Way Back When … 1921
Published 10:46 am, Thursday, November 3, 2016
Fairfield has long been a great place to shop, and life long Fairfield residents fondly recall the Fairfield Department Store, a home-grown retail establishment on the Post Road, in the heart of Fairfield. It was founded in 1921 by brothers Samuel and Isadore Manasevit. The original store primarily carried menswear and work-related apparel to meet the needs of the population, the majority of whom worked in factories.
Isadore’s son, Frank, and Samuel’s son, Stanley, officially entered the business in 1947, just after the store’s expansion in 1947. In the mid-fifties, they assumed control from their fathers. In 1956, the cousins expanded the store, making it the first two-story building in Fairfield. In 1966, the owners changed the name of the store to simply “The Fairfield Store.” Two years later, the store expanded into the former Woolworth’s building and the owners renovated the exterior. They received a Chamber of Commerce citation for the upgrades.
By 1979 the store included the old Center Drug building on the corner of Reef and Post Roads. As the population changed to include more white collar workers who commuted into New York City, Stanley and Frank reflected their customer’s needs in the style of clothing available. The store carried shoes, cosmetics, clothing for the entire family, lingerie, shoes, and gift ware.
Stanley’s son, Bruce, entered the business in 1983 while Frank’s daughter, Deren, joined in 1988. Competition from discount stores forced the Fairfield Store to close July 1996. Through its 75 years of operation, the store was known for its personal service and the longevity of its sales staff; many stayed for 20 to 30 years, helping generations of the same families.
The Fairfield Museum collection contains advertising and promotional materials created and collected by the management of the Fairfield Store. One of the store’s most successful promotions was “Freddie the Frog,” whose images and memorabilia are part of the collection. Photographs, both professional and amateur, documenting the store’s interior and exterior changes, special events, and holiday displays from 1942-1993, are also in the collection.
In keeping with the theme of shopping, the Fairfield Museum invites all members of the community to its fundraiser this weekend, the 3rd annual Holiday Pop-Up Market. The event takes place Friday 12 to 4 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A suggested donation of $5 includes a raffle ticket for prizes supplied by the many vendors.
Learn more about the history and culture of Fairfield, view rotating exhibitions and purchase Fairfield-themed gifts at the Fairfield Museum and History Center, 370 Beach Road. (203) 259-1598; Fairfieldhistory.org. The Museum and Museum Shop are open daily, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.