September 2, 1999
Celebrating 50 years in business at the same location in Surfside -- pioneer retailer Harry Breiter and his wife, Estelle, owners of Hamilton's Men's Shop at 9479 Harding Ave.
``We're an institution,'' Harry says. ``Everybody knows us.'' ``A real mom and pop shop,'' Estelle says. ``We cater to our customers' every need.''
A New Jersey native, Harry, 75, moved to Biscayne Point in 1946. He and his brother Phillip opened a men's store at 67th Street and Collins Avenue. In 1950, Harry decided to go solo in Surfside. ``It looked like an up-and-coming area,'' he explains. Hotels abounded. Tourists accounted for 70 percent of his sales.
Today, he says, most of those hotels are condos and his business is half tourist, half locals.
Harry married Estelle, 60, in 1959. She has worked beside him in the store ever since -- six or seven days a week. ``Cheap help,'' she jokes. They paid rent for 30 years before buying the building 20 years ago. According to Harry, Hamilton's has remained successful by selling classic merchandise for an overlooked market -- middle-aged men (45-95, he says).
``Harry is the best fitter in town and I'm the best saleslady,'' Estelle adds.
Over the years, they say, customers have included newsman David Brinkley, fighter Rocky Graziano and actor Erroll Flynn.
``Last month, Pee Wee Herman came in and spent $900,'' Estelle says.
But all good things must come to an end. The Breiters, thinking about retirement, plan to phase out the store at the end of this year.
``I'm tired,'' Harry says, ``and want to rest up.''