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Ephraim and his sons Collie and Joe Waner came from a special breed of Jews who ventured into Africa from Lithuania in Eastern Europe around 1926. They started the Brakpan Leather Company selling leather and other shoe and boot products to Cobblers on the East Rand. As time went by they progressed into selling shoes and Colman started his own chain of shoe stores namely Waners Shoes Stores with stores ranging from Brakpan, Springs, Benoni, Boksburg and Germiston.

Together with his wife Edith they ran the business, which were also Champion Ballroom Dancers. Ephraim Waner died in 1946, having lived in Brakpan for 17 years; to show the effectiveness of him as a businessman when he passed away he bequeathed each of his 4 children with a commercial property in Brakpan. Believing that wealth was in owning land and properties, this became the policy of the later Waner generations, Jeffrey and Ernest the sons of the late Colman also have invested in Ekurhuleni.

Both sons joined the shoe business in the late 1960’s and in the 1990’s they branched out by stocking Cowboy and American Merchandise sourced in the United States. They opened American Trading stores in various Casino’s in South Africa. These stores are exceptional in that they stock items not seen anywhere else in South Africa. From Dry Pepper drinks to Harley Davidson Motor Bikes, they have sold an indelible part of the U.S.A to the public at large, even their butter- flavoured popcorn is sourced in the States. Everything comes from the U.S.A and is original American.

In the United States you get Western Stores selling cowboy merchandise but nowhere do you find American Trading Stores selling the lifestyle of America as the Waners Bothers have done so. They Bring America To You. One of the most amazing features of the Waners Business is their staff. The fact that between 10 of the staff they have over 300 years service amongst them. This could be a Guinness Record and is historic in itself. Age is not a criteria for employment if one is able to keep on working. The late Mrs. Edith Waner, mother to Jeff, Matilda and Ernest worked until the age of 90 at her store in Brakpan. This kept her in good health.

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