CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY

KOTLIKOFF'S
 
25th & Federal Streets

Louis Jacob Kotlikoff was born in Kiev, Russia in 1879. He came to America and married Clara Hager, another Jewish immigrant, shortly after the turn of the century. Louis Kotlikoff opened his first store at 2511 Federal Street with $250, and the young couple lived in the apartment over the store. Their first child, Tanfield, was born in 1907 and Harold was born two years later. The business had prospered, and had already moved to 2507 Federal Street, when in 1912, the Kotlikoffs purchased 2509 Federal Street and doubled the size of their store. A third son, Albert, was born in 1915. In 1923 the Kotlikoff store was moved to 2503 Federal Street, where it remained open until 1981. Louis Kotlikoff passed away in Camden in 1933, and the store was run by his widow and three sons.

Louis Kotlikoff Harold, Louis, & Tanfield Kotlikoff

The only department-type store in East Camden, the Kotlikoff store continued to prosper, and at its zenith employed 25 people and $1,000,000 in revenue. The opening of the Cherry Hill Mall in 1961 impacted on the store's sales. The mall's developers tried to entice leading Camden retailers, including Kotlikoff's family owned clothing store, to move to the mall.

Tanfield Kotlikoff and his brothers decided to stay in the city and to compete with mall merchants by offering better service. The East Camden store would remain open, but other Camden institutions departed in quick succession in the 1950s and 1960s, including the Jewish Community Center, Camden Catholic High School, the Esterbrook Pen Company, and the Courier-Post newspaper.

Tanfield Kotlikoff
outside the store - 1970s
A happy shopper inside Kotlikoff's - 1970s

The decline in the economic fortunes of Camden and its residents hurt the store. Renewed optimism in the 1970s was dashed when Mayor Angelo Errichetti left office after the ABSCAM trial. The city lost a planned Veterans Administration Hospital and whatever momentum the city had gained was lost.

On October 27, 1981, Kotlikoff's was burglarized three times in one day...the second and third times after thieves pried away the plywood that covered plate glass windows shattered by hurled cinder blocks. Five months later, Kotlikoff's closed its doors forever.

The building was the site of a thrift store in the early 1980s, run by Goodwill Industries. In the 1990s the building was divided, and presently houses three retail business.

It is long forgotten, but at one time there was another Kotlikoff Department Store in Camden. This business was at 3404-06 Federal Street. This store was founded by Samuel Kotlikoff, and operated by his wife after their separation in 1927. Son David was operating the business as late as 1947, when it was known as the Rosedale Department Store. This business had closed by 1956.

Camden Courier-Post - January 9, 1928
The "Other" Kotlikoff's
Three Heroes Defy Flames as $10,000 Fire Sweeps East Camden Store
AVIATOR RISKS LIFE TO SAVE PET DOG; JANITOR ARRESTED
Blame Man's 'Celebration for Overheating of Furnace That Started Blaze
...continued...

Harold Kotlikoff
Camden High School Purple & Gold Yearbook - January 1928

Camden Courier-Post
October 8, 1936

Camden Courier-Post - October 8, 1936
Click on Images to Enlarge
...continued...

Floor Space of East Camden Store
Doubled to Meet Increased Business

Show Windows of Kotlikoff's Department Store

Camden Courier-Post - October 8, 1936

Camden Courier-Post
July 23, 1941

 

I had my first job at Kotlikoff's, at 25th and Federal.  They hired me as a part time stock boy, after school.  But not until I got my "working papers" (do kids today need working papers?).

Harry McCurdy
March 2007

While growing up in Camden I was an altar boy at the convent next to the hospital on Euclid Ave and my mother always took me to Kotlikoffs for my suits.

Pat Yocolano
September 2007

Camden Courier-Post
August 4, 1971

EAST CAMDEN

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