The trade has been around for nearly 100 years and is an integral part of the Main’s history. A famous resident of the neighborhood, Leonard Cohen, even came there to buy his slippers… “The business has always stayed in the family,” says Steve Schreter, whose last name is well known to people who love Saint-Laurent Boulevard and his family. often stroll there.
Like the Schwartz, it is one of the few institutions in the Main that is holding its own and reminiscent of the strong Jewish presence of yesteryear. In the clothing business, you could say it’s a feat to run an independent store since 1928. “We’re a big little store,” Steve Schreter likes to say.
Steve’s father’s first cousin, Joseph Schreter, opened the store after immigrating from Romania. “Without speaking English or French, and without a penny in his pocket. My father Irving arrived in 1948 after the Second World War, relates his son. He was the second of eight children. The four youngest and his parents died in the concentration camps. »
Originally, the store, which was called J.Schreter’s for a long time, opened on Saint-Dominique and moved to the corner of Saint-Laurent Boulevard and De Montigny Street (now De Maisonneuve Boulevard). After a serious fire in 1955, it migrated north of the Main to its current location in front of Portugal Park, corner Marie-Anne. It was around this time that Irving and other Schreters succeeded Joseph.
Only Irving had children who would in turn take over the store: Steve and Joey Schreter.
Irving Schreter died in 2019 after 68 years of marriage to Paula. “My mother is still alive. She is 88 years old and has 15 great-grandchildren,” Steve points out.
Schreter has been able to weather all the turmoil that has marked the textile industry. In its early days, wholesale clothing was sold to petty traders and what were called peddlers or “merchant-lenders.” “We had a huge inventory and our suppliers were from Montreal,” says Steve.
It was a time when brands went unnoticed and fashion was not fleeting. “The clothes were pants, shirts and shoes… that’s it. It was a commodity. The important thing was to have the best value for money. »
The shift to retail came gradually in the 1980s with the arrival of shopping malls and credit cards. “We did radio announcements,” Steve says. On Schreter’s website, you can listen to advertising jingles that made the store famous:
At the time, an announcer who was friends with famed former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda let Schreter get a visit — and on-air banter — from the man who started his career as a Royals pitcher. from Montreal. ” A beautiful memory. »
Another memorable day was when Father and the Schreter brothers pulled a truck down the Main in 1986 for a photo. “Leonard Cohen walked past us asking, ‘Can I join you guys?’ »
The other photo of Leonard Cohen – who lived nearby on rue Vallières – that can be seen near the Schreter cash desk dates from 2009. Leonard Cohen had just celebrated his 75th birthday, just as the mother was about to do. from Steve. “I gave the photo to my mother, and he wrote her a note. »
Regularly, customers enter the store asking if it’s true that Cohen has already set foot there. Even more since a journalist from the New York Times told in an article after the death of the great poet that the latter was walking around the neighborhood with Foamtreads slippers bought at Schreter.
Steve Schreter “grew up” in the store when many native Greeks and Portuguese lived in the area. “The Hand has changed a lot. But Schreter has been doing fine since 1928 because the store has always been in step with the times.
From the start of the digital age, Schreter had a website. Today, the store posts its new arrivals on Instagram and stocks enviable brands: New Balance and On sneakers, Du/Er and Levi’s jeans, Birkenstock scandals, Montreal brand Kuwalla Tee, and more.
“The only thing that remains old-fashioned is the service,” points out Steve, who boasts of his close guard of three employees, including Manny Moura, who has worked at Schreter for 39 years. “My daughter and my son also worked here,” says the Portuguese-born Montrealer.
Luis Bola has been working there since he was a student. “I started part-time and I’m still at it. It’s like a family. »
Steve Schreter and his wife (of 48 years) live in Dollard-des-Ormeaux. They have three sons and eight grandchildren. Steve turns 70 on August 23. “I’m not ready for retirement,” he says. I may change my mind in the morning when I leave my house and I will not be happy to come here. I like to work. The store has always remained in the family. What will happen after me? I don’t know. For now, I am here. »
Here it is at 4358, boulevard Saint-Laurent.