Price Stores has kept Dayton looking sharp for 70 years

The clothing store that opened downtown in 1950 prepares for big move to Centerville.

For 70 years, Price Stores has dressed Daytonians — and a future president — for special occasions.

Larry Zusman and his wife Leonore opened the store in 1950 on the bottom floor of the Garfield Building, once occupied by the Ohio Bell Telephone Company.

Starting out with 391 square feet at Fourth and Jefferson streets, Price Stores quadrupled in size six months later. Zusman purchased the building in 1957, expanding his showrooms to multiple floors in the building.

The store has always kept the city in the latest fashions.

The “complete line of Levi’s” were sold there, according to an advertisement in 1953, the year Marlon Brando would wear a pair — rolled at the cuffs — in “The Wild Ones.”

Customers could find white dinner jackets, cumberbunds and the perfect prom gowns while shopping in the vast formal wear department.

Credit: Dayton Daily News archives

Credit: Dayton Daily News archives

The store even came to the rescue for future president John F. Kennedy.

Running for the Democratic Party nomination, Kennedy was scheduled to speak at the Dayton Bar Association at the Biltmore Hotel in 1959.

The young senator did not realize the event was a black-tie affair.

Price Stores sent over a tailor, who took the senator’s measurements and dressed him for the evening. Several days later, an employee found money in a pocket of the returned tuxedo.

Charles Fidler, an employee at the store, wrote a letter to Kennedy and returned the $105. Kennedy wrote back thanking the men for their honesty and included $25 as a reward.

Credit: Dayton Daily News archives

Credit: Dayton Daily News archives

A copy of Kennedy’s letter hangs in the tuxedo shop on the second floor at Price Stores today.

Zusman tried to stay current while he owned the clothing store. “Offer something distinctive, know what you want and stick to it,” he once told the Dayton Daily News. “Give service and modernize.”

His idea of modernization can still be seen today on the five-story building.

Zusman spent $100,000 in 1972 to cover the brick exterior of the historic building with the bronze-like hue of anodized aluminum.

For decades, Price Stores remained the go-to spot in downtown Dayton for clothing and great service.

The store sold “hi-style and mod” in the 1960s, leisure suits in the ’70s, and smart business attire throughout their history.

Hyman and Natalie Sherman took over the store in 1980 and in 1997 sold it to Edd and Nancy Wimsatt.

The downtown store has closed in preparation for its move and reopening in Centerville.

The five-story Price Stores building has been purchased by Windsor Companies, the developer of the Fire Blocks District, who plans to convert it into new uses.

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