Drapery Man Ready To Hang It Up After 34 Years


December 27, 1991|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff writer

For 34 years, Seymour Goldberg has decked the windows, walls and sometimes halls of thousands of county homes.

He's adorned the windows and walls of a 17-room mansion for a cool $50,000. And he's taken jobs for less than $10. Last week, he rang up one for "$4 and change" for four shower curtain hooks.

He's outfitted fashionable homes in exclusive Gibson Island and modest homes in Glen Burnie. He's taken on almost every kind of job, big and small, during three decades in the custom drapery business.

But now, he's ready to throw in his tape measure and fabric swatches. Seymour Goldberg has helped hang his last drape.

His business, Pasadena-based Drapery Mart Inc., is up for sale.

Goldberg, 68, whoowns and runs the business with his wife, Bernice, said he's grown weary of the long hours and six-day work weeks. At his age, he said, there are other priorities in life, such as as golf and travel.

"Wewant time to smell the roses," he said.

The Goldbergs' only daughter, Ellen, an orthodontic assistant, doesn't want to continue the family business. So the Drapery Mart's future hangs on finding a buyer within the next couple of months.

If not, one of the county's few custom drapery shops will close forever, leaving loyal customers wondering where to go for their next valance or jabot.

"We have a lot of people who depend on us," said Goldberg, who started his career asa drapery man in the family's upholstery business in Baltimore. "We have some families that are in the third generation (as customers).

"We've done some of the most prestigious homes in the county," saidGoldberg, adding that the shop has draped windows in the State Housefor former Governor Marvin Mandel and in "fashionable" county restaurants, such as Sunset in Glen Burnie.

Whether the Drapery Mart ultimately closes or continues under new ownership, Goldberg said he can't complain about the three-plus decades he's done business.

When he started the business in 1958, occupying the last open spot in the newly completed Harundale Mall, he had no idea whether he'd make it.

"We didn't know if we'd last three months or three years," said the Pikesville resident. "Most people didn't know what draperies were. Traverse drapery was a new concept back then."

Although the average person didn't think about custom drapes and most people bought the less expensive "ready-made" varieties, the Drapery Mart slowly built its reputation based on a top-quality product and excellent service, Goldberg said.

"He's done just about my entire house," said Betty Hein, who lives in a nine-room home in Severna Park. "I've never evenconsidered anyone else.

"It's such a pleasure to work with him. He walks in and he just knows what you want . . . he picks up on cues from your home. I'm going to really miss him."

After 24 years at the Harundale Mall, the Drapery Mart moved to its current location in Jumpers Junction almost 10 years ago.

The shop's custom-made window treatments cost about two to three times more than ready-made drapes, but Goldberg said nothing looks or hangs like drapes made especially for a window or room.

Goldberg is the store's top "low-key" salesman -- which he describes as a born salesman who doesn't believe inthe hard-sell. His wife and his long-time saleswoman, Vicki Simmons,work with him in the store and in homes with clients. The sewing andinstallation are subcontracted to a number of businesses the shop has worked with for years.

Most people come in with some idea what they want, but need help narrowing the choices. The shop features a selection of more than 5,000 fabrics.

In 34 years, only one customerhas returned the shop's product, dumping light blue drapes on a table, never to be retrieved.

Goldberg explained that the customer liked the drapes but her daughter didn't, so the customer returned them after all the work was done.

"That's the only time that has happened," he said. "And that's a real feather in our cap."

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