• December 11, 2019
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Queens Chronicle

He came from Belarus and set up shop in Jamaica

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Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019 10:30 am

Samuel Leaf was born in Grodno, Belarus, on the border of Poland on Sept. 1, 1882. He arrived in America in 1884 and became a naturalized American citizen in 1904. He married Russian immigrant Rose Lubitz and they had five children: Alice, Sophia, Abraham, Herbert and Harold.

Armed with only an eighth-grade education, Leaf worked in the furniture district on West 32nd Street in Manhattan, learning all about the business. After learning everything about hardwoods like maple and oak, he opted to go another way, opening a store that sold chrome kitchen sets on Hillside Avenue.

His sons ran a tire store next door on the block’s corner. Chrome furniture was cheap and affordable compared to real hardwood sets. Leaf hit a great stride and sold thousands of sets each year.

Hepassed away at age 70 in June 1953. His heirs sold off the properties and the land became new and used car lots. The last sibling in the Leaf family to pass away was Sophia, a few months shy of her 101st birthday in 2007.

Ironically, today, hardwoods like oak, pine and maple are no longer in vogue among some as they once were. Now with the spendingpower of the millennial generation, Leaf’s old, shiny, art deco chrome kitchen sets are in great demand, selling for much more money than when they were new. It’s more proof that everything goes in cycles. What was once old becomes new again.

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