This is the history of a former retail store located in New York’s garment district, known as Greenberg Hammer. Greenberg – Hammer was formed as a partnership in 1919. The partners were Benjamin Hammer and Abraham Greenberg. The two partners were related with Mr. Hammer being the nephew of Mr. Greenberg although they were only three years apart in age.
The partnership was instigated by Mr. Hammer’s mother who was a very prominent dressmaker who went under the name of Mme. Hammer. She needed a reliable source for lining materials and sewing notions to supply her large workshop.
The first location for Greenberg & Hammer was a store at 1310 Sixth Ave in New York City. The store was a long and very narrow ground floor establishment located between 52nd and 53rd Streets. Custom dressmaking and tailoring were very popular in those days. Upper middle-class women had their clothes made for them as the ready-to-wear industry had not yet been developed.
The store mainly carried linings in both silk and rayon, muslin for patterns, threads, snaps, hooks and eyes, braids, and trimmings. Buttons were not a big fashion item in those days since the plastic industry had not yet come in to its own. Retail off the street business was almost non-existent as most of the sewing was done by professionals.
In 1927 the partnership form of ownership was changed to corporate ownership and the firm became Greenberg & Hammer, Inc. The store remained at the 1310 location until l942 when it moved to a larger store one block north at 1326 Sixth Ave., between 53rd and 54th streets.
By that time the industry had changed and custom made clothing was no longer as important as it once was. Ready-to-wear and the home sewer became a more important part of the business. Department stores had alteration rooms where dozens of people were employed in the process of altering the ready-to-wear women’s and men’s clothing. Servicing these alteration rooms in the uptown and upscale department stores became a major part of the business. Fast service was paramount. Orders that were taken in the morning were delivered in afternoon of the same day.
In December of 1949, Daniel Hammer who is the son of Benjamin Hammer joined the firm as an employee. In 1952 he produced the first mail order catalog. This catalog was crude by today’s standards and only contained a small portion of the store’s items. Distribution was limited, but it was the start of the firm’s mail-order business.
In 1959 Abraham Greenberg retired and sold his 50% portion of the business to Daniel Hammer who then became co-owner with his father. In l962, the firm received notice that the 1326 building was being demolished to make way for the American Broadcasting Company building. After much searching and many sleepless nights, a new location at 24 west 57th street (between 5th and 6th avenues) was found and the move took place over thanksgiving week end in 1962.
In 1966 Mr. Benjamin Hammer passed away and under the terms of his will , his 50% share of the business was given to Daniel Hammer who then became the sole owner.
In 1985 Frank Piazza joined the firm as an employee. Mr. Piazza undertook the expansion of the catalog business . New and enlarged catalogs were produced. Mailing lists were acquired and the catalog business began to flourish .
In 1998 Daniel Hammer retired and Mr. Piazza became the sole owner of Greenberg & Hammer, Inc. Recently, Greenberg and Hammer has become just a web resource dedicated to the sewing, costumes and notions industry.