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A landmark business in Downtown Elizabethtown, Leinwand’s will be celebrating its 85th year. Founder Isaac Leinwand immigrated to the United States from Austria in 1907, and 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 X 67 feet and was a farmer’s store. 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 1970 when he passed away.
Current owner Ricky Leinwand said “one of the keys to our success is that when my grandfather Isaac came here, he spoke broken English, he didn’t drive, and he was from the old school. Being the only Jewish family in Bladen County, even though we were a different religion and culture, we mixed in very well. I think the key is that we got involved with the community and didn't just hang out with our own people.”
Ricky also said “my dad Wallace Leinwand was Mayor of Elizabethtown, and he was a Shriner for 50 years and a Mason for 60 years. He also has a park named after him. I currently serve on the city council and, our family has been president of every civic club in Bladen County. So it was one of those things that we didn’t hide; we gave back and were proud of that.”
Presently, Ricky and his wife Eileen own Leinwand’s. Ricky and Eileen have two children, Michael and Erica, and three grandchildren, Adam, Penelope, and Theodore. Michael and Erica grew up in the store, and both went to the University of North Carolina just like their parents. Michael, the fourth generation, currently works in the family store. Ricky said it’s a good thing to have Michael working with them as he is great at the bookwork, computers, and social media while Ricky still enjoys the outside work of meeting and interacting with customers.
Since Ricky graduated college in the 1974, the business has transformed from having 99% of its customers inside the county to less than 20% today. We are really proud of this transformation as we continue to expand our brands to attract people from Fayetteville, Lumberton, Clinton, Whiteville, and other bigger towns that surround Elizabethtown and White Lake. The change is attributed to the ease of advertising in a broad market and that they pride themselves on being able to offer more brand names for every member of the family under one roof than any other store in North Carolina.
“This town and county has been very good to us, and we feel like we have brought very nice clothes and apparel to Bladen County. We continue to shop in the greatest markets, and buy direct and receive very best prices.” said Ricky Leinwand.Leinwand’s is open Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and by special appointment. Our friendly staff, including an onsite seamstress, is always here to help meet your wardrobe needs.