234 Manitoba Avenue
April 1932 – August 1975 (43 years)
The Epstein’s were well known salesmen on Selkirk Avenue for more than four decades.
Sam Epstein was born in Poland in 1907 and came to Canada in 1926 with his family, including his brothers Sol and Joseph. His future wife, Anne Lubotta was also born in Poland, on July 12, 1908, and came to Winnipeg with her family in in March 1921.
Sam was the first to move to the Selkirk area. He recalled in the Selkirk Enterprise in a retirement article that his first job in town was delivering flyers for a bargain store in 1931. Shortly after, He opened his own store, Sam Epstein Dry Goods, the following April. It was located around 230 Manitoba Avenue.
After Sam and Anne married in Winnipeg on June 23, 1935, they settled in Selkirk to run the store and start a family. They had one son, Barry, who died in 1957, (age unknown).
In 1943, the Epstein’s store was destoyed along with three others by a fire at the Nordal Block. They relocated to 234 Manitoba Avenue and resumed their business. The store evolved and eventually became known as Sam Epstein Clothing and Footwear.
The Epstein’s were well known around the community, volunteering for various events and committees. Sam was particularly active in the local business association and their special events. Sam and his brother Sol were remembered by their humour and charismatic sales techniques to attract customers.
Anne passed away in 1970 and Sam closed the store on July 31, 1975 after 43 years.
As Sam was retiring to Winnipeg, the Selkirk business community held a farewell dinner in his honour. He was presented with numerous gifts, including an honourary citizen scroll by Deputy Mayor Tim Taylor on behalf of Selkirk town council. In his address at the event, Sam said, “No one can buy the recognition given to me tonight. I have and always will remember Selkirk as my home.”
Sam sold the business to Edmund Zygarliski who had formerly worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company’s wholesale department. He renamed the store Zygarliski’s Clothing and Footwear.
Sol Epstein’s Dry Goods
244 Manitoba Avenue
Less is known about Sol Epstein’s dry goods.
Sol and Goldie Epstein, as it appears, lived in Winnipeg for most of the time they operated the store. They weren’t as involved in community organizations as Sam and Anne were so there is very little written about the couple in Selkirk papers over the years.
Being Sam’s brother, he presumably also came from Poland with his family in 1926. His obituaries, including in The Jewish Post, gave nothing away about his background, nor do the local history books. Goldie’s obituary notes that she also came from Poland as a young girl with her family.
The couple married in Winnipeg in September 1939 and had two children Barbara and Bob.
The two brothers had their competing stores, which both specialized in clothing and footwear, at 234 and 244 Manitoba Avenue for nearly 30 years.
The Epsteins closed their dry goods store in February 1974 and Sol died just weeks later on April 10, 1974.
After a going out of business sale, Epstein’s remaining stock was purchased by Frank Morantz, president of S.O.S. department store. On April 13, 1974, he turned over the keys to the store to Fr. Art Seaman, chairman of the committee aiming to build the town’s new swimming pool. The pool fundraising committee would man the store and sell what they could until April 27 when the building had to be emptied with proceeds going to the new facility.
The third brother was Joseph Epstein who died in 1981. His obituary says that he was “a merchant for a great number of years in Manitoba.” Unfortunately, there is no information on him kept in archival records.
There were other Epsteins in Selkirk that don’t appear to have been related. One was William Epstein.
William came to Canada from Germany in 1895 and around 1896 took over a general store on Eveline Street, (one source says it was Capt. William Robinson’s store and another says W. H. Eaton’s Store). He ran it as William Epstein and Sons Departmental Store.
The store’s address in 1958 is listed as 367 Eveline, though that might be a second location as their original store burned in 1927.
A long-time employee, George Tapley, took over the store in 1946, renaming it George Tapley’s Selkirk Pioneer Store, a general goods merchant, and ran it until his retirement in 1966.