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When Joel Russ emigrated from Austria-Hungary to the United States in 1907, he kicked off his career by selling strings of mushrooms that he carried on his shoulders. After running his business out of a pushcart and then a horse and wagon, Joel was able to open up his first brick-and-mortar “appetizing” shop in 1914 (first on Orchard Street in the Lower East Side, and later at the current location on East Houston Street in 1920).

During this time he and his wife, Bella, had three daughters: Hattie, Anne and Ida. Hattie began learning the business in 1924 and her sisters came in to help shortly after. The shop was renamed “Russ and Daughters” in 1933, which caused quite a ruckus in the neighborhood—women just didn’t run businesses in those days. Sadly, Joel passed away in 1961, and later Anne’s son Mark Russ Federman took over the shop in 1978.

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This story is from Kinfolk Issue Fifteen

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