Morris Zimmerman

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To be distinguished from Morris Zimerman.
Morris Zimmerman, circa 1910.

Morris Zimmerman (December 10, 1876, Letichev, Russia (now Ukraine) – October 27, 1959) was a notable craftsman, merchant and businessman in Baltimore, Md. He founded Howard Luggage Company, a landmark Maryland business which only closed in 2007, after trading for 93 years. At the time of its closure, the business was still operated by the 3rd and 4th generations of the Zimmerman family.

Morris started crafting trunks and luggage by hand with his father and brothers in Letichev, traveling throughout Ukraine to sell his goods. At age 26, Morris emigrated alone to America, leaving behind his pregnant wife age 17 and his 1½ year old daughter. He found work in Baltimore at a trunk factory and saved up enough money to bring his wife and family to America. By 1906, his family was reunited and Morris was prospering. He became a supervisor and union organizer at the trunk factory. Because of his union activities, he was fired from the job and blacklisted by luggage manufacturers.

This forced him to set up his own business and in 1914, using consignment merchandise, he opened Zimmerman's Luggage Shop, on Eutaw Street in Baltimore. He became successful and expanded to other businesses, at one point owning 41 lease houses and 2 movie theaters. In 1923 Morris suffered a debilitating stroke that nearly killed him. By the time Morris had recovered from the stroke, his businesses were bankrupt and he had lost his home. With the aid of his children Betty, Sidney and Shirley, he had reestablished Zimmerman's Luggage Shop by 1925. In 1928, he opened a branch on Howard Street, the up-and-coming retail district of Baltimore at the time. He named this shop "Howard Luggage" after the street and the business kept this name ever since.

In 1936 he closed the shop on Eutaw Street and concentrated on Howard Luggage. The decision almost bankrupted Morris again, but the investment was to pay off following America's entry into World War II as rationing programs limited the amount of luggage produced. Morris recovered his fortune and Howard Luggage became one of the only retail suppliers of luggage in the eastern US during the 1943-45 period. Morris retired in 1944 a wealthy man.

Morris was married to Dena Singer (1885-1964) in 1901 and had 6 children: Betty (1902-1979), Rose (1904-1904), Sidney (1908-1976), Shirley (1909-1997), Annette (1919-), and Pauline (1927-).

Bibliography[edit]

Chapin, David, Zimmerman Family History: 1876-1990, 1990, ASIN B0006EZA64.