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Steinbach was founded in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and maintained branch stores along the New Jersey shore, and in the central part of New Jersey. The company was at one time affiliated with the Kresge-Newark department store in downtown Newark. In the 1960s, the chain was purchased by Supermarkets General Corporation (SGC), and continued to operate as a standalone company. SGC also purchased the Howland chain in Bridgeport, Connecticut (which had previously merged the Genung's chain of stores into itself), along with the two-store Goerke's department store based in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Howland also continued to run as a stand-alone chain, while the Goerke's stores became part of the Steinbach chain, and in turn were rebranded Steinbach. In the 1970s, the chain opened three full line branches at shopping mall locations along the growing Jersey shore, including the chain's largest, a unit at the Shore Mall near Atlantic City. In 1976, a fourth mall location was opened at the Seaview Square Mall, near its downtown Asbury Park store.
The Seaview Square location was opened as the chain's most upscale store, and a number of departments were originally not part of the merchandise mix. This changed when the downtown Asbury Park location was closed in 1979, and Seaview Square was modified to include all departments that were carried at the former downtown store.
In the late 1970s, SGC merged the two chains together under the corporate name Howland-Steinbach. Each chain retained its original name, but were operated by a single corporate office. SGC sold the chain the 1980s to Netherlands-based Amcena Corporation, the owners of the New York City-based Ohrbach's chain.
Amcena in turn converted most of its Ohrbach's stores to Steinbach stores. The parent company also converted all of the former Howland stores to the Steinbach nameplate, and closed the former Ohrbach's flagship location in New York. By the late 1980s, Amcena opted to sell the chain, Value City purchased some of the stores, and Detroit based Crowley Milner and Company purchased some others. The chain was liquidated with the rest of Crowley Milner in 1999.
Steinbach had been a fixture in Asbury Park since the late 19th century, and by the turn of the 20th century, a new flagship store was planned and built on Cookman Avenue, billed as "The world's largest resort department store." This building initially contained five floors (basement level through fourth floor), and by the 1930s, a fifth floor and clock tower were added. As the Northern sections of the New Jersey shore started to suburbanize, Asbury Park and Steinbach became a focal point. The downtown Steinbach remained popular even after several nearby shopping centers opened, but the race riots during July 1970 cast a shadow over downtown, and shoppers started to avoid the area. Ownership changes also affected Steinbach, and in 1978, Steinbach's then-corporate parent, SGC, opened a new consolidated office building in White Plains, New York to serve as the headquarters for its department store holdings. This cost downtown Asbury Park over 100 jobs, and diminished the role of the downtown building. SGC also refocused Steinbach as a more value-oriented chain.
In spring 1979, it was announced that the downtown Steinbach would close after a liquidation sale, with the store's closing on July 14, 1979. The public entrances were padlocked, and the remaining display windows were boarded up. Steinbach continued to use the building as a base for its maintenance staff for a few years, before abandoning the building entirely. In the late 1980s, an arson fire nearly destroyed the entire building, but did result in the removal of the clock tower and fifth floor.
Sackman Enterprises, which purchased the building in 2001, announced on March 1, 2007 that the first of 63 apartments was ready for rent following a complete renovation of the building. The ground floor now contains 22,000 sq ft (2,000 m2) of retail space. The four floors above are loft-style apartments.
- "An Historic Theme Study of the New Jersey Heritage Trail Route, Chapter III". National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
- Pike, Helen. Asbury Park's Glory Days. Rutgers University Press.
- "Steinbach Apartments". Asburyboardwalk.com. Retrieved 2009-01-30.