Nana Goldberg, owner of the legendary I. Goldberg Army-Navy store, knew her days at 13th and Chestnut might be numbered back in 2015 as a wave of retail redevelopment worked its way eastward from Broad Street. But she wasn’t prepared to absorb a fourfold rent increase her landlord proposed to implement at the end of her lease this coming September.
Fortunately for her and for legions of I. Goldberg fans, she won’t have to, nor will she have to close the store. Her search for new digs has come to a successful end with the signing of a lease for 718 Chestnut Street.
The new building will be only the fourth location for the store in its 98-year history, but it will be the first to have an elevator connecting all the store’s floors. This building has three of them above ground and one below, and it’s got a front window that’s ideal for displays.
Facilitating the search for a new home was Jamie B. Weiner of the Delphi Property Group, who contacted Goldberg when news of her plight reached him. Up until then, a company press release said, “every location [Goldberg] visited was either overpriced, or on the second level, or in a location other than Chestnut or Walnut streets.”
The release goes on to note that Goldberg felt strongly about remaining in a central location easily accessible by public transportation. The new store’s proximity to the 8th and Market subway station meets that criterion handily.
Goldberg herself is happy because it means that a unique, and uniquely Philadelphian, retail institution will survive in an era of retail retrenchment and chain domination. “There isn’t a day that goes by that customers don’t tell her and her staff what the store means to them,” the release notes. “It’s not just a business selling merchandise. It is a community of loyal staff members that have upheld the business’ mission, ‘Good Goods, Good Value, Good Service,’ throughout the years. Customers come for brands, selection and unique finds at reasonable prices.”
The store’s customers come from all walks of life and a broad cross-section of the city. Many shop there because the store is the only one in the area to carry the product lines it stocks, and its continued emphasis on American and European military surplus means that one often finds items unavailable anywhere else.
“We’re very excited,” Goldberg said. She added that she was especially pleased that both the agent and the new landlord were themselves small business owners: “They got I. Goldberg.”
The new store will open sometime this spring.
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Updated Jan. 12, 9:32 a.m., to correct spelling of Weiner’s name.