Third generation tends to Ruben's

Spacious store continues tradition on Broad Street

Max and Rebecca Ruben emigrated from Eastern Europe in the late 19th century, settled in Augusta and started a dry-goods store. They built a legacy that continues as Ruben's Department Store.


More than 100 years old and still in the hands of the family that founded it, Ruben's is a mainstay among downtown Augusta's clothing retailers. Most of the others -- including J.C. Penney, Belk, Davidson's and JB White -- no longer exist or have moved out to the malls or other shopping centers.

Ruben's, a 28,000-square-foot store at 914 Broad St., however, survived those market changes.

Bonnie Ruben, the granddaughter of the store's founders, once told a Chronicle interviewer, "I always liked downtown the best. We stayed downtown because we are committed."

Today, she owns the store with her husband, Jeff Gorelick.

Many Ruben's customers have shopped at the store for years. They remember the maple floors that creak and now are covered with gray carpet. They recall the smell of new clothes.

The store was originally in the 600 block of Broad Street. From 1920 to about 1930, it was in the 800 block. It has been in the 900 block for almost 70 years.

Paul Ruben, the oldest of Max and Rebecca's seven children, started working in the store when he was 12, after his father died. Paul and Charlotte Ruben married in 1947 and had one child, Bonnie. She and her husband took over the store in 1979, three years before her father died.