The family-owned clothing and shoe store Lester’s was honored by local pols and community leaders on Sept. 21 with the co-naming of the corner of Avenue U and Coney Island Avenue as “Lester’s Way.”
The newly unveiled street sign paid tribute to the late Lester Kronfeld who, along with his wife Lillian, now 91, built a family business over seven decades from its beginnings in 1948 to its expansion beyond borough, city, and state lines.
The Southern Brooklyn staple has served its clientele with quality fashion across the generations, according to one of the partners who now runs the business along with other family members.
“We’re serving third generations. We have people shopping who were shopping with us as children and now buy clothes for their children and grandchildren. They’re not just customers — they’re like extended family,” said Perry Schorr, Kronfeld’s son-in-law, who runs the store along with his wife Sheri, Kronfeld’s nephew Barry Cohen, and Cohen’s son Dane.
After Lester returned from serving in the Navy in World War II — including on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day — he and his wife opened their business on Coney Island Avenue and served the local community for 60 years until they handed over the reins to the next generation — but they stayed involved, according to Schorr.
“Even when Lester was in his 80s, he would drive around and make deliveries. He was like a local celebrity,” Schorr said. “Lester and Lillian really worked side by side in this business six days a week. Lester used to say he was married 120 years.”
Sheri has worked in her parents’ business since she was 15, when her father would take her to pick out products for teenagers.
“We would drive into Manhattan to go into showrooms and buy merchandise for teens because I was a teen then and he thought I would know what teens would like,” said Sheri, who is now the store’s fashion director and a professional stylist.
The store posted a picture of the sign on social media and customers have been reminiscing about the store’s past, according to Sheri.
“We put it up on Instagram, and people are telling their ‘Lester’s stories’ of going there as a child,” she said.
Sheri said she thought the commemoration really brought across her father’s larger-than-life generosity and humility, but said that her mother was just as much to thank for the success of the stores.
“My mother was the driving force behind it. She likes to give him all the credit, but she deserves it just as much, as well,” she said.
Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay) and Community Board 15 chairwoman Theresa Scavo spoke at the ceremony, and Scavo said that the clothing store and the family behind it are an integral part of the local fabric.
“Everybody in the neighborhood shopped there for their children and for themselves,” she said. “I don’t know anybody in the district that didn’t know Lester.”
Deutsch said Kronfeld’s impressive achievements made a mark on the borough.
“Lester’s mixture of humor and warmth made him a lovable figure to Brooklynites, and he grew his store into the landmark it is today,” Deutsch said.