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A landmark business in the downtown area is celebrating an important anniversary — 80 years in business. No one could be more pleased than Ricky Leinwand, owner/operator of Leinwand's.
Isaac Leinwand immigrated to the United States from Austria in 1907. Before coming to Elizabethtown, Leinwand first settled in Branchville, S.C.
Isaac Leinwand was not the only one operating a clothing store though — his brother Moses Leinwand had earlier opened a business in Reidsville.
The original Elizabethtown store measured 19-by-67 feet and was a “farmers store.” It sold an array of household goods and clothing. Less than two years after opening the store, Isaac Leinwand moved the store two doors down into what is now the men’s department.
Shortly after the move, a fire destroyed several businesses along with Leinwands store. With the help of his brother, Leinwand rebuilt his store and it re-opened in 1939.
in 1947, Ricky Leinwand’s father Wallace took over the business. Wallace Leinwand married Shirley Gintel and they became primary partners in running the store. Isaac Leinwand continued to have an active role in the business until about 1970.
Ricky Leinwand calls his mother the real key to the business.
“Another key to the success was daddy got involved in the community and eventually became mayor,” Ricky said.
Ricky Leinwand has followed his father’s advice on becoming involved in the community. He serves on the town council and is involved in many community service groups. He’s also one of the voices of East Bladen High Eagles football, and has been for years.
“We were the only Jewish family in the county and this community has been good us to us. It wasn’t always easy, but getting involved made it easier,” said Leinwand.
He added that he has gotten to know many of his customers very well over the years and that personalized service helps keep his customers returning to the store.