Part 2 Keeseville (NY) Pearl’s Department Store

Summary: The Pearl’s in Keeseville was in existence from 1937 to 1943,  then from 1952 to 1988 for a total of over 42 years.  It went though three time periods. or “eras”.  See below for description of these periods.  JIC Note: Since this Pearl’s was managed/owned by my father , Wilfred “Bill” Cohen, and the one I grew up with, it has a special place in my memories. Please scroll down to see articles and ads for all the eras and my (“JIC”) notes.

Chain(s): Pearl’s Department Stores, Inc. (First and third eras), Pearl’s of Keeseville (Wilfred Cohen era).

Dates Opened and Closed: a. First Pearl’s Department Stores, Inc. / Eli Cowen era October 14, 1937 to April 24, 1943 (closed due to WWII), b. Wilfred Cohen era August 1952 to January 1974. c. Second Pearl’s Department Store, Inc. era April 1974 to early 1988. See articles and ads section below.

Street Address(es) when open (Building name/block) [Current Address]: (Location #1): Front Street – north side (Kingsland Block) This address was the location for Pearl’s from 1937 until 1943, then from 1952 until 1968,  (Location #2): Front Street  south side (Prescott Hardware/George Moore Building) 1968 to 1982   [1724 Front St, Keeseville, NY 12944](Location #3): Front Street north side (former old A&P / Village  Bazaar store). [1703 Front St, Keeseville, NY 12944]1982 to 1988  See pictures below.

Former Store(s)  in Location(s): (#1) Was State Theater before 1952 (#2) Prescott’s Hardware Store (#3) The old A&P prior to October 1966, The Village Bazaar (10/28/1966 to 10/18/1982)  .

Later Store(s) in Location(s): After Pearl’s Department Stores, Inc. ceased operations in 1988, the store #3  (i.e The old A&P/Village Bazaar location) has had various tenants. In 2017, the building houses St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment & Recovery Centers, Location ( #1) In May, 1969 Keeseville Hardware  moved into this location. in 2017 has Cloud Splitter Carpentry.  Location (#2) houses a church, Front Street Fellowship House of Hope. See photos below.

Buildings still exist?: Yes, for #1,#2,#3

Owners, Managers, Employees: JIC Note: Except for managers, this is an incomplete list and may be inaccurate.

  • Eli Cowen (aka Eli Cohen), manager (1937- February 1938,  approx. July 1938 to  1942 when went into service
  • Ralph Pearlman , manager February (February 1938 – approx. July 1938
  • Peggy Fisher, manager (circa 1942 – April 24, 1943 (when stored closed, she went to manage Pearl’s Waterbury (VT)  store)
  • Wilfred (“Bill”) Cohen, manager/owner (1952 – 1974)

    Picture of Wilfred “Bill” Cohen taken in front of home on Vine Street in the early 1950’s (Jay Cohen family photo)

  • managers later years – TBD
  • Clerks
    • Mrs. Wallace Conger (1937-1938)
    • Louise Witherwax (McKee)  (1938 -1939)
    • Elizabeth Fillion (Lambert) 1941
    • Mrs. Pat MItchell (circa 1953)
    • Eleanor Brown, clerk, (1952- 1974, perhaps after 1974
    • Ruth Carpenter,  clerk (circa 1952 – 1974), perhaps after 1974
    • Bea McGee (circa 1952 – 1974), perhaps after 1974
    • Doug McNierney, clerk (circa 1950’s)
    • Dave Winters, clerk (circa early 1960’s)
    • Nancy LaBounty Boiseau (from early 50’s until she transferred to Village Bazaar when it was opened in 1967)
    • Anita Clodgo
    • Doris Fuller
    • Donna Pray
    • Joan Pray
    • Nancy Bishop
    • Debra Orchard (late 1970′ and early 1980’s)

Subsequent Owners if sold: Liquidated in 1988

Articles, Pictures, Ads: (Note: Articles and ads are in chronological order. Photos are at bottom.)

Time Period /Era 1:  Pearl’s Store 1937 to 1943 (The Pre-WWII Years)

JIC Note: The store in the pre-war period was started and run by Eli Cowen, Frances Cohen’s (my mother’s) brother.  The store closed in 1943 due to the war and the shortage of merchandise and managers.  See closing ad below for explanation of the closing to their customers.

Article announcing 1937 Opening (Essex County Republican October 8, 1937 p4) The store was the 10th in the Pearl’s Department Stores, Inc. chain.

Ad next to article above (ECR 10/8/1937) Note the catchy slogan “Where Better Goods are Sold for Less Money

Grand Opening ad Thursday Oct. 14 {1937} (ECR 1937-10-15 p4)

“Thank You” ad week after 1937 opening (ECR 1837-10-22 p4)

First ad for the Pearl’s Keeseville store in 1937 (ECR 1937-11-12 p4)

Dollar Days ad before Christmas with mention of selling toys (ECR 1937-11-26 p5)

List of Businesses in Keeseville in December 1937. Many were still around in 1952!  (ECR 1937-12-31 p5)

Eli Cohen {Cowen} goes to Malone for several months. Ralph Pearlman, from Malone, comes to Keeseville (ECR 1938-02-11 p4)

Louise Witherwax succeeds Mrs Wallace Conger as clerk. (ECR 1938-10-14 p13)  JIC Note: To students who went to Keeseville Central School, Louse became the wife of Hugh McKee who was my high school math teacher.

Pearl’s ad with other retailers. Eli Cohen is back from his stint in Malone (ECR 1938-07-15 p13)

Eli Cowen was manager of Pearl’s In Keeseville  from 1937 through the store closing in 194x (ECR 1938-12-9 p5)

The Pearl’s in Keeseville closed in 1943 due to lack of merchandise and managers. (ECR 1943-4-23 p5)

Peggy Fisher, the last Pearl’s manager went to the Pearl’s Waterbury store when the Keeseville store closed (ECR 1943-4-23 p3)

Period when no Pearl’s Store in Keeseville  (1943-1952)

JIC Note: It appears that the closed store building was vacant until 1946 when the State Theater occupied the building. I have not yet determined when the theater closed but it was obviously before July 1952 when Pearl’s reopened in the same location. When Pearl’s reopened in 1952, the popcorn machine was still on the second floor! I remember seeing it when I was six.

State Theater Opens (ECR 1946-02-15 p1) JIC Note: Building where Pearl’s was stayed vacant until 1946.

State Theater ad May 1946 (ECR 1946-05-17 p5) JIC Note: Notice reference to former Pearls.

Time Period / Era 2: Pearl’s Store 1952 to 1974 (The Cohen Years)

JIC Note: This is the period were my parents, Wilfred “Bill” and Frances Cohen  ran and owned the Pearl’s store in Keeseville and the period I am most Intimately familiar with. As mentioned above, my mother’s brother Eli Cowen  ran the pre-war store. In 1948, my father Wilfred “Bill” Cohen went into partnership with his brother-in-law Eli Cowen ‘s  (yes, the same Eli Cowen who ran the first Pearl’s store in Keeseville) Pearl’s Department Store, which Eli owned, in Potsdam, NY.  In 1952, my father ,  due to growing families and the limited success of a second store in Madrid, NY, , decided to open his own store.  Eli suggested that Bill should re-open the store in Keeseville because it was a vibrant village and had the Prescott’s Cabinet factory. The Cohen’s moved to Keeseville in 1952 when I was six. The rest, as they say, is history!

Keeseville Opening in 1952 (ECR 1952-06-27 p1) JIC Note: Article left out the Cohen’s son, Jay.  My sisters always kid me about this omission.

One of first ads (Back to School) when store re-opened in August 1952 (ECR 1952-08-22 p3) jIC Note: School opening sales were as important as Christmas sales.

Ad for making keys in Keeseville. (ECR 1952-09-12 p3) JIC Note: My Dad  said he paid the electricity bill  selling the keys.

Pearl’s “modernization”  (See photos below) (ECR 1954-07-23p1) JIC Note: I remember the original porch and wood sidewalks when I was 6.. See before and after pictures below.

Hunting Clothes ad (The Record Post (Ausable Forks) 1954-10-14 ) JIC Note: Hunting clothes were one of the most popular items in the Pearls store over the years. Who can forget the red plaid outfits and the green hunting boots?


“We Cotton to Fall”  ad. (ECR 1954-09-24) JIC Note: Bill Cohen was an advertising person at heart.  That was his training.

Infant Furniture ad (The Record Post 1955-03-17) JIC Note: Over the years, Pearl’s added items to serve the Baby Boomer Generation,.

(ECR 1955-7-1 p5) JIC Note: Pearl’s Junior Athletic Award (A black leather / red wool melton varsity jacket) was  given to a three-sport athlete in his Junior year.  The awards went on until 1974. 1955’s recipient was Donald Bedwell. I am working on a list of recipients.

January 1956 ad with other four  clothing stores in Keeseville (ECR 1956-01-06) JIC Note: Times were different then. Local merchants worked as a larger community, coordinating hours and sales.

(The Record Post,1956-03-29) JIC Note: You even got S&H Green Stamps when they were the rage. What fun sticking the stamps in your books. Other stores had Plaid Stamps.

(ECR 1956-09-14 p4) JIC Note: Once a year people knew the Cohen’s were Jewish


Start of Elks Club in Keeseville (ECR 1956). JIC Note: My Dad was one of the charter members.

(PPR 1957-01-31)JIC Note:When I think of Pearl’s, I always remember the “Better Goods for Less Money” slogan.:  The 45 years is based in the start of Paul Pearl’s first store in Alburg, VT

(ECR 1957-02-08 p5) JIC Note: Records (33 1/3’s and 45’s) and record players were another set of items sold at Pearl’s in Keeseville  In the first Pearl’s,  the gray rack was in the back of the store. It was updated weekly by a wholesaler from Albany.

(ECR 1958-10-03 p4) JIC Note: Notice of a food sale at Pearl’s. Hardly a week went by in the 50’s and 60’s without a food or bake sale for scouts, churches, 4H clubs, school groups, etc.

Christmas ad 1958 (PPR 1958-12-18 p23)  JIC Note:The toy department  included plastic and flying planes!

Wallpaper and window shade ad (ECR 1959-04-03 p3) JIC Note: It was always fun cutting the window shades with the manual rotary cutter.

(ECR 1959-05-15 p4) JIC Note: A furniture department was added in 1956 in the downstairs after the widening of the staircase at the back of the store. Wallpaper, linoleum rugs, and tricycles were downstairs as well,

(ECR 1960-02-12 p1) JIC Note: BB guns used to shoot-up Front Street  The BB hole remained  in the plate glass window until the store moved across the street,

Selling Skis, Poles, Boot and Parkas in 1960 (ECR 1960-11-11)

Bunny Leavitt , a spokesman for Converse, comes to Keeseville Central School (ECR 1961-02-03 p3). Pearl’s sold a lot of Converse All-Stars “sneakers”

Wilfred Cohen trip to Glens Falls in 1961 (ECR 1960-02-17 p4) JIC Note: One of many trips. The warehouse and headquarters for Pearl’s chain was in Glens Falls.  Fun driving to Glens Falls (before the Northway) with Dad and stopping at the Black Bear Restaurant on Route 9 in Pottersville, NY for pie!

“All Roads Lead to Keeseville” ads ran in 1962 and 1963 (PR 1962-05-17)

REX Theater ad (PPR 1962-07-12 p3). JIC Note: They  printed these ads on poster paper and my Dad put them in the store window for a free pass worth 35 cents. I most likely used to probably see this movie!

(ECR 1964-09-11 p4) JIC Note: Pearl’s sponsored bowling league teams and  other teams like softball and baseball over the years. Here is one in 1964.


Christmas ad 1965 (PR 1965-12-20 p13)  JIC Note: Ad shows a number of national brands. 50 years is based on Paul Pearl opening Alburg (VT) store in 1915.

(ECR 1966-05-27 p8) JIC Note: In 1966, the holiday was Decoration Day, not Memorial Day! The 98c sneakers were irregulars, the $1.98 were first quality.

(ECR 1968-04-28 p1) JIC Note: In 1968, Pearl’s moves across Front Street to the George Moore Bldg (Former Prescott’s Hardware), 5000 sq ft. of space!

Ad (PR 1968-11-15 p5)
JIC Note: Pearl’s sold sporting goods, tennis shoes and the school gym suits. Later there was A Sport Shop associated with the Village Bazaar, after Pearl’s was sold in 1974.

Thom McAn ad (PR 1969-03-06 p13) JIC Note: Over the year’s the Pearl’s in Keeseville had brand names and was more upscale than Pearl’s Department Stores, Inc. Pearl’s.

Joint Christmas ad (ECR 1969-12-26)
JIC Note: The Cohen’s Pearl’s coexisted with The Village Bazaar in Keeseville from 1966 to 1974. See Village Bazaar store pages.

(PR 1971-02-09 p12) JIC Note: Pearl’s in Keeseville was a distributor of Boys Scout and Cub Scout merchandise. Bill  Cohen always was adding things to meet the needs of the village! The department was added when the store moved to its second larger  location.

Store was remodeled in January 1973 (ECR 1973-01-26 p6)

(PR 1973-12-13 p12) JIC Note: One of last ads of the Cohen’s Pearl’s period.  Note the Jantzen and Pendleton  brands.

Closing sale for the Cohen’s Pearl’s (PR 1974-01-28 p13)
JIC Note: After the Village Bazaar was opened for a number of year’s, the Cohen’s decided to sell the store back to Pearl’s Department Stores, Inc.

Time Period / Era 3:  Pearl’s  Department Store, Inc. again!  1974 to 1988

JIC Note: With the success of The Village Bazaar chain, the amount of time required to run two types of stores, and  the increasing competition from larger retailers in the market that Pearl’s served,   Bill and Fran Cohen decided in 1974 to close the Pearl’s store they had run for 22 years.  Elliott Pearl, owner of the Pearl’s Department Stores, Inc. chain decided to re-open the store because it always had been a good location for a retail clothing store and the Pearl’s name in Keeseville had a big following. The store stayed as part of the chain until the chain decided to close in 1988., first at the #2 location and then in the #3 location (when The Village Bazaar closed in 1982 and Pearl’s Department Stores, Inc. purchased the Village Bazaar building because it was easier to heat).

Ad announcing Pearl’s Department Stores, Inc. owning the store in Keeseville (PR 1974-04-24 p1)

Pearl’s ad with Keeseville, now part of Pearl’s Department Stores, Inc. (PR 1977-05-25 p10)

Coupon during Removal sale (PR 1983-03-31 p20)
JIC Note: Removal Sale meant the store was moving (i.e. to location #3, the old Village Bazaar)

One of last ads for Pearl’s Department Stores, Inc. (PR 1987-12-26 p5) JIC Note: The Keeseville store was there until the end!

Photos of Store Locations

JIC Note: Here are photos of the stores in the different locations.

Pearl’s Department Store in Keeseville NY before modernization. Location #1  Store looked like this from 1937 to 1954. (ECR 1954-12-24)

Pearl’s Department Store in Keeseville NY after modernization in 1954 (ECR 1954-12-24)


Pearl’s In Keeseville NY around 1968 (Location #2) (Source: Facebook Group “You Know You Are From Keeseville When..)

Pearl’s Location #1 August 2017 with Jay’s 1995 Taurus in front  (Jay Cohen photo)

Pearl’s location #2 August 2017 Front Street Fellowship House of Hope (Jay Cohen photo)

Pearl’s location #3 August 2017 This store front was  former site of Village Bazaar, before Pearl’s moved here from location #2 (Jay Cohen photo)


To be completed. Stay tuned!