After 38 years, J.S. Edwards Ltd. Fine Men’s Clothing will shut its doors this summer.
Its owners, husband-and-wife team Edward and Diane Steinberg, are retiring.
As president of J.S. Edwards, Edward Steinberg focused on buying and merchandising, while Vice President Diane Steinberg focused on bookkeeping. The couple are longtime residents of Owings Mills and members of Beth Israel Congregation.
They founded J.S. Edwards several decades ago. At the time, Edward Steinberg was working for a men’s clothing chain in Baltimore, when he learned that another clothing store, in what was then the Hilton Inn Plaza, had gone out of business. The couple approached the landlord and converted the location into their new store.
The early days were stressful, Diane Steinberg remembered. “The night before we opened, we didn’t sleep,” she said. “We had no customers the first day that we opened at the Hilton Inn. So one of the dress shops right near us, they felt sorry for us. … So they came in and they bought things, and that was our first day of business.”
In 1989, the Steinbergs moved their store to its current spot at the Festival at Woodholme shopping center, becoming one of its first tenants, said Edward Steinberg.
“It was a terrific lineup of stores, with a gourmet shop and high-end jewelry stores and [an] arts store,” he said. “So it was a collection of locally owned shops and boutiques that I thought would be a natural [fit] for us. And it would be more visibility, which it proved to be.”
J.S. Edwards targeted customers who were working professionals, including doctors, lawyers, business people and those with a greater degree of fashion sense, Edward Steinberg said.
Since their founding, the store has carried brands such as Jack Victor, Canali, Robert Graham and Psycho Bunny. “We’ve always been proud to represent a lot of these brands that are exclusive to J.S. Edwards, not only in Baltimore, but some of them in Maryland,” Edward Steinberg said.
Over the years, their store has clothed people for all kinds of major life events, Diane Steinberg said, including weddings, funerals and graduations. “‘This is my son’s first suit,’ ‘this is my dad, he’s old but he needs a suit,’” she recalled past customers saying. “We’ve heard every kind of story, and we try to meet their goals. That’s what we really do.”
There have been challenges, Edward Steinberg said, but he spoke positively about the experience of going into business with his wife. The fact that they focused on different aspects of the business, he believed, may have helped to preserve their 46 years of marriage.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” Diane Steinberg said. “But, you know what, we’ve worked through it, and we both have loved the business.”
The Steinbergs plan to close J.S. Edwards in June, around the time their lease will end. They have been planning their retirement for several years, Edward Steinberg said, and hope to spend more time with children and grandchildren and to travel more.
Much like the night before their first opening, Diane Steinberg doesn’t expect she will get much sleep the night they close. “We’re doing our going out of business sale, and so many customers said, ‘Why are you leaving?’ ‘Where are we going to shop?’ ‘What are we going to do for men’s clothes?’” she said.
Diane Steinberg is glad their store has been so important for their customers.
“It warms my heart,” she said. “It really does.”