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Mary Sachs Early Life

Mary Sachs was a Russian-born immigrant who was only four years old when she came to America in 1892 with her mother, Fanny Rhoads Sachs, and two siblings, Sarah and Emma. The family found husband and father Wolf Sachs in Renovo, a town in the lumber and coal region of northern Pennsylvania. Wolf Sachs was a peddler and shop owner who had immigrated four years before the rest of his family. Around 1900, the Sachs family moved to Baltimore where Lena, Esther, Morris, Yetta, and Hannah were born.

After spending a short time in Baltimore, Mary Sachs moved to Steelton where she worked first in a candy shop and then in an installment store where she was promoted and eventually made manager. After several moves, the rest of the Sachs family joined her in the Harrisburg area around 1916.

Mary Sachs Princess of Philanthropy

Mary’s success and generosity earned her the reputation of being a great philanthropist. She gave money to many charitable organizations, many of which encouraged those who shared her Jewish faith. She was vice president of the Jewish Community Center in Harrisburg. Sachs served as the co-founder of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in New York and generously donated to Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scouts of America and many other organizations.  Throughout her lifetime Mary Sachs sought new ways to contribute to the community that was the cornerstone of her success. After meeting her at several charity events, Eleanor Roosevelt found in Mary Sachs “a philosophy that filled me with admiration.” Since her death, the Mary Sachs Trust has continued Miss Sachs’ honorable tradition of giving. The latest initiative is a significant college scholarship award for up to four young women in the tri-county area who will be majoring in fashion design, retailing, or general business. 

“Few can ever match her generosity.”

- Eleanor Roosevelt, the country’s first lady and a good friend

Mary Sachs Harrisburg Merchant Princess

Merchant Princess

1908
1908

Mary Sachs First Retail Job

Mary Sachs First Retail Job

Mary Sachs first worked at Kaufman’s Department Store on the southwest corner of S. 2nd and Market Streets on Market Square.

 

1910
1910

Mary Goes to William B. Schleisner Store

Mary Goes to William B. Schleisner Store

Mary worked at the William B. Schleisner Store from 1910 to1918. The store was located on the NW corner of N. 3rd and Strawberry Streets.

1918
1918

Mary Leaves William B. Schleisner Store

Mary Leaves William B. Schleisner Store

In 1918 Mary announced her departure from William B. Schleisner Store in order to go into business for herself by opening a women’s clothing store.

1918

Mary Opens First Store

Mary Opens First Store

Harry and Leon Lowengard, publishers of the Courier Press, took a chance with Mary Sachs and rented her the first floor of the Lowengard Building at 210 N. 3rd Street for her first store in 1918. With sales of over $200,000 in its first year, the shop quickly became one of Harrisburg’s premier retail locations.

1920
1920

Mary Expands Store

Mary Expands Store

In 1920, Mary Sachs acquired the former Judge Weiss Mansion next door at 208 N. 3rd Street to expand her store.

1921
1921

Lancaster Store Opens

Mary Sachs opens her Lancaster location in 1921. (We are seeking pictures of the Lancaster store, please contact us if you have one).

1923
1923

Reading Store Opens

Mary Sachs opens her Lancaster location in 1923. (We are seeking pictures of the Reading store, please contact us if you have one).

1925
1925

Mary Brings European and NYC Fashion to Harrisburg

Mary Brings European and NYC Fashion to Harrisburg

Beginning in 1925, she traveled at least once a year to Europe with one of her sisters, Hannah or Yetta, to observe the latest trends in fashion. She also made weekly trips to New York to visit clothing manufacturers. Her decision not to deal with Harrisburg salesmen assured her customers that their dress would always be unique.

1931
1931

Fire Strikes

Fire Strikes

On February 11, 1931, a fire destroyed the Mary Sachs store that she acquired in 1920.  Mary decided to rebuild in the same location and posted a letter to her customers promoting her new store.  She was well known for informative and enticing newspaper advertisements as well as other marketing innovations.

1932
1932

New Store Opens

New Store Opens

Mary Sachs enlisted the Harrisburg architectural firm of Lawrie and Green to design her new store which was executed in the Renaissance Revival- style, one and a half stories in height at the time, and opened in 1932 with 21 departments.

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Digital History Project Sponsored by:

The Mary Sachs Charitable Trust
Created for the Mary Sachs Charitable Trust. © Copyright 2021. All Rights Reserved.

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