Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

Small Business Spotlight: Isaac’s Menswear

Isaac’s Menswear is an independently owned men’s fashion store located on Wilmington Street, across from the new RBC Plaza. Prior to the arrival of the clothing store, it was a seedy bar called Chocko Flame which frequently had run ins with the police. Before that, it was a Greek restaurant.

The store is run by a man named Shalom, who has been in business since 1985. The name Isaac’s came from his former business partner and mentor. Isaac and Shalom ran the men’s clothing store in what is currently The Square Rabbit for a few years before Shalom relocated to the current location to run the busines on his own. The owner of building housing The Square Rabbit had offered to sell it to him for $60k in the mid-eighties. At that time, it was a rough part of town and he wasn’t sure how long he was going to stay in the area. He doesn’t look back with regret at the missed opportunity. A native of Israel, he wasn’t sure if or when he may move back to his ancestral homeland.

Today, business is still good. The future is uncertain as The Edison is poised to occupy the entire block. Shalom rents his space from Progress Energy, which has no desire to stay in the real estate business. The other property owners of this block were no doubt offered large sums of money to sell out and relocate to the newly proposed space.

Shalom isn’t worried, though. He’s pretty matter-of-fact about the situation. If he has to relocate, he will–and it won’t be downtown. He has many fond memories of being in business in the current location. In fact, a relic of the former First Citizens Building that used to occupy the space now used by RBC Plaza is in his posession. One of the gargoyles that adorned the entrance now resides in his home. To him, it is a reminder of the magnificent building that used to be there and was turned in to a parking lot in 1991.


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