Author Topic: Farewell to Milton Proznitz (Prozys)  (Read 7403 times)

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Farewell to Milton Proznitz (Prozys)
« on: May 30, 2006, 03:47:27 PM »
From Sunday's Record:

MILTON PROSNITZ, 90, of Hackensack died Saturday. Before retiring, he owned Prozy's Army-Navy Store, Hackensack. He was an Army veteran of World War II. He was a member of Temple Beth-El, Hackensack. He was a member of the Hackensack Chamber of Commerce and past master of Fulton Friendship Masonic Lodge, Hillsdale. Arrangements: Gutterman-Musicant, Hackensack.

Related story:

Seventy-nine-year-old Army-Navy store to close in Hackensack, N.J.
The Record (Bergen County, NJ)| December 24, 2004
Hugh R. Morley

Prozys Army-Navy store is being decommissioned.

The legendary workmen's clothing and outdoor goods shop will close early next year after nearly eight decades, the owners said Thursday.

The store's 10,000-square-foot location at 121 Main St. has been sold to a Brooklyn developer, George Butsikaris Realty Inc. The company will renovate the property and try to attract chain store tenants, a company official said.

The Prosnitz family, which founded the store, had been quietly looking for a buyer for several months, said broker Lynn Jantos, who handled the sale.

No closing date has been set. But large hot-pink and lime-green posters plastered on the store's front windows announced a "Huge Sale" on Thursday, with discounts on all merchandise.

"No returns. No exchanges. No refunds. No layaways," a sign on the front door stated. "All sales final."

The sale marks the end of an era for Hackensack's Main Street. In recent years, the business strip has seen high-profile stores such as Woolworth's, Lowits clothing store, and Womrath's bookstore either close for good or depart for elsewhere in Bergen County.

Prozys -- with its extensive array of products, from gas masks and insulated workmen's suits to steel-toed boots and jeans -- is the last remaining sizable anchor store at the southern end of Main Street.

Milton Prosnitz, 88, and his son, Ted, 51, said that although business had been strong lately, the real estate deal was too lucrative to pass up. "It's the old story of being offered a situation you can't refuse," said Milton Prosnitz.

Although the company has been a "multimillion-dollar business for years," the family nevertheless chose not to open another store elsewhere, Ted Prosnitz added.

This year, the company closed its other Prozys store, on Route 46 in Clifton, after the lease on that property expired and the landlord sought to raise the rent, Milton Prosnitz said.

Prozys will continue to sell uniforms from another location, said Ted Prosnitz, who declined to give specifics. Aside from that, he said, he will leave the retail business entirely and focus on training to be a cantor, which he already has started.

The family would not say what will happen to the company's 16 employees, but several said they expect to become jobless.

"It's bittersweet," Ted Prosnitz said, noting that the store had served some families for decades. "My heart brought me here and I get to work with my dad every day. How great can that be? And I work with the customers every day. How great can that be?"

Employees said some customers were extremely emotional when they heard about the impending closure. Ted Prosnitz said one customer yelled at him in anger.

Salesman Bob Scelzo said some customers wept.

"It's too bad," said Ellen McLeish, 81, heading out of Prozys with a bag of woolen long johns and other warm clothes for her son, a mechanic. She said that after shopping at Prozys for 30 years, she will now have to go to Garden State Plaza to buy working clothes for the men in her family.

Neighboring stores said the loss of Prozys would worsen an already difficult business environment. Athough Target opened at the other end of Main Street in 2001, and other stores have come in nearby, the southern end of Main Street still needs a boost, merchants said.

"I don't like the idea of more stores closing," said Randa Malki, co-owner of Expression Jeans, noting that she and Prozys compete on some products. "It's competition, but competition is good. The more stores you have, the more people are interested in coming to this area."

Milton's father, Jules, opened Prozys in 1925, when trolleys rattled up and down the cobblestone Main Street and the thoroughfare was dotted with department stores. Jules Prosnitz began with a $45,000 loan and a determination to offer good-quality workingmen's clothes at value prices.

Over the years, numerous family members have worked in the business -- among them Milton's brothers, Henry and Sanford, and Ted's children, Jared, 21, and Reyna, 19. At one point, the company had six stores, including locations in Elmwood Park, North Arlington, West New York and Lake Success, N.Y.

Milton Prosnitz said that after more than seven decades at the store, he still works six days a week and, until recently, had no desire to give it up.

"This has been like my baby," he said.

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(c) 2004, The Record, Hackensack, N.J. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. For information on republishing this content, contact us at (800) 661-2511 (U.S.), (213) 237-4914 (worldwide), fax (213) 237-6515, or e-mail
« Last Edit: September 26, 2012, 11:25:04 AM by Editor »

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Re: Farewell to Milton Proznitz (Prozys)
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2012, 10:08:09 AM »
As fashion changed, Prozys in Hackensack always stayed in style
Thursday, September 20, 2012
The Record

We bring up underwear. Ted Prosnitz responds with, "Father’s Day and Christmas! Those were always the two biggest underwear holidays."

He should know. For most of his life, Prosnitz, a 59-year-old Wyckoff resident, was a part of one of North Jersey’s most beloved family businesses: Prozys Army Navy Store at 121 Main St. in Hackensack.

The store, which closed in December 2004 after 79 years at that location, supplied North Jersey with briefs, boxers, union suits and long johns – as well as work boots, pea coats, snorkel jackets, camouflage pants and …

Was there anything Prozys didn’t sell?

Nan Davis of Englewood shopped there for all her summer-camp needs, while Lesa Brinker of Hasbrouck Heights was a few aisles over, buying her newest pair of Kates Bros. shoes. ("Large, clunky Mary Janes," Brinker recalled. "Back to school shoes were a ritual. And a very big deal.")

Mahwah native Nancy Hendricks-Nielsen loved square-dancing with her husband Warren in the 1960s. "Prozys was the place he bought all his Western-style shirts," she said. "He’s 6-[foot]-8 and he was skinny then. No place else carried his size."

When bell-bottoms first became popular in the 1960s, Dennis Mahonchak of Wayne bought his first pair at Prozys – the same store Lou Azzollini of Fort Lee went to with his childhood friends to buy "actual World War II helmets for $1.98."

The store was founded in 1925, Prosnitz said, "by my grandfather Jules and his three sons, all of whom worked in the business. They had a total of nine children and all of us worked in the stores, too."

Time – and some unexpected fashion trends – broadened the appeal of Prozys. And, as business boomed, so did the store’s square footage.

"The original store’s nominal address was 121 Main St.," Prosnitz said. "Then, as my grandfather, father and uncles grew the business, they took over another store just south of it. Then, the store to our north. Eventually, we had about 10,000 square feet of retail space, plus the basement space below the store that was filled with merchandise."

And, oh, what merchandise.

Prosnitz said his father, Milton, had dreams of being a haberdasher. His grandfather, meanwhile, was an admirer of retail whiz J.C. Penney.

"Originally, army-navy meant surplus shop," Prosnitz said. "But Prozys became the store for the workingman. If he needed clothes for work, uniforms, boots – we had all that. So he’d come in and buy his boots. Then his wife would come in and buy him some shirts and pants for when they went out. Then, the kids all wanted denim. Bell-bottoms. Peacoats. When grunge came in, they all wanted flannel again.

"Eventually," Prosnitz added, "every store was selling what we’d been selling for years. But they were more expensive."

His daughter Reyna, now 27, recalled helping out in the store when she was 8. "Just some folding and little chores," she said.

Years later, when she was in high school, Reyna worked there part-time and made good use of the store’s dog-tag machine. "It was a cool thing at the time," she recalled. "All the kids wanted dog tags and I had a machine that made them."

Sy Chase, a trustee and former president of the Hackensack Chamber of Commerce, recalls when Prozys was one of the anchors of the Main Street business district: "It was an unbelievably busy retail community. Sears. Packard-Bamberger. Franklin Simon. It was a lively mix, and Prozys was a big draw."

At one time, the store had eight locations, including concessions in the larger New York-based Masters department stores, and a Prozys in Clifton on Route 46, which closed in 2004 when its lease expired.

Months later, the family received a hard-to-resist offer for the Hackensack property, which they owned. It came at the same time that Prosnitz had decided to become a cantor. He went on to attend the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and is now a clergyman. The Hackensack store was gutted to accommodate a specialty grocery, Limon Marketplace. The market is no longer in business, and the space has been vacant since it shut down.

Prozys’ closing was emotional for its staff and customers, many of whom still remember Edna, the longtime seamstress and Dave, the salesman who could tell your pants size just by looking at you.

Like so many of his customers, Prosnitz had fond memories of growing up in Prozys – and growing older there, too.

"We were also a Ticketmaster outlet," he recalled, "and I can still remember all these kids coming in for INXS tickets. I kept typing ‘In Excess’ into the machine and nothing came up.’ That’s when I knew that, like everyone else, I was getting older."

THEN: Prozys Army Navy store, 121 Main St., Hackensack.
NOW: Vacant.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2012, 02:38:33 PM by Editor »