Fonds JPL006 - Steinberg/Rafman Families Fonds

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Steinberg/Rafman Families Fonds

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  • 1906-1990 (Creation)

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0.05m of textual records. 28 photographs

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Biographical history

Hyman Rafman The son of Max Rafman and Sarah Rabinovich, Hyman Rafman was born on November 20, 1906. On June 4, 1939, he married Lily Steinberg. He passed away on January 31, 1974. Lily Rafman (nee Steinberg) The daughter of Vilmos Sternberg (later known as William Steinberg) and Ida Roth, Lily Steinberg was born in 1909. As a child, she helped her mother run the family business (Steinberg's Stores). In 1931, after her brother Sam had taken over the family business, she and her mother started up a small shop on Monkland Street in Montreal, where she worked and lived until her marriage in 1939. She and Hyman Rafman had four children, Sandra, Nancy, Marlene and Mark. Steinberg's Ida Roth was born in 1884. In 1902, she married William Steinberg (an arranged marriage). They had six children: Jack (1903), Sam (1905), Nathan (1908), Lily (1909), Max (1912), and Morris (1914). After asking William to leave (not common at the time, but not unheard of), Ida started a small grocery store in 1917 in order to provide for her family. It was on St. Lawrence Boulevard in Montreal, and was quite successful. All family members helped out around the store, but young Sam Steinberg quickly emerged as a retail prodigy. He began opening new stores around Montreal. In 1930, he incorporated the company, calling it "Steinberg's Service Stores Ltd." The first self-service outlet was opened in 1933, and a "Wholesale Grocereria" (offering limited service but drastically-discounted prices) opened its doors in 1934. There was a great expansion in the 1950s, where Steinberg's opened up many outlets all over the province, not just in Montreal. Troubles for the grocery chain began in 1959. Sam attempted to expand into the Ontario market, but the venture was a disaster. In the 1960s, he broadened into discount department stores (Miracle Mart), but his experience in the food industry was apparently non-transferable into the world of clothing retail, and it proved to be a loser as well. In 1966, Steinberg's opened a few stores in France, but once again, the experience was a costly one. In 1969, Sam stepped down as President of the company, and appointed his son-in-law, Mel Dobrin, to take his place. He stayed quite active as Chairman and Chief Executive up until his death in 1978. Upon his death, Mel Dobrin took over the reins as Chairman and Chief Executive, and the position of President was, for the first time in the company's history, given to a non-family member, Peter McGoldrick. After seventeen months, McGoldrick retired, after having spearheaded a disastrous five-percent discount campaign that lost the company millions. Irving Ludmer was to replace him. His tenure would prove to be quite successful and profitable. However, he had a number of disagreements with Sam?s eldest daughter, Mitzi Dobrin, which would prove to be problematic. In 1985, Mitzi, then an Executive Vice-President at Steinberg's, quit her position. Soon after, she began looking around for a buyer for the family business, much to the dismay of her sisters. What followed was years of disputes between the women, including an attempt by Marilyn and Evelyn to take over the company. After a number of purchase offers from outside bidders, a Quebec buyer, Michel Gaucher acquired the company in 1989.

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Scope and content

The Fonds consists of correspondence with Lily Rafman (nee Steinberg), her wedding notes, her journal pages, a number of legal documents, some newspaper clippings and stock certificates about Steinberg's, and family photographs. There are three series present within the Fonds. Series I covers Lily Rafman?s personal papers. It includes correspondence. Series II is in regards to Steinberg?s store. Series III contains photographs of both the Rafman and the Steinberg families.

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  • French

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