Leon Bluestein Wholesale Dry Goods Company


Gervais St
Columbia, SC

FAMILIES: Bluestein

Leon Bluestein (1914-2000) opened Leon Bluestein Wholesale Dry Goods Company at 911 Gervais Street in 1957, the same year he married Estelle Aronowitz (b. 1926). Both Leon and Estelle were born to Russian immigrants and grew up in entrepreneurial families. Before opening his dry goods store on Gervais Street, Leon managed a men’s clothing store in Charleston and operated Bluestein Brothers in Columbia alongside his brother Meyer (1908-1986) for nearly a decade. At Leon Bluestein Wholesale Dry Goods Company, Leon stocked workman’s clothing, big and tall attire, and hotel linens. In 1967, he moved his business to a warehouse at 933 Gervais Street, just up the block from his previous location. Leon later removed his first name from the store’s branding, changing the name to Bluestein Wholesale Dry Goods Company, or Bluestein Wholesale for short. In 1983, Leon sold the business to his son Bryan (1960-2014), and after Leon’s death in 2000, Bryan and Estelle continued to manage the store together for over a decade. Shortly before the warehouse closed, Joe Turkaly, a local chef, noted that “Everybody in town always came here. Since they buy in bulk, they’re able to take care of the restaurant community in Columbia, and they always have.”1 Bluestein Wholesale closed in 2014, shortly before Bryan died from brain cancer.


1 Dawn Hinshaw, “Illness Forces Vista Landmark to Close,” State, June 6, 2014, A1; A8.

Main Image: Leon Bluestein Wholesale Dry Goods, 1973. Image courtesy of Russell Maxey Photograph Collection, Richland Library, Columbia, SC.


Above Image: Advertisement for Bluestein Wholesale. Reprinted from The State, December 7, 1990.

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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Sylvia Vlosky Yaschik Jewish Studies Center
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