A long overdue closet cleaning got me thinking about local retail.
I found the pants from one of the first suits I ever bought by myself, from Kelly Clothes in Latham. Kelly shut down in 2003, so I will never have the opportunity to ask them how I ended up with a taupe suit. Now, there’s nothing wrong with taupe — but if you’re going to have one or two suits, they should probably be navy blue or charcoal.
I also found the jacket of a snazzy black double-breasted suit from Spector’s, also more than 20 years old. The pants were MIA. Spector’s closed up shop this year after being in business since 1917; not even moving to the mall could save the clothier, facing stiff competition from big department stores and large menswear chains.
I did work for both Kelly Clothes and Spector’s during my days as a commercial producer. Menswear spots were always tough because nobody wanted to spend money on models. If you think dealing with empty suits all day is tough, try shooting video of them.
Independent bookstores get loads of ink as examples of little retailers battling for survival, but they are not the first to fight that fight. Small family owned businesses like clothing stores have been practically wiped out and nobody ever shed a tear for them. Unlike most independent bookstores, I was always able to find what I wanted at a those clothing stores. — and they always made sure it fit just right.