Joe H. Epstin


Main Street
Columbia, SC


Joseph “Joe” H. Epstin (1868-1942) was raised in Columbia during the Reconstruction era. Born to Philip (1836-1921) and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Wolfe Epstin (1840-1892), Joseph likely grew up helping at his father’s shop, D. Esptin’s Clothing Store, on North Richardson Street (later Main Street). Around 1891, Joe officially joined his father as a clerk there, before briefly working for his brother Moses (1864-1954) at M. Epstin’s at 1637 Main Street. After that he worked with R. Ruben in a tailor shop at 1437 Main Street and then opened his own store, J. H. Epstin, at 1418 Main Street around 1900. An advertisement in the city directory reveals that Joe focused primarily on cleaning, pressing, and tailoring men’s wear there. Around 1904, he moved to 1414 Main Street and changed the name of his business to Joe H. Epstin. At this new location, he shifted away from his previous business model and instead focused on designing custom-made suits and selling imported formalwear with the new tagline, “Joe H. Epstin: the man that fits made famous.”1 Around 1913, Joe and his family moved to Baltimore where he continued to work in the clothing industry.


1 Walsh, Walsh’s Columbia South Carolina City Directory’s for 1905 (Charleston, SC: Walsh, 1905), unpaginated, view 235; digital image, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina ( accessed 21 November 2023).

Main Image: Newspaper clipping advertising Joe’s import sale. Reprinted from The State, December 8, 1910.


Above Image: Advertisement for J. H. Epstin. Reprinted from Walsh’s Directory of the City of Columbia (1903). 


Above Image: Advertisement for Joe H. Epstin. Reprinted from Walsh’s Columbia South Carolina City Directory (1913).

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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