Mays was the little local guy in the big department store world. Its stores felt more approachable than its classier high end rivals. They were built right on the street as opposed to at the back of an enormous parking lot.  They were reasonably sized, small enough to be comfortable in, but big enough to find what you were looking for, and the emphasis was always on savings.

The first Mays was opened by owner Joe Weinstein in the 1920’s on Fulton Street in Brooklyn. It was a single store front. Weinstein was an immigrant from eastern Europe near the Polish Soviet border. He liked the name May because it reminded him of the countryside and flowers in springtime.

Mays opened its second store in Glen Oaks in 1950. It’s hard to imagine what the opening of a big department store in eastern Queens meant to the area 60 years ago.  There was no Roosevelt Field, no Green Acres mall, even the miracle mile wasn’t a mile long yet.  Maybe if they stayed around they could have gotten Willie  to make a commercial for them. He could have said ‘Mays and Mays’ two great New York hometown favorites. Unfortunately it never happened. With the late 70’s and early 80’s came very hard times for local chains. The period saw the demise of  Korvette’s,  S. Klein, Great Eastern, Orbach’s, Alexanders and many others. Mays declared bankruptcy in 1982 and closed its last store in 1988.

Mays Original Brooklyn Store

Mays Brooklyn Store Today

Glen Oaks  Store Opening Announcement, October 1950.

Free Buses from Flushing to Elmont were set up to bring people to the new Mays store in Glen Oaks.

Mays, Glen Oaks store, Circa 1980.

Mays Levittown Store 1967

Mays Ad 1982 – The beginning of the end for Mays.

Mays New York City – 14th St, 1982

Former Mays Levittown Store Today

Former Mays Glen Oaks Store Today

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  1. Lee Somerstein

     /  December 21, 2010

    I used to live in the garden apartments behind the Glen Oaks store. There was a great Italian restaurant across Union Turnpike(?) from Mays. Fabulous hot, freshly baked soft garlic bread sticks were brought out to your table as soon as you sat down. YUMMMMMY. I forgot the name of the restaurant.

  2. My dad used to work around the corner from May’s on 14th Street. Ahhh… memories.

  3. Here’s a pic of the Five Towns Mays in 1988……

  4. Oops, typo…………… 1978

  5. Pat Bergen

     /  July 25, 2014

    who remembers Small World Jamaica Ave Queens

  6. At the mays on Fulton st.and elm place in downtown Brooklyn,I had a part time job as a stock clerk in 1979! It was the first job I had,I miss that store,good bargains!

  7. The day after john Lennon was murdered,I remember coming to work in a deep funk,it seemed that all that day a dark forboding cloud filled with grief,anger, and sadness ,surrounded all of n.y.c,after everyone realized what just happened!

  8. frank davis

     /  June 14, 2015

    i started as a cashier in the brooklyn store in high school two years later was a manager in the toy department best job i ever had love that store

  9. Bill Kolkhorst

     /  February 6, 2016

    Shopping for school clothes w/my Mom I saw Micky Mantle with his family shopping. I got his autograph on back of a Mcalleister wrinkle resistant garment tag.If i kept quite I did but somebody else saw him & within ten minutes the store was crowded.

  10. Vincent Jovino

     /  October 17, 2016

    My mom myself my sisters homework at Mays at one point or another in the mid-1950s, the department store had a resort in Upstate New York where workers could take vacation pay or go to the resort for the one or two weeks. I was a musician hired to play piano I also worked as a waiter and busboy and to get there Joe Weinstein and his confidant drove me on a Friday night several hours to the resort it was an enjoyable time and a great memory two of the best weeks of my life nice to have seen this post, it’s no longer a quieter time chances like that I guess don’t come as often anymore.

    • Peter

       /  February 14, 2017

      My great aunt worked at the Mays in Jamaica and she went to that resort. It was in the Catskills somewhere.

    • Tony Boccio

       /  February 19, 2018

      Hey Vincent Jovino…my mother worked at the Glen Oaks location in the mid 1950s and my brothers were waiters at the summer resort. Great place. Do you remember the street location? Thought it was on route 52…

  11. Donald Swacey

     /  October 22, 2017

    When was Levittown store opened

    • Susanne Maone

       /  March 23, 2018

      Wish someone would answer. I asked when it opened too not even in Google

  12. Gene Perry

     /  March 18, 2019

    I grew up in Glen Oaks in the 1960-70’s and lived on 247Th. street. I remember Mays was the one stop shopping place for my family. They had everything you needed. The stationary dept was on the right side and the record dept was on the left side.They had an electronics dept upstairs. I bought my first cassette player there in the early 1970’s.We used to stop into the Hamburger Coach restaurant and we would sit down at the counter and the order was delivered by Lionel trains. It was awesome.They were great times.Regards, Gene Perry

  13. Paul Sagnelli

     /  September 10, 2019

    My name is Paul Sagnelli my mom Margie Sagnelli worked in Mays Brooklyn as a cashier on the 4th floor outside the toy department. She was very friendly the the the Major Shulman’s son Lloyd. I started working in Mays at the age of 15 as a cashier wrapper. Then cashier then in the money room with Minnie. Then Jr. sportswear dept. 83 with Al S. Marvin Diamond I actually worked there while in the military during the Vietnam war. My twin brother Anthony worked in sportswear also. I left to work in the post office about 1973 then became a nyc police officer in 1974 and was stationed in the 84th pct. which covered Mays.


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