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What was The Wonder Shop?

Ben Steelman

A women’s clothing outlet, The Wonder Shop was a presence in downtown Wilmington for half a century.

Originally “The Wonder Dress Shop,” it opened in March 1932 at 33 N. Front St., under the management of Mrs. Annie Abrams. On Aug. 16, 1934, an ad in the Wilmington News trumpeted “New Ownership — New Management … With Fall Styles in the Latest Creations,” adding the promise “Our Prices Will Be Modest.”

The new owner-manager was Marcus L. Goldstein, who would remain with the store for the next 50 years. A prominent local businessman, Goldstein was also a member of the board of directors of the Bank of Wilmington.

In 1946, according to the Wilmington Morning Star, The Wonder Shop had 14 employees and featured “22 exclusive dress lines.”

Goldstein’s wife Janet was usually listed as vice president of The Wonder Shop in succeeding issues of the Wilmington city directory. A more memorable presence was Liletha Crabtree, who was more of a mentor than a salesperson to generations of young brides.

“She was elegant, very well dressed,” recalled Susan Taylor Block, “and she led to me to a great coat and dress that I still remember in detail.”

By the time the 1955 city directory came out, The Wonder Shop had moved to 108 N. Front St. In 1965, it relocated to 228 N. Front St., and in 1979 it relocated to newly-opened Independence Mall.

By 1990, The Wonder Shop was at 1409 Audubon Blvd. in the Aububon Village shopping center. There, Allie the poodle, who belonged to owner Joseph M. Goldstein, was a regular fixture.

The store disappeared from the city directory after 2003.


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