Mark Wolf, a fixture of fashion and retail in Great Neck Plaza, retiring

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Mark Wolf, a fixture of fashion and retail in Great Neck Plaza, retiring
Mark Wolf, longtime owner of Camp & Campus, said he planned to retire soon earlier this year. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Mark Wolf, the owner of Camp & Campus, a women’s clothing store on Middle Neck Road, has been there since he was 14. He can recall when girls had to wear skirts and dresses and when jeans exploded onto the fashion scene in 1969.

But while fashion has drastically changed over the last six decades — to the point Mark Wolf said he “could write a doctoral thesis” on the subject — one thing has remained the same: Camp & Campus has been a fixture of fashion and retail in Great Neck Plaza since 1949.

Wolf, who is retiring, has worked there since the 1950s, starting as a teenager coming in after school. Even while going to Tufts University to study economics and mathematics, Wolf spent his vacations at the family-owned store. After a brief teaching stint from 1968 to 1971, he dedicated his time to Camp & Campus for the next 46 years.

“The retail business is an all-time encompassing endeavor,” Wolf, 72, said.

In the roughly 60 years Wolf worked at Camp & Campus, now at 42 Middle Neck Road, he said that hundreds of salesgirls have worked with him and some of those relationships continue today.

Great Neck shoppers and store owners alike fondly recalled Wolf as a sophisticated but kind man of quality, both in character and clothing sales.

Maggie Goldberger, a parent, visited the store many times. She recalled buying some of her first jeans there and how Wolf was truly a fashion expert. Now she and her daughter go there all the time.

“I was talking to Mark and he was telling me about certain pieces of clothing, and the stitching, and he really knew the material,” Goldberger said.

“Everything I brought there was very trendy, very popular… and I wore it,” Goldberger added.

Janet Esagoff once owned a business on Bond Street down the block from Camp & Campus’ previous location. Her store, Party Girl, focused on evening wear and dressmaking for teen and young girls. Wolf’s store and hers shared a lot of clients.

But when business began to lag, Esagoff said Wolf reached out to her and said “let’s both come to Middle Neck Road.” She also described him as someone who always tried to bring traffic to Bond Street, recognizing the importance of thriving businesses.

“He wasn’t afraid to reach out to fellow competitors,” Esagoff, who is now a lawyer, said.

Mersedeh Rofeim, who shopped at Camp & Campus for over 10 years, said she bought clothes from the store for herself and her children as they grew up in Great Neck. She said that Camp & Campus definitely seemed like a “family store,”  ensuring that each purchase fit the occasion.

“It was a very personal experience,” Rofeim said, describing the Wolfs as a “very nice family.”

“He will be greatly missed. His clothes were quality,” Rofeim said. “That goes for his character too.”

Wolf said that since announcing his retirement, hundreds of people have come into the store, many of them upset, some of them crying. He said he hopes that the store will continue beyond his family.

“It’s a testament to the store, a testament to me, and an indication of how essential it is to the community,” Wolf said.

As for Wolf, he said he will miss his relationships with people the most, as well as the rush that comes when fashion trends burst onto the scene.

“There’s also something exciting when new fashion comes — and over the years I’ve been right a lot more than I’ve been wrong,” Wolf said.

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