The Borstein Electric Company was operated in Camden, NJ by Isadore and Meyer Borstein. The Borstein brothers were the sons of Joseph and Celia Borstein. The Borsteins had come to America from Russia in 1889, living in Kentucky for several years in the 1890s and in Louisiana early in the century, before coming to Camden NJ, eventually settling at 1200 Everett Street. Besides Isadore and Meyer, there was another brother, Benjamin, and five sisters, Sadie, Clara, Rhenette, Rebecca, and Adele. Isadore Borstein was born in Kentucky in 1900, while brother Meyer was born in Louisiana in 1902. Joseph Borstein eventually opened up a grocery store.
Benjamin Borstein was drafted July 16, 1918 and sent to Camp Dix NJ where he was assigned to Company 41 of the 153rd Depot Brigade. While on furlough from Camp Dix he came down with Spanish influenza and died at home on September 30, 1918.
Birth of a Business
The Borstein family began the business in 1918. The business was at 930 Broadway during the winter of 1921. The following year the Borsteins leased space in the old Wildey Hall 502 Pine Street. The building was sold the following year, which forced a return to 930 Broadway. At the end of 1924 a lease was signed for 918 Broadway. By 1930 the family had moved to 606 South 5th Street. With the success of the business the Borsteins purchased a fine home at 1500 Baird Boulevard in the Parkside section of Camden. Isadore Borstein, who had wed after 1930, with his wife Mildred, moved to 2592 Baird Boulevard by 1947. Mildred Borstein served as bookkeeper to the company in those days.
The store moved several times during its years of operations, which spanned the 1930s through the 1970s. The business was located as late as the summer of 1942 at 201 Broadway, which which had been the home of Camden mayor Roy R. Stewart‘s haberdashery, and in recent years was been the home of Broadway Eddie’s Food Court, owned by the late Broadway Eddie Warhoftig.
When the Eagles Hall at 415 Broadway became available in November of 1942, the Borstein’s purchased it at a tax sale from the city of Camden, and moved their business to the new building. By 1947 a second business, National Electric Supply, had opened up at 806-08 South 5th Street. The 1959 Bell Telephone directory shows that the two business had relocated to the corner of South 7th Street & Kaighn Avenue by 1959, although it appears that retail appliance operations had ceased. National Electric Supply was still in business at 7th Street and Kaighn Avenue as late as 1977.
Isadore Borstein also served as vice-president of the Camden County Chamber of Commerce in the late 1940s. A resident of Cherry Hill NJ in his later years, he passed in January of 1980. Brother Meyer moved to Miami FL, where he died November 10, 1989.
After working as a coat buyer for a department store, sister Adele Borstein operated Adele’s Apparel Shop, known in later years simply as Adele’s, from the 1940s through the 1960s at 1197 Haddon Avenue in Camden. She later moved her business, and in the late 1960s and early 1970s operated at Route 38 and Church Road in Cherry Hill. She passed away in March of 1984.
Wildey Hall was built in 1868 by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and was named for Thomas Wildey who formed the first Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge in NJ, in Camden, in 1829.
Eagles Hall was a building built by the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie No 65, in 1908. The building was later used by various groups until a fire in 1968.
The Borstein family began the business in 1918. The business was at 930 Broadway during the winter of 1921.