At a time when women rarely went into business for themselves, Mary Sachs, an immigrant from a poor family with little formal education, became perhaps the most successful entrepreneur in her adopted city of Harrisburg, Pa., and beyond. She opened her first retail store in Harrisburg, selling upscale women's clothing in 1918, but expanded it to include several departments. Stores in Lancaster and Reading followed. Known as the "Merchant Princess," she revolutionized retailing, by setting customers up in individual booths and bringing clothes to them.
But Sachs also won accolades for her charitable works, earning a second moniker as the "Princess of Philanthropy." She was most active in the Jewish Community Center of Harrisburg and other Jewish organizations but donated ecumenically to serve many causes. Eleanor Roosevelt, a personal friend, declared that "few can ever match" her generosity.