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Industry Retail
Fate Liquidation
Founded 1907
Defunct 1974
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Key people
Gustav Erlbacher, founder
Products Fashion apparel, shoes, and accessories
Parent Sara Fredericks, Inc.

Erlebacher's was a high-fashion ladies specialty store that operated in Washington, D.C. The location at 1222 F. Street, NW, opened on October 14, 1907, as G. Erlebacher. The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Gustav Erlbacher were buyers for the Hecht Company in Baltimore before opening the store in Washington. It was described as follows:[1]

Opening - Tomorrow G. Erlebacher throws open the door of his handsome new store. We enter our bid for your favor, giving every assurance that it will be fully earned and eminently appreciated. Our stock consists of exclusive models in women's suits and gowns for afternoon and evening, dainty waists, smart tailor-made skirts, and fine furs. While the styles and goods are exclusive and of the highest class, we have made our prices well within reason, and offer you garments of distinct merit at figures that will be thoroughly appreciated.

In 1914, the store moved to 1210 F. Street, NW. Gustav Erlbacher died in 1924 and Mrs. Erlbacher remarried in 1934 to David Frank. In 1938, the Franks sold the store to Jules Winkelman.[2] In 1949, Erlebacher's opened its store at 1133 Connecticut Avenue, NW, at the corner of Desales Street.[3] The F Street location closed in 1953.[4] The store changed hands in 1970, when Jacob Epstein Katz purchased it from Jules Winkelman. In 1971, Erlebacher's moved to a new location at 5512 Wisconsin Avenue in Friendship Heights, Maryland. Its former location was occupied by Raleigh's. The Friendship Heights location was innovative in that its 10,000 square feet (930 m2) were occupied by a number of boutique specialty stores including Jandel Furs, Pampillonia Jewelers, and I. Miller shoes. The location was also known as the Holiday Inn Plaza shopping mall.

The store became nationally famous when Jacqueline Bouvier bought much of her trousseau there prior to her marriage to John Fitzgerald Kennedy. In the early 1970s the store garnered widespread publicity by being featured in TIME Magazine for its innovative display, in the front store windows, of the TIME Magazine portraits of famous First Ladies and American women who had previously graced the pages of that magazine. This was the inspired brainstorm of then store owner Jacob E. (Buddy) Katz. Source: son of Jacob E. (Buddy) Katz

In 1972, Erlebacher's was purchased by New York-based Sara Fredericks, Inc.[5] The store closed in 1974.[6]


  1. ^ Display Ad., The Washington Post, Oct 13, 1907, p. E7.
  2. ^ Obituary of Mrs. David Frank, The Washington Post, Times Herald, Feb 23, 1962,pg. B3.
  3. ^ "Decorative New Shops Open Today," The Washington Post Sep 7, 1949, pg. B5.
  4. ^ Display Ad., The Washington Post, Jan 25, 1953, pg. S7.
  5. ^ "Erlebacher's Keeps Old Name in Purchase," by William H. Jones, The Washington Post, Times Herald, Sep 23, 1972, pg. D8.
  6. ^ "Erlebacher's Closing May Be Short-Lived," by Claudia Levy, The Washington Post, Jun 6, 1974, pg. E1.