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Even as a small child, Richard Globman never had to wonder what career path he'd take. It was inevitable that he'd help run his grandfather's business one day.

``It was instilled in us from the very beginning that we'd work here. We've enjoyed taking over the tradition,' said Globman, who is now vice president and treasurer of Globman's Department Store, the company his grandfather, Abe Globman, started more than three quarters of a century ago.Barry A. Greene, another of Abe Globman's grandsons, is president and chief executive officer of the company.

While shopping centers are popping up all over Martinsville, Globman's Department Store remains a stabilizing force in the downtown area.

``Our store has been here since 1915, and I don't think any other store has been here that long. We are certainly the anchor in downtown,' noted Richard Globman. Martinsville and Henry County have several shopping areas, including the Patrick Henry Mall built in 1989 and the Collinsville Shopping Center, which has a variety of stores and speciality shops frequented by bargain hunters.

But long-time customers and new shoppers alike flock to Globman's on Church Street. According to Richard Globman, those customers are from adjoining counties as well as from North Carolina.

``We know we have people coming here from as far as 30 miles away - from Roanoke, Va., to Greensboro,' he said.

Richard Globman said the number of customers from Greensboro has decreased since the company opened another store in the Eden Mall in Rockingham County. Globman's also owns and operates department stores in Galax and Danville, Va.

While many of the businesses in Martinsville were started by local people with local capital, Richard Globman's grandfather was an immigrant who came to Martinsville from Pennsylvania.

Abe Globman immigrated to the United States, arriving in Philadelphia in 1911 from Ozarich, Russia. He got off the boat with $25, the minimum amount the 16-year-old needed to pass through the immigration station.

He lived with an uncle in a Polish section of Philadelphia and supported himself by selling shoelaces and handkerchiefs from a push cart. He managed to save money and began a process of Americanization that included changing his name from the original Gleibman to Globman.

Later, Globman became a salesman in a dry goods store. Two years after that, he worked in a Waynesboro, Va., retail store. At age 21, he was prepared for entrepreneurship.

Globman came to Martinsville with $400 and rented a vacant store on Courthouse Square that was to be called the United Department Store. Globman returned to Philadelphia to buy wares.

He also returned to marry Marsha Zimmerman, who came back to Martinsville with him.

Together they built the new business. By 1923 the store was expanded. An adjacent building, the former Mark's Store, was leased. Two years later the Globman's bought both stores.

In 1925 Globman almost lost his business. An excavation of a basement resulted in the collapse of the store's flooring and the financial burden could have meant ruin. Customers rescued the business by paying all the outstanding bills.

Months later more space was needed, so Globman rented a store on the corner of Main and Franklin streets where his wife housed the women's ready-to-wear departments.

Next, a three-story building on the courthouse square, now occupied by Shumate and Jessie Furniture Co., was remodeled.

In the early 1940s the second generation took over the store. Abe's son, Leon, who later became president of Globman's, and Abe's son-in-law, Dan Greene, became executive vice president. Abe's daughter, Sis Greene, was vice president and buyer.

The 50,000-square-foot Church Street store opened on May 11, 1950. In 1961, Globman's expanded when it bought the First Presbyterian Church adjacent to the store and the First Baptist Church across the street, which now is the Broad Street parking lot. The store was enlarged to 120,000 square feet.

In 1960, the third generation, grandsons Barry A. Greene and Richard Globman, joined the management. Greene's wife, Eydie, is general merchandise manager.

Abe Globman died in September 1979, but the store he founded has continued to grow. In addition, another business, Lots of Labels, was started in 1983 and includes 10 women's apparel off-priced speciality shops in North Carolina.

``We're just happy to still be here and have the tremendous support from our friends and customers who have grown with us over the years,' said Richard Globman.

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