Within a half an hour of my visit, I. Goldberg had sold its last items, and shuttered for good by 5 p.m. August 23.
I. Goldberg was always there when you needed them, even if the usual Army-Navy-Marine clothing fare or warfare ephemera was not a part of your sartorial style.
Then, on Friday, it wasn’t any longer. And I was there to watch it, even if I didn’t realize – at that moment – that THAT was IT.
The century-old Philadelphia surplus store that had moved locations from its original location at 429 Market Street (1919–1968), to its most famed space, 902 Chestnut Street (1968–2002), then 1300 Chestnut Street (2002–2017), and finally, 718 Chestnut Street, announced early last week that it was closing its doors for good.
For some, that would mean no more hunting boots, canteens, Carhartt and Dickies. My dad bought his construction work gear there. His brothers probably did as well.
For me, however – because I thought I was a pirate or something flouncy – I always used to hit the 9th and Chestnut Store to buy a wealth of thick, stripy blue and white French sailor shirts, their occasionally blousey English naval top, the rough material naval pants with the bib front and more buttons than needed, the rare finds of leather motorcycle overalls, black desert boots (not easy to find, as they were mostly green or brown), Russian motorcycle goggles, and, of course, peacoats when I assumed I could join Dexy’s Midnight Runners.
Since I no longer dress like a spy or a weird pirate, it had been a minute since I have been to Goldberg’s. I didn’t even remember that they had moved, only – that they were closing, soon, with no plans to attend the funeral.
Until I did.
Purely by accident, I was running by 7th and Chestnut for an appointment, when I happened to simply look up and see a going out of business sign, before glancing further, only to realize that it was I. Goldberg.
This spare, three-floor space, so different than the grand old Goldberg of my teens, had plenty of stuff left, even though it was mostly army supplies, POW stickers, leather racing caps with ear flaps, a few Timberlands too small for my feet, and too many pants fare too large for my waist. I did, however, spy one size 32, army-green flight suit that called my name. Honestly, they’re great for cold weather ( I suppose), so I made the purchase. Marked down many times, and now 50% below all other prices, it was $3.
I assumed that maybe I would go back over the weekend to check out a few hunter green sweaters that might work for autumn. Maybe grab one last set of Russian motorcycle googles for the road. That is, until I got home, and checked the internet only to find that, within a half an hour of my visit, I. Goldberg had sold its last items, and shuttered for good by 5 p.m. August 23.
And that was it – the close to a large chunk of my youth, and a slab of Philly clothing and lifestyle history. I might not even wear those pants. Instead, maybe hanging them in a frame as a memento.