Jay Breslaw was ready for a big night on May 7, 1941.
The Capital Region home furnishings kingpin was opening a new Breslaw’s department store in Schenectady. Mayor Mills Ten Eyck would greet shoppers at 7:30 p.m., and lucky visitors would receive free gifts such as an RCA console radio or an electric mixer.
“We’ve spared no expense to make it one of the finest stores in the entire country and to fit it with quality home furnishings from the leading manufacturers,” Breslaw said in a full-page advertisement in the Schenectady Gazette.
Jay and his 10 siblings were raised in Manhattan. Brother Isadore would enter the fabric industry and become a success with businesses in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. Jay and brother Sam headed north, and began their empire with a small store in Glens Falls in 1907.
The brothers eventually would open department and outlets stores in Albany, Amsterdam, Saratoga Springs, Troy, Gloversville, Mechanicville and Cohoes.
“It was a miniature department store,” said Howard Marwill, 74, of Niskayuna, Jay Breslaw’s grandson and a former store employee and manager.