded tailor shop J. Brotman & Son at 517 King Street. Following Jacob’s death, Raphael continued to operate J. Brotman & Son until at least 1927.
In the late 1920s, Raphael moved to New York City. It was there that he met Charlotte Salz (1901-1987), whom he married in April 1930. Born in Kolbuszowa, Galicia, Austria, Charlotte was the youngest of her parents’ seven children. Following the devastation of World War I and the death of her parents within a few months of each other, Charlotte decided to immigrate to the United States. She arrived in New York City in January 1921 and moved in with one of her brothers in Manhattan. During the day she worked as a machine operator in an undergarment factory, and at night she attended school to learn English.
In 1931, Raphael and Charlotte left New York for Charleston–which was less impacted by the Depression. There, Raphael worked as a peddler through at least 1934. He and Charlotte then opened an army-navy store on King Street, which proved very popular during the war years. After Raphael’s death, Charlotte continued to operate the store until 1962, when she sold out her stock and moved to Summerton, SC to be closer to her daughter, Miriam Brotman Gordin, and her family. In Summerton, Charlotte opened ladies’ clothing store The Towne Shoppe.