M. Citron & Co.


Gervais Street
Columbia, SC

FAMILIES: Citron; Bank

M. Citron & Co. was established by Max Citron (1883-1971) in 1904. Max immigrated to the United States from Warsaw, Poland in 1902, and after spending a year in New York, moved south to Columbia in 1903. When he later pictured his first days in the capital city, he recalled “the red mud on Main Street, and the wooden blocks where they had started to pave [the road].”1 In his earliest days in business, Max sold the wares of his dry goods business on foot, by horse and buggy, and then from a Ford Model T before opening a physical location at 1014 Gervais Street in 1910. The following year, he moved down the road to 927 Gervais Street, and in 1911 married Russian immigrant, Rose Siber (1890-1975). Together the couple had two children: Dena (1912-1996) and Louis (1916-1979).


As the Citron family grew, so did Max’s business. In 1920, he relocated M. Citron & Co. to a new two-story building on 1009 Gervais Street where he operated out of one side of the building and Carolina Shoe Co. operated out of the other. At times, the two businesses sold similar merchandise as M. Citron & Co. sold shoes in addition to clothes, furnishings, camp gear, and other dry goods. For decades, Max even placed advertisements for rubber boots and raincoats in both The State and The Columbia Record whenever the forecast called for rain. Despite the friendly competition, Max recalled, “We had the Gervais Street Gang, and I was the president.”2 Functioning as the city’s first credit union, Max and other members of the “Gervais Street Gang” consulted one another when a customer applied for store credit.


In the early 1940s, Max welcomed two members of his own family to the gang when his son, Louis, and his son-in-law, Jules Bank (1912-1996), joined him at M. Citron & Co. Louis briefly took on the role of vice-president before switching to secretary and treasurer when his brother-in-law came on board in 1943. Jules ultimately parted ways with the Citron family business in 1967. Four years later, Max passed away while still serving in his capacity as company president. In the wake of his father’s death, Louis briefly changed the company to Citron Enterprises before closing the Gervais Street storefront in 1974 and focusing instead on factory production.


1 Charles R. Sanders Jr., “Our Columbia,” Columbia Record, November 12, 1957, 6.

2 Sanders, “Our Columbia,” 6.

Main Image: M. Citron & Co. weather forecast. Reprinted from The Columbia Record, June 8, 1944.


Above Image: Newspaper article announcing progress on 1009 Gervais Street. Reprinted from The Columbia Record, January 8, 1920.


Above Image: M. Citron & Co. advertisement. Reprinted from The Columbia Record, August 5, 1925.


Above Image: M. Citron & Co. weather forecast. Reprinted from The State, October 5, 1964.

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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