Staten Island Web logo

Garber Brothers Store Robert Sheridan bobsheridan Garber Brothers was a department store, as opposed to a store I worked in, across the street, called Archie Jacobson's, which sold men's clothes.

Garberbrothers, pronounced as one word, had a shoe department, a suit department, a shirt department, men's, women's, and kids' stuff, sorta like Macy's is today.

What I think makes a department store different from a store like Archie's, which also sold men's suits, shirts, sweaters, ties, etc., was that in a department store the departments were leased out to individual sub-proprietors who specialized in the items listed. The guy who owned the building collected rent, probably based on floorspace and a percentage of sales. At least this is how I think it works.

Archie's, which used to be down Richmond Avenue from Garber's, but later moved across the street, excuse me, Avenue, was operated by Archie's son's, Paul, Irv(?), & I forget the other guy's name.

I used to work there over Christmas and Easter while at Wagner. It was my first job selling anything. Turned out if someone asked me what kind of necktie to get their husband, boyfriend, parent, or son, I could usually suggest something. There were two racks, then, the $2.50 rack and, for big spenders, the $3.50 rack.

Irv, it was, if recollection serves, taught me and a couple of other saleskids how to sell men's hats, fedoras.

"There are two types of fedoras," he said, "the inexpensive kind with no lining inside the crown," showing the brand name embossed into the fabric of the crown, and the more expensive kind, with a white satin lining, with the manufacturer's name on it, covered with some sort of a plastic lining.

"When you show someone a hat, if it's the expensive kind with the nice lining, present the hat to them crown down, so they see the fancy lining first." They get to see how well the inside is made, pure luxury, justifying the higher price.

"If someone asks to see one of the cheaper models, without the lining, present the hat with the crown up, so they see the top, with the ribbon around the outside of the crown, and the feather."

I was impressed. Of course this is the better way to show hats. You'll make more sales this way.

"There's one other thing about hat's," Irv then said,
"Whenever you help a man select a hat and he tries it on, there's something about it that makes every customer in the store stop what they're doing and watch the man put on the hat. If it doesn't fit, they laugh. Could be too small and sit on the top of his head, like Wimpy, or it could come down over his ears,like Goofy. Whichever, they all get a big laugh."

"So what you want to do when helping a man with a new hat is to ask him what size his last hat was. That way you can help him pick out a size that won't make the whole store burst out laughing when it doesn't fit."

"Man, this guy really knows his business," I thought, "I'm gonna remember that for when some guy comes in and asks me to help him with a hat, so the whole store doesn't start laughing at him."

About a week goes by and finally I get my chance to help a middle-aged guy from outer StatNisland who comes in to replace his thirty year old hat, which he probably thinks is as good as new, but his wife wants him to get a new one.

"What size do you want," I ask him, remembering Irv's advice about not making the whole store stare and burst out laughing when he tries on the hat and it comes down over his ears.

"I dunno," Mr. StatNisland says, "let me try one on."

"Okay," I say, "how about this one, it looks like it might fit," presenting it to him the right way so he sees the nice lining, and then turning it so he can lift it to put over his head.

But then I was conscious that all the customers in the store are now supposed to be looking, if what Irv said was true.

So, I peeked, and sure enough, there were people looking.

And I wasn't sure I guessed right on the size.

So I carefully watch the man trying to fit into the hat. It's a little small. It's kinda sitting up on top of his head, like Wimpy.

I start laughing myself. I can't stop. He doesn't know why I'm laughing, except I've got tears in my eyes and can't contain myself.

I'm the only one in the store laughing; no one knows why.

There's no moral to this story.

There's no moral to my whole life.

All I can say is that if you're helping a guy try on hats in a store, you'd better be looking the other way at the moment of truth or you're going to kill the sale.


I wuz working Archie's when I got my acceptance to law school. Big day for the kid. Still remember it. My ticket offa da Rock. No more sellin' neckties and socks after someone comes in just lookin' for a hankie.

Turns out talking to juries is a lot like talking to customers in a menswear store.

It's all helping people make the right choice.

Some people call it selling.


Staten Island WebŪ Forums Index.