My family’s had four generations in the men’s clothing business with me being the last one. 106 years! That’s pretty incredible, especially when you consider what it took to survive.
In 1911, my great grandfather opened Wilson’s Clothing Store, a tailoring shop in Delaware, Ohio. He was known as a “bench” tailor who literally made custom clothing from scratch. Local businessmen and professional people would order fabrics that he would hand-sew into suits, jackets and pants.
My grandfather entered the business following World War I, a time when businesses and industry were flourishing, until the Great Depression hit. It gripped everything with the strength of a vise—no one knew when it would let go.
With 25% unemployment, how could any store survive, especially when it offered non-essential items like suits? No one could afford the whopping price tag of $39.99.
The emergence of the SUIT CLUB became the solution.
As a forerunner of instant credit, it enabled a customer to select a garment and deposit one dollar weekly until completely paid off—all with no interest charges!
Just when things were looking up, World War II broke out. The survival of the world as we knew it, was at stake. As for the industry, most eligible men enlisted, making a suit purchase the last thing on their minds.
There was a glimmer of hope.
Where was I? Oh, yes—
the struggle for survival of my family’s clothing store with the onset of World War II.
With men going off to war again—my dad included—training camps were set up by the Defense Department on college campuses throughout the nation. Although no one needed a new suit, there was definitely a need for proper clothing—specifically, officer’s uniforms.
Stores such as ours, located in small college towns, were ideal for turning out these uniforms by the hundreds. They had the knowledge, experience and, most of all, the business creativity necessary to survive in tough times.
The end of the 1980’s saw Mom and Pop stores closing left and right. The reason? Low cost, inferior foreign goods flooded the market. The exclusivity of “Made in the USA” was no longer viable. Having taken over the helm of our family business I lasted until the mid-Nineties when I finally threw in the towel.
Wilson’s Clothing Store Today
I saw the success of the personal clothier industry growing and joined the ranks of experienced (and not so experienced) clothiers. Armed with fabric swatches and a measuring tape, I established a home-based company and went directly to my client’s home or office. This was and still is a rewarding experience for me.
With the proliferation of online shopping, the next generation of custom clothiers has found its home. The Internet has opened avenues for communication that none of us could ever have imagined. Connecting with clients is only a few keystrokes away.
I, along with the custom clothing industry, will survive, providing the finest bespoke and custom made-to-measure suits, dress shirts, sport coats and slacks available in Scottsdale, Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona and Dallas, TX.
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