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A family business lives on at 15 8th Avenue

Harry Yormark took over his family’s shoe business at 15 8th Avenue from his uncle Jacob Yormark sometime after 1907.

In September of 2011, Off the Grid reported the discovery of a sign during changes to a storefront at 15 8th Avenue (between West 12th & Jane Streets). The sign, which was made in stained glass, read J. Yormark Shoes. We here at Off the Grid were thrilled to hear from members of the Yormark Family, including Jennifer Weitzner, Ken Yormark, and Renee Yormark Entin, who filled us in about the history of their family’s business. Turns out, they have the larger story and pictures to share.

A stained-glass sign reading "J Yormark Shoes" is discovered during a storefront renovation at 15 8th Avenue.
A stained-glass sign reading “J Yormark Shoes” is discovered during a storefront renovation at 15 8th Avenue.

Renee Yormark Entin fills us in the on story:

In 1886, 17 year old Jacob Yormark immigrated from the Austro-Hungarian Empire (later known as Poland) to the United States, where he and his brother Joseph, who immigrated in 1889 at age 19, opened two shoe stores.  Somewhere between 1892 and 1897, Jacob’s store became “J. Yormark Shoes” at 15 8th Avenue.  Joseph’s store, “J. Yormark Fine Shoes” was located nearby at 68 Clinton Street. Harry Yormark, (Jacob’s and Joseph’s nephew who immigrated to the US in 1907 at age 21 and grandfather of Ken and Renee) eventually took over the 8thAvenue store from his Uncle Jacob, and ran it until it passed out of the family’s hands in the 1940’s, during World War II when it became increasingly difficult to obtain shoes.

The interior of J. Yormark Shoes at 15 8th Avenue.
The interior of J. Yormark Shoes at 15 8th Avenue.

Jennifer, Ken, and Renee were thrilled to see this evidence of the store revealed when Igor’s Barbershop began a renovation of the storefront in 2011. They went directly to the barbershop. Turns out they not only kept the sign, but will be accepting images (the one’s shown here) from the family to be displayed in the store. So come take a look at both the sign over the storefront and the historic pictures in the shop (the presentation will take place after Thanksgiving 2012). And many thanks to Jennifer, Ken, and  Renee for sharing this fascinating piece of Village history and helping J. Yormark Shoes live on.

Joseph Yormark's store J. Yormark Fine Shoes was located at 68 Clinton Street.
Joseph Yormark’s store J. Yormark Fine Shoes was located at 68 Clinton Street.

4 responses to “A family business lives on at 15 8th Avenue

  1. “YORMARK” is an unusual name. To see it in stained glass as a landmark with your great grandfather in the photo is pretty cool. My children have a living, breathing legacy in their own back yard.

  2. Uncovering this history just reminds me of our roots… an American success story. How wonderful that these down-trodden brothers from a dirt road town could come here in the late 1800s knowing no English and with no formal education and start a successful company, earning money to bring over more family members from Europe and enough for their own children to thrive and grow up American, with full opportunity.

    The money earned at this story is directly responsible for me being here today. Jacob & Joseph Yormark’s earnings paid for their sister Rose (my great grandmother) and her children (including my grandma Ruth) to come to the US in the 1920s, just in time before the US closed it’s doors on immigration and the Nazi’s killed the Jews in the town. I am really grateful!
    Jennifer Weitzner

  3. Today, (Nov. 23, 2012) Ken Yormark and many family members will present a compilation of 3 old photos of “J. Yormark Shoes,” complete with history, in a beautifully framed piece to Igor Barber shop around noon at 15 8th Ave.

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