Pioneer, owner of Boston Bargain Store dies

By Ryan Cornell

One of the first businesswomen in Front Royal died this weekend.

Eleanor Rappaport, born Eleanor Goodman on Feb. 29, 1916, died Saturday morning at the age of 98.

She first came to Front Royal in 1933 after graduating from high school in Philadelphia to run her uncle’s shop, the Boston Bargain Store. When her uncle, Harry Raflo, died in 1938, she took over the business and ran the store until closing it in 2003.

In the 71 years she owned the store, it stayed at the same location on E. Main Street in downtown Front Royal. The building is now home to an antique store.

David Silek, who grew up across the street from the Rappaport family, recalled memories of her “amazingly productive life.”

“You have to remember back in the ’50s, there weren’t a lot of women owning and running their own business,” he said. “She was at the forefront of being a woman in business.”

Silek said her family was also one of the earliest Jewish families in Front Royal. He said Rappaport was one of the founders of the Business and Professional Women’s Club, and served as one of the eldest members of Downtown Business Association meetings.

“When we would be discussing an idea, I can remember looking at Eleanor and she would say, ‘Yeah, we tried that in the ’50s,’ ‘We tried that in the ’60s,'” he said. “She saved us from trying out some bad ideas and encouraged us to follow some good ones.

“She survived the Depression, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam era and the mass changes that went on in the ’60s,” he said. “Eleanor had gone through every clothing style imaginable in her store.”

His family might have owned competing clothing stores on Main Street, but he bought all of his shoes from the Boston Store as a child, including his favorites, a pair of KangaROOS.

“I had seen them in New York and when I got back to Front Royal [in the 1980s], I told my father I didn’t want plain tennis shoes, I wanted KangaROOS and that was the only place in Front Royal that had them,” he said.

You never saw her wearing something that wasn’t ready to be put on a mannequin in the store, Silek said.

“What’s interesting is her birthday was Feb. 29, which only occurs every four years, so really she was 24 ½ years old,” he said.

Her funeral will be held at the Maddox Funeral Home in Front Royal at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com