This presentation is part of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society Oral History Project. It was recorded in 1983. Mr. Glick speaks about the history of the Glick family and the family businesses founded by his grandfather. Of special interest are his stories of some innovative and altruistic business practices of his father, Frank Glick.
Our grandfather, Adolph Glick, had a wagon with dry goods back in 1860 and he used to travel Ohio and stop in the small towns to sell his wares and he got married and he brought his bride with him – she traveled with him in the wagon. She was pregnant with my father, who was the oldest of four children. When she was ready to deliver my father, the baby, they were in Fort Recovery, Ohio, and that’s where my father was born in 1876.
And then they decided that since they had a baby they couldn’t travel any more. I don’t know the details, but somehow he opened up a little dry goods store because he couldn’t travel, and he started a family. He opened up a dry goods store in LaRue, Ohio, he finally he had one in Ridgewood, Ohio, and then he had – or my grandparents had three
more children – they had a daughter named Anna, and then a second son which is my Uncle Isadore Glick, who married Helen Gundersheimer many years later. The fourth child was Frances.
Also, as a little background, my grandfather – I don’t know exactly where he came from in Europe, but it was part of Germany or Austria, and my grandmother, Rosa and I can’t pronounce her maiden name, [Studnicka, (MB)] but I think she came – her family came – she was born in New York, but her family came from Czechoslovakia, I believe. But then, as they grew up in these small towns, there were no Jewish families and my grandparents were quite concerned about their daughter. They didn’t worry about their sons, but they were concerned about their daughters meeting Jewish boys.
As a _______ , they taught their religion at home, but they lived in cities that had no Jews whatsoever, and my father graduated from the Methodist Sunday School in one of those small towns – I think in Ridgewood, Ohio, and incidentally, he graduated first in his class. But they taught the Old testament so he learned the old testament, and of course, he learned the rest of it at home.
But when the daughters became of marriageable age, became 18, my grandfather took the risk of coming to Columbus, Ohio, which was the closest community that had a Jewish family or a Jewish group of people. That was about 1898. He took the bull by the horns, closed the stores and moved to Columbus and opened a dry goods store similar to what he
had in small towns, called The Climax, on Mt. Vernon Avenue. And at that time, the turn of the century, the railroaders all lived there. It was a neighborhood of middle class Americans that catered to the railroad workers, and they were his customers.
So after the family moved to Columbus, of course they joined Temple Israel and then my grandfather was on the board back at the turn of the century. Their girls, my aunts, met Jewish boys, and the oldest, Anna, married a fellow named Edgar Gold, who was from Milwaukee, but he was working in Columbus at a furniture store called May & Company, that was owned by Leo Marks, and got engaged and married my aunt.
So my grandfather, in an effort to do something for his daughter and
son – in – law, and since his son – in – law knew about the furniture
business, he decided to open up a furniture store and put his son – in –
law in there, but to tell you the truth, he was a little afraid to do it
without his own family in there, so he asked my father, Frank Glick, who
was traveling on the road at the time selling pants for somebody – it
wasn’t Hercules – it wasn’t Jack Resler but it was somebody else, he
then went into the furniture business with his brother – in – law. That
was in 1907 is when the furniture store was established. It was owned by
my grandfather, but my father, and his brother – in – law ___
The furniture store’s first name was Arch City Furniture, because
Columbus was known as the Arch City, and all High Street, there was
arches (fixtured as street lights.) all the way up and down, but the
store was on Long Street at 65 East Long Street, between, of course,
High and Third, and it was there until 1970 or 1972, I believe. It was
the original store. Of course, it grew right in the same spot. It was
only a 20 foot wide store by about 150 foot deep – that’s all it was
when he started.
And then oh, I don’t know what happened, over a period of time, he
separated – my uncle – in – law, Edgar Gold, left the city and went to
Philadelphia and went in the furniture business, and so my father was
running the furniture company. And then, my uncle Isadore, after my
grandfather died in the early 1920’s or late teens, my father, Frank,
ran the furniture store, and my Uncle Izzy ran the clothing store on Mt.
Vernon Avenue. Of course, it was all owned by the four children.
So they decided to split up, and my father traded his interest in the
clothing store to his brother, and his brother, Izzy, gave my father his
25% interest in the furniture store, and that’s how he ended up having
the furniture business. And then, some years later, my brother and I,
after our father died many years later, we bought our aunts out back in
Now we’re up to the next generation – which is our generation, my
brother’s and mine – and just as a matter of record, my father’s
name was Frank A. Glick, and my brother’s name was Robert A. Glick,
named after his grandfather. My name is William L. Glick, and I got my
name – from my – I forgot to tell you that my grandmother had a child
that died at birth – or shortly after-
an infant, and they had named him William, and I ended up being named
after my – this baby uncle. That happened way back in the early days.
When my brother and I took over the operation of the business after
World War II, after we both came back from the service, (we both spent
five years in the army,) and then our uncle, Isadore was the general
manager, although he had no interest in the company because he had
traded with his brother many years before, after my father died in the
early 30’s they needed a Glick to be in the business, and our advisor,
Ed Schanfarber, advised to close the Climax Clothing Store, because it
was during the Depression and things were very bad.
So it gave him a job and it also was good for the furniture company.
The name, Glick Furniture, they changed it from Arch Furniture sometime
after in the early, like in 1914 or something like that, when the
arches came down in the downtown.
So after our uncle died in the late 40s, my brother and I took over
the business and started to expand. We opened up the Northern Lights
Shopping Center store in 1955. It was the first suburban furniture store
anywhere in Ohio that was a branch store, because most all other stores
in those days were just one store – there was no suburban – type store.
It was so successful, and Don Casto was building shopping centers, so
he asked us to join him the next year with a store in Great Western
Shopping Center that he was building with Skilken, and so we did. We
still had our downtown store on Long Street. We opened our store a few
years later at Town and Country, right across East Broad Street from the
Town and Country Shopping Center. We were in that store for many years
and then when the malls started to be built, oh we decided that there
was no need to build any more stores in Columbus at that time, so we
expanded outside of Columbus and opened a store in Chillicothe, Ohio, in
a shopping center there, and then a few years later we opened a store in
And then the day of the big malls came into being and we decided we
could no longer just stay in Northern Lights in the north end, and we
opened up our Morse Road store in 1972. And then a year later we had the
same problem of Eastland Shopping Center opening up, and if we wanted to
be near that shopping center, we opened up a second Showcase store,
which were much larger stores, in the following year, I think it was
1974 or 1973, right in the middle of the Depression that we were having
at that time.
But then we decided that having the two stores on the east side was
not convenient, so we closed the Town and Country Store that was on East
And then we decided we needed a much larger warehouse than we had on
Naghten Street. As a matter of fact, as a matter of history, the
building which houses the Restaurant 55 on Nationwide Blvd, was our
warehouse during the 30s and 40s, when the name of the street was
Naghten Street. We sold that and opened up a warehouse on East Fifth
Avenue where, at that time, there was railroad siding, because in those
days we got most of our merchandise shipped in carloads from the
railroads. We of course, no longer use railroads nowadays, everyone uses
trucks, but at that time –
Then we opened up an outlet store shortly after that in the front of
our warehouse, Then we closed our downtown store on East Long Street,
and moved our general offices out to the warehouse on Fifth Avenue, and
built on to it and built offices as well.
I understand you’d like some anecdotes about what happened to the
Glick Furniture Company over the years – one of the things that made our
company so successful, and grow quickly and move ahead and become the
leading furniture company, was in 1913 there was a flood. There was a
flood in Columbus, in the bottoms on the west side, all flooded out and
thousands of people were left homeless. Their houses were flooded, the
furniture was ruined, and a lot of those people were customers of our
company and my father ran an ad in the newspaper to make an announcement
to all the good customers, to consider their bill paid in full,
because they lost it all in the flood, and as soon as they got back on
their feet, to come in and pick out some more furniture, and we’d
refinance the new purchase.
That gesture was so notarized, and it spread throughout the city,
what the Glick Furniture Company did for its customers, that it just
zoomed our business tremendously the next few years and we passed
everybody standing still because we had my father had made that offer
and actually did that.
Well, he did that because he felt so sorry for these people that lost
everything and still owed for all their furniture, and he also
altruistically realized that they would need new furniture, and
hopefully they would come to Glick’s and buy their furniture, which
they did, and told all their friends and neighbors as well, who were not
in the flood.
So he then – all those years the Glick Furniture Company never had a
sale, never had a comparative price, never had a clearance. But in 1926,
when the store was 19 years old, he decided he had – he had excess
inventory, and how could he have a sale? He couldn’t have a sale, but
how was he going to move the merchandise?
So he got the brilliant idea that it was our birthday, we were 19
years old, but he’d give the present, and the present was, that if you
came in during our – that period, and he called it the “19% Bonus
Event,” in which you got 19% of your purchase in additional home
furnishings, and of course the additional home furnishings hopefully
would be he had excess of that he would like to have sold, but was
having a difficult time.
Well, it was a very successful promotion, without reducing a price,
without having a sale. Way back, of course, the Glick Furniture Company
gave Credit to people to buy furniture, because many of the people were
first generation Americans. They were immigrants. They had no credit
rating, they had no way, but they had a good job. So my father would
trust them to pay for the furniture so much a week -like $2 a week, or
whatever they could afford to pay. And that’s how the credit furniture
business started. Of course, in those days, there was no such thing as
interest, and they didn’t even – then, later on, there was what we
called a “carrying charge,” but that was not until much later
He always had the policy to be very liberal with the customers and
way back when people used to take advantage of customers, he always had
the policy that they had to be satisfied. If they didn’t like the
furniture, they could always come back and exchange it or return it,
because he just felt that was the way to do business. And he didn’t
concern himself with the consequences of the loss or markdown, he just
felt that was the way, and that, of course, continually helped our
business grow, and we always carried our own accounts, and do, to this
day. We do not, they do not buy from us and have to pay a finance
company or a bank. They pay Glick’s, so they know they are dealing
with us, and if they have any problem and they can’t make a payment,
we work with them.
And so that’s been our policy all these years. The other thing – so
that was the 19% bonus which we ran for many, many years. And of course,
one of the things in a furniture store is, you don’t get traffic
unless the party is in the market for furniture, people don’t buy
furniture that often. So my father came up, in the 20’s, with the idea
of a daily special. He used to take a housewares item, and this was long
before discount stores or anything like that – so he would take a
houseware item and sell it below cost.
An example would be a mixing bowl set that if you bought it in those
days, you had to buy it in a hardware store, and say, they would charge
you 79 cents for the mixing bowls, for a set of three, but say it cost
40 cents. Well, my father would advertise it for 39 cents, cash and
carry and “one to a customer” with a coupon from the
newspaper. This was before anyone else ever heard of coupons. Every day
he had a different item, and he used to bring traffic in as high as
2,000 in a day – would come in for these items, because they knew it was
a value. And also, you’d say, well, why would anybody, just to save 40
cents, come clear downtown? Well, that’s because the streetcar was 6
cents! So it wasn’t so expensive for them to go on a streetcar, come
down to Long Street to get that item, because they still saved quite a
bit. That also helped our business tremendously, because once they were
in the store, they knew where it was and when they were in the market
for furniture, they knew where our store was. And he did that – we
discontinued that not until I think it was the early 1940s when there
were shortages and problems of – people would not go to that much
trouble to save 50 cents on an item. So it wasn’t practical.
Of course, gasoline rationing came into effect, so nobody was going
to drive clear downtown to buy a housewares item.
So that, basically – then, of course, we changed to become more of a
conventional store where we had sales, we had clearances and things,
because my brother and I figured our father was a genius. He did all
those things without us but we weren’t smart enough to know how to do
it, and, of course, the world changed so we changed with it. But
fortunately, we had a wonderful reputation to build on, so we were able
to build it on that basis.
My brother and I of course got married and had children and we all
had, we both had three daughters. So we had no one and no sons to come
into the business, but fortunately, my daughter, Ruth Ann, married
Ronald Blank. And I talked – he was a buyer with Shoe Corporation of
America and I talked him into coming to work at Glick’s, because I
thought we could use some of the family in the business. He is now
General Manager, and runs the company, so that’s the next generation.
And incidentally, a little future thing that might happen: his son,
my grandson is getting his Master’s degree in Marketing, with the
thesis on Furniture, at Michigan State University, and hopefully some
day he might join the company, and that will be the sixth generation.
A little personal family background –
My wife is Sally Madison, who is a niece of Lou and Jean Madison. I
met her when she was living with her aunt and uncle on Preston Road in
Columbus. We have three children – our oldest daughter is Ruth Ann
Blank, who is the present president of the Jewish Center, the first
woman president, and my second daughter is Nancy Bitton. She’s married
to Dr. Gabriel Bitton, who is a French – Moroccan Jew from Marrakech,
Morocco, which she met in Canada. He is a professor at the University of
Florida, and teaches microbiology to graduate students. My third
daughter is Jody Altschule and she is married to Joel Altschule, who is
a stockbroker with Shearson, Lehman, Hutton.
As for my brother, he has three daughters. His eldest daughter,
Carole Dorskind lives in San Francisco. Her husband is an architect. His
second daughter is Marilyn Courter, and she lives with her daughter in
Tucson, Arizona . She went to the University of Arizona and never came
back and his youngest daughter is Marcia Glick, and she lives in
Connecticut. She’s not married.
Of course my brother, Robert, is married to Ruth Rosenstock from
Omaha, Nebraska, which he met during the war. I had mentioned much
earlier about an uncle, Edgar Gold, who was in the furniture business –
well, that was Ruth’s great – uncle. She was related both ways – she
met – through a mutual cousin she met my brother that’s how they met
before they got married because a cousin of hers was also a cousin of
My brother Robert, things he’s involved in – in the Furniture
business he was past president of the National Home Furnishings
Association back in the 50s and 60s, and he’s a past president of the
Columbus Historical Society. He is past president of the Temple Israel
Foundation, he’s the incoming president of Heritage Village and he’s
past active in the Chamber of Commerce and also The United Way.
He’s got other honors too numerous to mention. He was on the Mayor’s
Commission, back in Sensenbrenner’s day. He’s got ’em in his
office – he’s got a lot more.
As for myself, I’m past president of Temple Israel and past
president of Jewish Family Service, secretary of the Columbus Jewish
Foundation, and past vice – president of United Way and I believe there’s
a few other things but that’s the main things I’ve done. I also was
a campaign chairman for the Columbus Jewish Federation in 1966, so I don’t
know what the future brings, but I do know that we have a viable Jewish
community, we have a viable general community, and hopefully the Glick
Furniture Company will continue to be successful and a leader in the
community and hopefully our children will continue to be active and
responsible for their place in the Jewish community.
My father died in 1931, in the midst of the Depression and of course
business was very poor, and very bad and our attorney was E. J.
Schanfarber. I was 11 years old , my brother was 15. My mother was not a
business woman. He was sort of advising her and he said, “You can
do two things. You can do one or two things. Your husband died but he
left a big insurance policy that you can live on comfortably for
probably the rest of your life, if you’re careful. And forget the
business, just close it because business is terrible and it needs
capital to keep going. Or, you can take part of your insurance money and
put it back into the business so it doesn’t fail. Now you have to
E. J. Schanfarber told my mother that she’d have to make that
decision – he couldn’t make it for her. And she decided that if her
husband worked all those years to build that business, that she felt she
owed it to put the money back in the business to save it for his sons,
so when they grew up they’d have a business to go into, because he had
worked so hard over all those years.
So my mother knew that she wasn’t a business woman, though she was
willing to help. Mr. Schanfarber suggested that she hire her brother –
in – law, Izzy Glick, to come in and be General Manager, and her
brother, Phil York was the merchandise manager, so the two of them ran
the business until my brother and I grew up and came back from (army)
service and take over the business.
Phil York had a son named Leonard York, who was my first cousin and
he married Evelyn Lynn from Zanesville, Ohio and he was in the war and
he was one of the first injured – wounded persons in the war. He was at
Pearl Harbor and he was shot at Pearl Harbor the first day of the war.
He came home and recovered and spent several years in the army, and then
got out and pursued – ended up in the furniture business, traveling on
the road, and then also he had an accessory business.
And he and Evelyn had one son, Jonathan York, who is now president of
the local Chamber of Commerce. He grew up, graduated from the Columbus
Academy, went to Yale University, got his Master’s and Doctorate at
Michigan State and ended up back in Columbus after many years as
president of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. He worked at Glick’s.
He was Izzy’s son. He had no interest in the business. Of course, his
mother was Helen Gundersheimer – Aunt Helen the one who they interviewed
at the Heritage House.
I’ll tell you a funny story, but I wouldn’t want to put it on
Leonard York died about some ten or twelve years ago from adhesions
from his war wounds, because he had been shot in the stomach and in the
leg. As he got older he suffered from the adhesions and he ended up
passing away at an early age from that.
Here’s an anecdote that comes to mind the story about the Columbus
Jewish Community way back: my mother was born and her name was Julia
York. She was born in Carnegie, Pennsylvania and brought up there. She
was in visiting in Columbus her brother, Phil York, who was the manager
of W. A. Hirsch, a downtown men’s store – that’s how she met my
father, and they got married in 1916. I mean in 1914. And he brought his
bride, my mother, to Columbus and they had an apartment on Madison
Avenue on the near east side. And as a custom of the day, Dearie
Lazarus, which was Fred Lazarus’ wife, Dearie – D-e-a-r-i-e – it was a nickname.
Dearie Lazarus was the matriarch of the Reform Jewish Community and
when my father brought his bride here after being married in Pittsburgh,
she came to call on Sunday afternoon on the new bride and my mother
tells the story about how impressed she was as she drove up with the two
horses pulling the buggy with a footman, and a driver and they came to
call on the new bride, and she said they had a very nice conversation,
and the one thing they remembered distinctly “Dearie” Lazarus
telling her, says, “As a new bride I have to give you some advice.
You’re going to enter into the Jewish community here and your going to
be invited to a lot of parties and a lot of affairs. One thing you must
realize, you daresn’t talk about anybody, because everybody’s
So that was my mother’s – that was the advice Mother got when she
moved here. Dearie’s husband was Fred Lazarus, of the F. & R.
This concludes the taped presentation by William L. Glick for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society Oral History