Hirshberg’s Big Store
Hirshberg’s Big Store was established in 1897 in Pigeon, Michigan by Abraham Hirshberg, Joel's great grandfather. This was the day when a dime would buy a pound of coffee; fine granulated sugar was 5.5¢/lb.; a can of Arm & Hammer baking soda cost a nickel; and 10 bars of Etna Soap sold for a total of 25¢.
Having emigrated from Russia with his wife Dina and sons just a few years earlier, Abraham’s immigrant English was far from perfect. His message of service and value, however, was always clear. An 1898 ad in the Pigeon Progress newspaper read, "Every department is filled with the Choicest Goods to be had in the market at lowest prices ever known here.” His reminder to shoppers: “Bring all your butter and eggs" for trade.
A new building in 1900
The upcoming "Grand Opening" for a new building was announced in 1900. The Progress ad read, "No one can afford to miss this great opportunity to see the most up-to-date store in the county."
Apparently few did miss it! The April 27, 1900 newspaper reported on the grand opening; it said, “On a very few occasions in the history of Pigeon has as many people visited our town. It is estimated that as many as two thousand people from different parts of the county came to our village to do buying."
Hirshberg's advertised the "largest stock in Huron County — dry goods, clothing, carpets, clocks, millinery, shoes, groceries, crockery and wallpaper." Abraham and his sons also sold hardware; then, beginning in 1909, they added Hirshberg's Furniture Store a block away that included items from sofas to pianos. The Hirshberg slogan was "Everything for the Family."
By 1901 the Huron County Republican reported that, "The new store of A. Hirshberg & Son at Pigeon is undoubtedly the best arranged and most complete in all its departments. The establishment has a thoroughly metropolitan air from the spacious shop windows, tastefully dressed, to the cashier's desk where the cash carrier system ends..." The cash carrier system transported money from the checkout counter to the cashier; she/he made change and sent the money back to the clerk at the counter.
The pride of Pigeon, Michigan
Pigeon was quite pleased with A. Hirshberg & Son. The local newspaper printed a pen and ink drawing of the new building in 1901 and said, "The Progress takes particular pride in pointing out the splendid building and business conducted by A. Hirshberg & Son, because their establishment does much credit to the push and enterprise of the Pigeon people and demonstrates beyond doubt that the town has a splendid future before it.
"The people have the fullest faith, both in the firm's goods, their claims as to quality and their other generally fair methods of doing business, and in consequence they enjoy an unusually large and growing trade…
"Again the Progress repeats, the house of Hirshberg & Son is a credit both to Pigeon and its owners, and that it may long flourish and grow and prosper is the wish of all our people...".
From the 19th century to the 21st century
Joel, Joy and Aaron Hirshberg — and everyone we work with — warmly welcome you to Green Building Supply. We started our current chapter of the Hirshberg family business tradition in 1991, not knowing the history of Abraham and Dina Hirshberg; we only recently learned of their inspiring story.
May you enjoy sharing our present-day adventure where we offer “Everything green for the home builder.”
Copyright ©2009 Joy Hirshberg All rights reserved.
Photos courtesy of the Pigeon Historical Society, Pigeon, Michigan