*Excerpts taken from Washington Post Obituary notice November 6, 2004
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Samuel “Doc” /Eisenberg, 98, a Russian immigrant who founded Plain Old Pearson’s Wine & Liquor in Washington,D.C.,and who built it into one of the largest volume stores
in the area, died of pneumonia Oct 30, at Sibley Hospital. Mr. Eisenberg founded the store about 71 years ago, just as Prohibition ended, and became a successful merchant who offered discount prices, innovative merchandising and humorous, opinionated newspaper advertisements.
He did whatever would help sell beer, wine and spirits, including special appearances by a billy goat.He photographed 10 “mystery men”, in Lone Ranger-style masks, whose mission was to sneak looks at competitors’ prices all over town. A chalkboard “stock exchange” updated those prices three times a day, his ads screamed. Doc would advertise almost anything.
In 1958, Plain Old Pearson’s ran a sale to apologize for any offense given to any customer by any employee for any reason in the previous 25 years. On the 15th anniversary of the business, Doc ran a six-part series of ads to tell “the dramatic story of the rise from a $20-a-day business in the tiny corner of a drug store to $2,000,000 a year!
Born in the Ukranian town of Rovno in 1906, Mr. Eisenberg came to Washington with his family in 1918. As a teenager, he sold newspapers on the street for 2 cents, a penny less than the other newsboys, who promptly beat him up.
He graduated from Eastern High School and from George Washington University as a pharmacist. In 1933, he bough tPearson’s Pharmacy at 2448 Wisconsin Avenue. According to the Prohibition-era laws, customers could buy liquor if they had a prescription, so Doc cleared a shelf for liquor.That prescription was soon outselling all others.Luckily,Prohibition was repealed at the end of the year.
He opened “Pearson’s Annex,”,the liquor emporium, a few doors away from the pharmacy seven months later. He owned both businesses until the 1940′s,when he sold the pharmacy to concentrate on the renamed annex. He kept his pharmaceutical nickname,”Doc”. In 1956 his then 21–year-old son, Walter joined the business, ,and later Doc put his son in charge of the
wine section.Wine prices were starting to escalate, By 1961, Plain Old Pearson’s hit on a new retailing idea-a futures market on cases of wine. Its ads featured Walter boarding a TWA
jet to Europe, with a blank check in his hand,to buy up cases of the most promising vintages.
‘DOC EISENBERG’ was an outstanding MERCHANT.!!