J. Rubin & Son Co.


Gervais Street
Columbia, SC


Joseph Rubin (1883-1938) established a business in his name in 1924. Born in present-day Michałowo, Poland, Joseph immigrated to the United States in 1903 and joined his uncle at his stationary business in New York City. Around 1910, he moved South to Bamberg, South Carolina where he operated a general merchandise store for two years. In 1912, he married Bessie Peskin (1890-1970) of New York and moved to Norway, South Carolina. There, Joseph and Bessie started their family, welcoming two sons—Hyman (1913-2005) and Samuel (1916-1973)—in the 1910s. They then moved to Columbia in 1924, just a year after Bessie gave birth to Charlotte (1923-2008), their youngest.


Within the year, Joseph opened his wholesale business at 1004-1006 Gervais Street. In 1937, Joseph and Hyman incorporated the business under the name, J. Rubin & Son. The following year, Joseph died of bronchial pneumonia while on a buying trip in New York City. Not long after, Samuel joined his brother in managing the family store. Selling to merchants in South Carolina and Georgia, the Rubin brothers maintained exclusive distribution rights within the state for major brands like Hanes underwear and La France nylons.


As they grew their business, Hyman and Samuel became increasingly involved in their local community and state politics. From 1952 to 1966, Hyman joined the Columbia City Council and served as the mayor pro tempore—or essentially the president of the council—from 1956 to 1966. In 1966, he was elected to the state senate and represented the county in that capacity until 1984. Meanwhile, Samuel served in World War II and went on to become the president of the Josiah Morse Lodge of B’nai B’rith, the chairman and treasurer of the United Jewish Appeal, and the commander of the American Legion post number six. In later years, the wholesale business moved to 1742 Blanding Street. Hyman closed the business in the early 1990s.

Main Image: Advertisement for J. Rubin & Son Co. Reprinted from The State, December 14, 1946.


Above Image: View of Gervais Street at Assembly Street in 1962 with 1004-1006 Gervais Street noted in yellow. Image courtesy of The State Newspaper Photograph Archive, Richland Library, Columbia, SC.


Above Image: Advertisement for La France nylons. Reprinted from The State, December 16, 1948.

The Jewish Merchant Project is supported by the generosity of the Henry & Sylvia Yaschik Foundation and the Stanley B. Farbstein Endowment at the Coastal Community Foundation.

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